The Daily Grind Of Social Business
Published: November 26, 2012
by Jenny Thomas
In our private lives, social media is unavoidable. Even if you don't have the uncontrollable urge to post every time you visit a Starbucks, at this point, the vast majority of us have succumbed to peer pressure and joined at least one social network where we can go to see pictures of our friends and find out what they ate for lunch.
In our work lives, personal social media usage is largely frowned upon, but using social technology as a business tool is unavoidable and, for many, a critical component for success. According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016.
So IBM made some calls--1,160 to be exact--to business and IT professionals to find out how their businesses were adopting, and adapting to, the social side of business. IBM found that across the board, companies are increasing their social technology investments, although it seems the reasons why remain a little foggy.
The survey revealed that while 46 percent of the organizations questioned increased their investments in social technologies in 2012, only 22 percent believed that managers are prepared to incorporate social tools and approaches into their daily practices.
Just like many of us aren't really sure how to use our social media in our private lives, many businesses are also still figuring out whether real returns can be gained on social investments. In fact, two-thirds of respondents admitted they were not sure they sufficiently understood the impact social technologies would have on their organizations over the next three years.
So why are businesses jumping on the social media bandwagon? A small part of the reason may be peer pressure (the old "if my competitor is doing it than I better be doing it, too" attitude), but most organizations do believe if they can harness and analyze the massive amounts of data generated from people, devices, and sensors available through social technologies, it will enable their business to gain insight into customer and market trends, which would hopefully result in some form of competitive edge and maybe even a little financial gain.
"Businesses are struggling to make sense of the vast amount of data generated from social networks," said Kevin Custis, vice president and global leader social business and mobility services at IBM Global Business Services. "To transform a vision into a reality, executive leadership must guide middle management on the value of being a social business, and build companywide support for the use of social practices across organizational functions."
As a result of the survey, IBM created a report, entitled The Business of Social Business: What Works and How It's Done, that looks at companies that are doing more than developing a presence on major social platforms. The report finds that to have a successful social business, social technologies must be embedded into core business processes, and then those technologies have to be applied to drive customer-facing activities such as lead generation, and sales and post-sales service.
The IBM report concludes that some basic groundwork must be laid for organizations to evolve into social enterprises. At the most basic level, management must provide an infrastructure for engagement, such as setting up forums and collaborative spaces, and then those social practices must be integrated into day-to-day work activities. For example, encourage employees to use blog posts and activity streams to manage projects.
Management must also make the commitment to teach employees how to collaborate effectively with individuals outside of the organization's boundaries, using social business methods and tools. The IBM report also states that individual businesses must figure out where and how data generation could benefit their enterprise.
The bottom line is, to be successful, social technologies have to become part of daily operations, not treated like a website that gets the occasional update or makeover. If your IBM i business has a social media success story, your intrepid crew here at IT Jungle would love to hear your story. (And IBM will likely be listening, too.)
The complete study, The Business of Social Business: What Works and How It's Done, is available for download here.
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