Social business—defined as the adoption of social networking tools and protocols across the enterprise to connect employees, customers, suppliers, sales prospects and others in order to make better, faster decisions—is the next wave of business process improvement based on online technologies. Isn’t quite as complex to understand as a ‘brain’ surgery, however, its power derives from enabling organisations to learn in a similar fashion as the human brain.
A human brain contains millions of neurons, electrically excitable cells capable of processing and transmitting information (much like your employees). However, though vital, these cells don’t accomplish much on their own until they form connections. Furthermore, what’s interesting about this process is that the neurons establish a large number of connections between them right after birth. By over production of connections, they can over time, select and establish appropriate connections, and disregard the inappropriate ones to create more efficient connections with each other. This is how the brain learns.
Sounds a bit like the way social connections are formed, right? Even people with thousands or tens of thousands of Twitter followers tend to interact primarily with a fairly small number of those connections, as they learn over time which relationships are “most appropriate,” stimulating and supportive of their objectives.
Changing the thought process
Similarly, enterprises today are tackling infinite data which certainly means endless opportunity —but it needs a new approach to harness that potential. It is important to know what your customers want even before they realise and then work towards delivering the best suited results. Faster access to more relevant data and constant experimentation is creating endless opportunities for the organisations; posing new challenges for them to pick a right solution for right audience every time. Considering this, leading organisations are changing how they measure their operations, interactions with customers and resource allocations.
Today, the reality for a better collaboration within the organisation is to follow an integrated and flexible approach that is followed across. Choices today are vast and requires right communication tools that can foster a flexible, innovative workforce positioned for optimum productivity. High-performing teams are gravitating toward tools that allow them to collaborate intuitively. Achieving a strong, inclusive IT environment—adopting new applications, services and delivery models quickly—is no longer a matter of convenience or productivity.
When the employees are forced to work in a way that creates a hindrance in the actual productivity that they are capable of delivering, the organisation faces trouble. In such situations it is advisable to come up with an integrated solution that provides a single platform to all the employees giving them an advantage to make use of the new services. It is important to support workers’ changing preferences and seize the advantages and opportunities that new services offer while managing risks and maintaining a single source of the truth.
Enterprises are evolving by deploying five distinct clusters of social capabilities—each aimed at realising a specific goal. The most commonly deployed social capabilities are those required to drive internal and external collaboration. This is a logical starting point for many enterprises, since it provides a robust foundation for accomplishing higher-order social ambitions.
Social business embraces right connections
A transformation is taking place in how people interact and how relationships form and develop and this is changing the way we socialise, the way we work and the way we engage with our customers. The new normal is that customers are leading the conversations that define your brand, competitors are crowd-sourcing ideas to bring new offerings to market and employees are using social media in all facets of their lives. This shift presents an opportunity for organisations to improve everything from reinventing customer relationships to how work gets done.
A social business embraces right networks of people to create business value and activates networks of people that apply relevant content and expertise to improve and accelerate core and ad hoc processes, delivering unprecedented return for the time invested. Today it is impossible to ignore the rise of social media and the impact it’s having on business. The correlation of social adoption and business success is becoming increasingly clear. While companies have primarily focused on building their presence in external social media, the path to becoming a social business is also increasingly focusing on improving organisational productivity and effectiveness.
Social businesses can also drive innovation much faster than traditional organisations. Social media allows you to gather better requirements straight from the customer’s voice. High-quality input and ideas, as well as frequent feedback, from motivated customers and partners who broadcast their product needs through daily commentary via external communities and blogs can drive product innovation and service improvement. Therefore social technology is offering the best solutions to the organisations in a way that is beneficial to its employees and customers.
The writer is business unit executive, IBM Social Business