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What Is Social Business ? A SideraWorks Brief


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Social business. A term that’s been steadily gaining traction at the intersection of social media’s rise and the current shift in the business world. But what does it mean?

Clarifying the term “social business” is critical to determining whether it’s something we want our companies to be, and if so, how we go about achieving that. At SideraWorks, we’ve spent a great deal of time defining social business in a way that encompasses its essence, but avoids much of the jargon that simply adds to the confusion.

Published in: Business, Technology

What Is Social Business ? A SideraWorks Brief

  1. 1. What Is Social Business? Defining Social Business SideraWorks LLC - SideraWorks.comV 1.0
  2. 2. What IsSocialBusiness?Agile The business world, and especially the professionals immersed inOpen social media, have been discussing and debating the definition of social business from a number of different angles. Clarifying what we mean by “social business” is critical toEngaged determining whether it’s something we want our companies to be, and if so, how we go about achieving that.Adaptive 2
  3. 3. A comprehensiveunderstanding of socialbusiness requiresseveral components.We need to know:• What a social business is• What a social business does• The difference between social media Understanding both the nature and social business of a social business and how it’s different - and better - than what• Why being a social business is desirable we’re doing today means that we• The elements of becoming a can approach it intelligently, and as a true organizational evolution, social business not just a tactic or campaign. 3
  4. 4. What A SocialBusiness IsThis is first question most people have, yet it’s the hardest to answerconsistently and completely in just a sentence or two.It’s like asking “What is Customer Service?”The answer differs if you’re describing the purpose, the processes, orthe outcomes. Depending on your point of view - as the customer,an employee, or a partner - the answer can vary even more. To that end, here is the resulting highAt SideraWorks, we’ve spent a great deal of time defining social level definition ofbusiness in a way that encompasses its essence, but avoids muchof the jargon that simply adds to the confusion instead of providing social business...clarity.All social businesses believe that meaningful change and evolution,and the achievement of the above, must consider people andprocesses as well as technology and platforms. 4
  5. 5. Social Business is the creation ofan organization that is optimizedto benefit its entire ecosystem(customers, employees, owners,partners) by embeddingcollaboration, information sharing,and active engagement into itsoperations and culture. The resultis a more responsive, adaptable,effective, and ultimately moresuccessful company. 5
  6. 6. What A SocialBusiness DoesSo how do you recognizea social business from theoutside? Active ConnectedThe core of a successful Empowerment Openness Intelligencesocial business and theactivities that support itwill reflect these six traits: Agility Adaptability 6
  7. 7. The Six Core Traits Of A Social BusinessAgility Balancing speed of response, Smart Connectivity Sensiblycommunication and information sharing with integrating and deploying technology that removesthoughtful coordination and long-term scalability. barriers to communication rather than creating them, and improves the information flow among customers, prospects, teams and partners.Openness Communicating with lessfriction across organizational lines, in ways thatdistribute and improve access to knowledge among Active Intelligence Listeningstakeholders. Acknowledging and rewarding and using established as well as new sources ofinnovation, creativity, thoughtful feedback and information. Leveraging data and analysis not justcollaboration. to track activity, but to actively inform business decisions and feed intelligence back into the business to improve products, services, and processes.Empowerment Allowing communitiesto self-organize within the business to solve businessproblems and share insight, and trusting decision- Adaptability Designing an organization that is flexible to the needs andmaking to happen at the margins of the organization. demands of employees as well as customers, and believing that continuous adaptation and evolution is not only critical to survival, but desirable in order to stay ahead of the market. 7
  8. 8. But what about the term ‘social media’that has taken the world by storm?Is doing social media and becoming asocial business the same thing? 8
  9. 9. The DifferenceBetween Social Media& Social Business Social Social Media Business They are two of the most commonly confused terms in today’s business world, but they aren’t interchangeable. What‘s the difference? 9
  10. 10. Social Media Social Businessare the platforms and technologies that is the process and result of optimizingpeople use to communicate and create your internal business to take advantageinteractively, like Twitter, Facebook, of social media’s opportunities, puttingYammer, or YouTube. Most often we refer processes and governance in placeto social media as the technologies that to mitigate its risks and adapt to itsare used between a company and the implications, and applying social conceptspublic at large, but it could also refer to and technology internally to enablethe platforms used inside a company collaboration, sharing, innovation, andto communicate in a more social and open engagement.collaborative manner. Social business can encompass usingWhen most people reference social external social media, but it’s not amedia for business, they’re referring to requirement. Technically, an organizationusing these technologies for engagement can be a social business without engagingwith the public, or for leveraging for data publicly in social media at all.purposes. The activities are typically(though not always) used and managedby customer-facing departments likemarketing, customer service, PR, or sales. 10
  11. 11. As an example, a global building supply company created an internal social network that enabled over 20,000 of its employees to collaborate with one another, expediting and improving things like productA social business launches.isn‘t necessarily They still needed to create policies and governance that support employees who are using social media personally, set vision andengaged in objectives for the organization, and coordinate and improve a number of internal practices to accommodate the increased media. Collaboration, dynamic engagement, policy creation, governance, efficiency...this is certainly an organization evolving as a social business, yet public engagement with social media isn’t currently a focused part of their efforts. 11
