The prime hurdles of social business

valueThe notion of an organization being a “social business” is one that’s been talked about for the past few years, often focusing on social media tools and channels  – social networks, Twitter, blogs, etc – that people can use to connect with other people in a manner that’s more authentic that the rigidity, formality and control of marketing and public relations and instead is, well, social.

The concept has evolved quickly and today, more influential voices are looking closely at people’s behaviours, organization structure and culture as the more important – indeed, critical – issues to address.

These are the keys to an organization genuinely being a social business.

Why is this important? Look at it this way.

It’s all very well having some of your customer service team actively talking to customers in places like Twitter and Facebook, where actual relationships can develop, and word of mouth can quickly spread news about people’s good experiences as they get their problems easily and quickly addressed.

What about the traditional customer channels? Does the customer service call centre match the positive (typically) outcomes customers and others experience in talking informally and naturally to service staff?

Typically, the answer to that is a resounding no. You’ll know that yourself, for instance, if you’ve ever engaged with people on a company’s Twitter handle and compared that experience with what you get when you call their customer service number.

Mind the gap!

One of the most influential companies taking a strong and focused message about social business and what the organization needs to do to become one is IBM. (Recommended reading: their report “The business of social business” [reg required]. You don’t have to be an ‘enterprise’ to gain value and benefit from the ideas and thinking illustrated in this report.)

This infographic posted a few days ago on their Smarter Planet blog, highlighting the use of social technologies from IBM’s recent global survey about social business, makes the point well in concisely identifying the primary hurdles organizations need to address. Look at the bottom of the infographic.

IBM-social-business-infographic-Nov-2012

Concisely, it states the four elements in a foundation that needs to be in place for an organization to become a social business:

  1. Provide an infrastructure for engagement.
  2. Integrate social practices into day-to-day work activities.
  3. Understand where and how data generation could benefit the company.
  4. Teach employees how to collaborate effectively with people outside the organization.

Guest blogger Mark Fidelman is spot on in what he identifies:

[...] It’s clear that social business has transformed from a nice-to-have to a necessity for organizations to remain competitive. A lot of progress has been made, but there’s still a lot more work to do. Social business is about recognizing that the game has changed in business. No longer do the winners hoard information in silos or ignore the crowd’s input. The future is filled with sharing, collaborating and sourcing new ideas and innovations from inside and outside an organization.

It’s a construction site out there.  Do you have your blueprints?

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