IBM Social Business Message: Productivity Gains, Cultural Change
March 18, 2013 Dan Burger
If you’ve been watching IBM promote social business, you’ve probably noticed the volume and frequency has been turned up. If you’ve seen IBM i chief architect Steve Will or read his blog, you know he’s a big time social evangelist. Back in January, there was an event called Connect 2013–the rebranding of Lotusphere that had to be done after the Lotus brand was wiped from the new product slate. In the past several years, it has become a social media lovefest.
Ten days ago, in an interview with Forbes, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty ranked the social network as one of the three technologies that will transform businesses. “The social network will be the new production line in a company,” she predicted. Coincidentally, or maybe not, that comment was made about the same time that the announcement was made that the production line for IBM Power Servers in Rochester, Minnesota, was being dismantled. That production line will be moved to Mexico.
Last week, IBM began a social business road show of sorts. This one was more show than road, but it was just the warm-up. To be more precise, it was a 60-minute condensed version of Connect 2013’s social business focus rolled into a webcast. IBM put time and effort and money into Connect 2013 and is looking to extend the conference’s functionality. That really boils down to getting the social business message out to a wider audience and, along with that, convince people that IBM does social business better than anyone else. The webcast, if you are curious about how IBM can help you develop a social strategy, is archived. What you get is a mixture of Power Point “key take aways,” videos of people reading teleprompters, and collaboration evangelism. In all honesty, it’s not that good. Live interaction would be better. But if you are pretty good at sorting the wheat from the chaff, have at it and click this link.
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll be watching: IBM’s VP of social software Jeff Schick, VP of social business sales and evangelism Sandy Carter, messaging product manager Scott Souder, and social software product manager Luis Benitez, all outlining IBM’s investment and technological advancements in social business along with a road map of what’s to come. Interviews with and presentations by representatives from social research and consultancies who are good at explaining how social networks are changing the way businesses function. You’ll also see and hear three IBM customers who have social media projects integrated into their businesses.
One of those customers, Celina Insurance, runs its core business on IBM i. It is not mentioned in the presentation, but I happen to know this. The CIO there is Rob Shoenfelt. He focused his presentation on the change in corporate culture and the productivity gains brought about through the adoption of social business processes, which in this case moved from paper documents, phones, fax to email, instant chat, and Web-based processes.
The changes he noted have been under way for almost 10 years and have reached beyond the company employees to include “discussion databases” for Celina’s business partners, the agencies that sell its insurance. There are 600 agencies and a total of 3,500 users taking part in the social business strategy, which was designed to solicit more business partner feedback, facilitate ideas, and increase a community environment.
Knowing that everyone wants to hear about productivity gains, Shoenfelt tossed out some impressive numbers comparing 245 Celina Insurance employees handling $65 million in premiums before social business to 170 employees producing $110 million in premiums since the change. He did, however, include somewhat of a disclaimer by saying technology was not the only change that occurred, but it was credited with being the “primary driver” of the productivity gain.
For those interested in the lessons learned by Celina while implementing its social business project, that kind of information is not part of his brief presentation. The best I can do is tell that you Celina Insurance is in Celina, Ohio. Shoenfelt’s contact information was not included in the webcast, but if you want to get the story straight from the source and without a script, I’m sure you can track him down.
To keep the social business engine revving, IBM has a road show schedule mapped out. Some of you might be in a position to get a face-to-face demonstration of what IBM Notes/Domino is capable of these days.
Social business events are scheduled in the United States during March in Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; Washington, DC; and Austin, Texas. An event is also scheduled for Nashville, Tennessee, in May. Dates and details of these events plus events in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and EMEA can be found at this link.