Mar 28, 2012
Even today, business leaders may dismiss the potential of social business, either relegating it to the realm of Internet marketing or ignoring the buzz as a passing fad. But that’s changing as boomers evolve into digital natives, millennials permeate the workforce and social media becomes a part of daily life. The doors are now open for social business.
Leading enterprises today are applying social technologies like collaboration, communication and content management to social networks – the connected web of people and assets that impact on a given business goal or outcome – amplified by social media from blogs to social networking sites to content communities. Yet it’s more than tools and technology. Businesses are being fundamentally changed as leaders rethink their core processes and capabilities with a social mindset to find new ways to create more value, faster.
Forays into social business typically start with an organization’s external-facing concerns. Sales and marketing organizations, looking to understand customer sentiment and product positioning, listen carefully to opinions expressed in the social sphere. Similarly, organizations roll out internal micro-blogs that allow employees to broadcast and push interests, ideas and expertise to the enterprise. These types of efforts are excellent entry points, but not the only points of impact in the enterprise. Think across the full value chain. Compose “social” with a key business function such as Social CRM, Social PLM or Social Supply Chain.
Social business can shift an organization’s dynamic from isolation to engagement by providing vehicles for discovering, growing and propagating ideas and expertise. This shift requires organizations to take a more active approach to social. Beyond social monitoring and listening posts, leading organizations are establishing command centers to interact with consumers and the marketplace via the social sphere.
Some interactions are transactional, such as customer relationship management, servicing or order management, while others seek to drive loyalty and brand activation. Functional areas such as Human Resources and recruiting are following sales and marketing’s lead, with customer service, product development and operations close behind.
Enterprise solutions are moving from communication tools to collaboration suites, white pages, yellow pages and expertise finders, where specialized knowledge can be found regardless of individual connections. Distributed teams can work together on deliverables without worrying about versioning or “over-the-wall engineering.” Communities can form and engage around topics based on individuals’ common interests – personal or professional, long-running or perishable.
Behind it is a simple truth: people are the core of business. The balance of power has shifted from the corporation to the individual. Technology has made it easier to discover and participate in social networks, but it has not changed their currency: content, authenticity, integrity, reputation, commitment and follow-through. Social business allows organizations that share these values to fundamentally reshape how their companies run and serve their markets. A flattened world – allowing direct contact between customers and product developers, between divisional VPs and front-line workers, between salespeople and suppliers – could be inherently more effective and efficient. Companies that align the passions of their people with the interests of their customers hold the potential to capture the marketplace.
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