IBM Advises Companies To Invest In Social Business
June 3, 2013 Jenny Thomas
A decade ago, online commerce, more commonly known as ebusiness, was more than just a buzz word, it was a game changer. And the successful integration of ebusiness technology would be what determined which companies would survive, and which would get left behind.
Evidence of the pervasiveness of ebusiness is everywhere you look. Even the vendors at your local farmer’s market are armed with their Square, prepared to accept your major credit card to enable you to purchase that carton of fresh strawberries.
Today the game is changing again, and IBM is advising companies to invest in social business.
IBM recently released a new white paper, Patterns in Achieving Social Business Success By Leading and Pioneering Organizations, which reveals how organizations are using social technologies to stay competitive in today’s market and create a smarter, more productive workforce.
According to IBM, knowledge has become the key economic resource and the dominant–and perhaps even the only–source of competitive advantage. And having that advantage could be the key to long-term success. IBM cites a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute that found as much as $1.3 trillion is up for grabs for companies that harness the power of social business.
IBM defines a social business as an organization whose culture and systems encourage networks of people to create business value. Social businesses connect individuals, so they can rapidly share information, knowledge, and ideas by having conversations and publishing informal content. So that website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed you’ve set up are a start, but only the beginning of what will propel your business into the future.
You are not alone if you are still unconvinced about the importance of social business in your organization’s success. But it is important to let go of any notions you have about social business being the place where you can find out what your colleagues had for lunch, and really take a look at some of the common challenges that IBM believes can be improved through the adoption of social business patterns.
For starters, many organizations of all sizes struggle with communication. Information might get passed along through private conversations or in meetings, but with no central repository, valuable data remains in the hands of a few, which can result in employees wasting time inventing the same solution many times. An internal social program can help information flow freely throughout an organization.
Another key area where social business efforts can see rapid success is in the sales department. Modern sales techniques are making a shift from mass marketing to targeting key individuals whose influences reach large numbers of potential customers. But sales efforts can fail if an organization does not convince the prospective customer with relevant and timely information. IBM has found that adding social features and mobile access to customer relationship management (CRM) applications increased the productivity of sales people by 26.4 percent.
IBM’s white paper identifies six social business patterns that organizations can apply to quickly realize business results.
1. Find expertise. Quickly locate the right people or published content containing the expertise needed to solve a problem.
2. Gain external customer insights. Instantly access customer opinions and preferences.
3. Increase knowledge sharing. Capture, share, and access knowledge across your organization, and with business partners.
4. Improve recruiting and on-boarding. Find the right candidate for open positions. IBM uses LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to support its recruiting processes.
5. Manage mergers and acquisitions. Increase overall success rate, and create a “one company” community and culture.
6. Enable and improve workplace safety. Speed communication of new or changed safety regulations, policies, and procedures.
According to IBM, 54 percent of companies they are dealing with expect to support their customer service processes with social capabilities within two years, and 60 percent intend to socially enable their sales processes in the next two years. Of those already implementing IBM social business solutions, 30 percent report improvement in speed of accessing experts, and 55 percent saw an increase in visibility of a company’s subject matter experts on its public website.
IBM is definitely a believer in the future of social business. In fact, IBM white paper states that “social business is likely to spawn a level of business value creation similar to that of the adoptions of online commerce capabilities a decade ago.” Back in 2011, IBM publicly declared that it was going to transform IBM culture and become a social business. Making that transformation has given IBM first-hand knowledge, which it has applied to its solutions.
Big Blue’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. IBM says more than 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies have licensed IBM solutions for social business.
No one needs one more item on their To Do list, but if social business isn’t already on the agenda at your organization, the time to start making plans is now.
More resources are available in the social business section of IBM’s website, which you can find here.