  12. 12. The Case ForSocial Business But the transitionThe evolution from business carries with it aas we’ve known it to social significant number ofbusiness is a complex one, benefits, including...and includes a number offacets, from cultural shift toorganizational design, processimprovement and a heftydose of thoughtful changemanagement to guide it all. 12
  13. 13. Benefits of a Social BusinessImproved customer satisfaction More effective knowledge Lowered costs throughsince you’re reacting faster and sharing that’s one part a sound everything from improvedmore openly, applying their input technology base, one part product development and antowards improving products and well-thought out process, and appetite for innovation to moreservices, and making them feel a large part giving everyone efficient internal processes, morelike a much more invested and from employees to partners the collaborative employee educationengaged part of your business. ability to learn from, contribute and training, and stronger to and preserve the collective relationships with partners that intelligence of the company. yield better opportunities.Deeper employee loyalty fueledby a more collaborative work Strengthened brand reputation Clearly established visionenvironment that empowers each from customers and partners and governance to guide theperson in the organization to be who feel better informed, heard, organization’s social initiativesa part of shifting and improving and connected, and from the overall, and a coordinated centerthe business. That makes your people inside your organization to unify independent social andcompany a more attractive place who are charged with stewarding collaboration projects withinto work, too. that brand in their everyday work. departments or business units. 13
  14. 14. However, all of these things, includingthe unquestionable benefits of agility,collaboration, and so on have beenobjectives of the more progressiveorganizations for some time.Why is this anything new? Why areorganizations so aggressively pursuingthis thing called ‘social business’? 14
  15. 15. Organizational efforts in the past have been driven from the inside. Efforts to acquire these individual traits have typically had passionate sponsorship within a successful company at one time or another. Yet, those internal efforts most often wither away, relegated lower and lower on the priority list as the daily demands of business take precedence. Instead, today’s perfect storm of business evolution is powered by a series of external forces that are driving the shift instead. Social media and their associated implications are at the very center of that change. For example:The answer to • The incoming workforce, its values, and its expectations for open that question communication and empowerment demand a more flexible culture and work environment;lies outside of • Customers expect to communicate more seamlessly and have more the company... attentive, personal relationships with businesses; • The technologies available to successfully enable social concepts have literally. matured in both capabilities and affordability; • The profile of today’s successful companies reflect social values that are embedded in the core of the organization. While that may mean that it is no longer a choice for a company to evolve if it wants to thrive in this changing environment, it also represents a significant opportunity. The biggest question for most organizations, however? How to move from where they are today to the social business model they envision for the future. 15
  16. 16. How To Build ASocial BusinessSocial business strategies Almost any area of a business can become the spark that ignites a social media initiativecan vary widely between and turns it into the foundation for a social business plan.organizations based on But whether social business begins intheir unique opportunities marketing or customer service, or starts as a holistic and organization-wide initiative,and challenges. there are specific areas that an organization will need to address and evaluate as part of shaping an overall plan. 16
  17. 17. The start of any social businessVision & Goals: Is there a guiding vision for why the companywants to become a social business and what they hope to planning - whether departmentalachieve as a result? or organization-wide - should start with a comprehensiveCultural Readiness: Is the organization’s mindset conducive readiness assessment thatto change and the more open and collaborative nature of social considers each aspect of thebusiness? company that social can and will touch, whether directly orOrganizational Structure: Is the design of the business indirectly. Knowing where you’reoptimal for faster information flow and more distributed decision starting from ensures that youmaking? Are all the pivotal roles filled with the right people? Arethere critical roles that don’t yet exist? can craft a thoughtful model for where you’re headed.Social Strategy: Are there external and internal social strategiesin place, and are they unified or integrated in some way? In its culture, people, communication and systems.Communication: Are there fluid communication processes in Social is something that aplace and the infrastructure and tools available to support them? business is, inside and out, not just something that marketingSocial Technologies: What systems are in place now, and are does. It’s forging a new centerthey consistent across the business? Are there needs gaps?How is due diligence and deployment being handled? to the business universe, a center that needs a new kind ofTraining and Education: How is social business and social ecosystem - and balance -media education being designed and implemented throughout to thrive.the organization? 17
  18. 18. The real power ofsocial lives in thebedrock of a business. 18
  19. 19. What Does Our work might include:SideraWorks • Assessment and audit workshops • Development of ‘end state’ social business visionDo? • Plan development for bridging from ‘current state’ to ‘end state’ • Program management of a social business planIn short, we focus on developing and building • Change management & culture social business models and helping companies initiativesimplement them. We don’t work on socialmedia programs, like individual social marketing • Social technology due diligence, campaigns or developing and managing social deployment planning, contractmedia presences on Facebook. assistance • Process and governance Instead, we focus our expertise on the business implementationevolution process, from conducting audits andreadiness assessments for businesses trying to • Executive and partner/agency become more social, to building a centralized facilitationpivot point for social program coordination in an • Development of training, organization that we call the Center of Gravity™. onboarding or education programsFor more about what makes SideraWorks different and how we approach ourengagements, have a look at our website and case examples.Questions? Comments? Email us at and let us know. 19
  20. 20. Sideraworks LLC321 Clark St // Ste. 500 Chicago // Illinois 20