Considering becoming a social business. There are a lot of options. As a Worldwide Social Business Evangelist, I speak to execs and managers around the world...people just like you. And here are 3 things I think you should know.
At IBM, we have the opportunity to speak to executives and line of business managers about how their companies are using, or planning to use, social tools in their business.
Some are just beginning the journey and are dealing with concerns and fears. While others have progressed far enough to not only see results but also have learned some valuable lessons and offered some important observations. Observations that I'd like to share with you.
As you know, social is a hot topic and just about everyone is trying to get into the game. There are specific social tools for about every niche imaginable. Some that deal only with media. Some that specialize in focus on specific interests and others that specialize in keeping track of where people are and what they’re doing.
But all these consumer focused products, while good at what they individually do, only serve to clutter the social space as it relates to business focused social solutions...This is where you’re looking for something you can trust to help you in your build, grow and run your business.
So here are three keys to becoming a social business.
First...Don't make social your business...make your business social.
When we speak to many executives, their concern is that &quot;social&quot; might be a distraction to their core business. Their impression of social comes from the consumer popularity of Facebook and LinkedIn. They see them as applications that may be valuable, but are separate from their core business.
There are a lot of products and vendors who have good social applications, but they are just that...applications. They are destinations unto themselves.
If you were to follow the &quot;jive&quot; talk of one such vendor, you would see they focus so much on providing a social application, that they've overlooked what's important...your business. .
They are quick to talk about &quot;Social Business&quot; because they are in the &quot;social business&quot;. But you're not.
Your business is manufacturing or insurance or retail. Your focus is on your business. It's important that it stay there
What business applications do you use each day? A company intranet...Let's say you wanted to make your intranet more social. Using their approach...just replace your business intranet with their social system. You may end up with a social focused intranet, but what about your business?
What you should do is make &quot;your&quot; intranet social. You should use a social solution that allows you to take social features and infuse them into your daily work experience.
Do you use email and collaboration tools like Outlook and Notes in your business? You should make them social.
Your business applications…make them social.
So the first key to being a social business is don’t let anyone convince you to take your eyes off your business and focus on their social tool, Instead continue to focus on your business and make IT social.
Second key...it's about you...make sure your focus is on the people.
Social is obviously about people, but it's interesting that many of the so-called social vendors don't focus on the people. Instead of the creator, they focus on the creation.
One such example is a vendor who thinks that how we Share is the main Point. Because they come from a content centric approach, they focus on how files are created and managed. Their system of sites are merely silos of content and when it comes to people, they've just equated people to &quot;sites&quot; with their &quot;MySite&quot; concept. They've basically turned people into file folders. You’re only as good as your content.
Users and analysts alike are coming to see that this content-centric approach is hardly social. It results in a different way of storing and sharing files, but it doesn’t come near the expectations of a workforce demanding a social experience
This content focus will get you yet another document management system…maybe a little better than your shared drives, but still the same approach.
Content-focus will get you to a file. What you need is a people-focused approach. People-focus will help you find credible content and their source…the people who created them…as well as the people-centric valuation of reader’s reviews, comments, and social ratings. All this credibility is derived from people…not from some content repository.
So our second key is to leave behind the content centric approach that’s broken and focus on a people centric approach.
Third key...it's your conversation...you should own it.
Many of the available social tools use public networks and email sign-up processes to make it easy to engage and get started. And this captures your attention...it also captures your conversation.
Unlike most consumer social conversations, your business discussions can be sensitive and confidential. Additionally, the history of a conversation...what was said...what was decided...when...these are all valuable business assets.
If you are using a public consumer tool to tweet or link your business. You need to be aware that you don't own it and you can't manage it. Tools that focus on the Chatter of your sales teams and the Yammer of chat streams are often free to begin with, but when you need to do more...when you get down to doing business...they hit you with a monthly fee. It's your conversation, but to manage it, you need to pay. Let’s say some ex-employee is still using their email ID to join and overhear your company's conversation. You need to delete that ID. You can't do that with the free model, you need to pay for ALL your users...then you have the right to manage your business. So who really owns this?
Your conversation...your social assets...the access, the right to use, and often the data itself, is in the hands of the social provider. You want to continue to use it...keep paying. You stop paying...at best, you and your social data are kicked to the curb. Then what?
So our third key…You need to use a social solution that allows you to own your conversation, manage your conversation and the people engaged in it, and provide you with a license model that lets you own your solution and your conversation assets.
So if you just starting out or even well on the way of your journey to become a social business, consider these three key points as you look at social tools and providers.
Don't make social your business, make your business social. Make sure it integrates within the context and daily use of your business.
Remember, it's about you and the individuals in your organization. Make sure it's people-focused.
And last, It's your business and your conversation. Make sure you own it.
If you have any other questions or would like assistance in becoming a social business, please contact us at www.ibm.com/social For a century, we’ve been thought leaders in business focused technologies. And today, we stand as a recognized leader in the social business marketplace. Not only do we design and develop social solutions…we’ve been living as a innovative and socially focused business for decades. We look forward to working with you as you take your social business journey.