What is Social Business?
By Karen J. Bannan
People are often confused about the term social business, using it interchangeably with social media, even at the management level. At the same time, IT often treats a social business rollout like any other software implementation. The result: Social business programs often stumble at first, a fact backed up by recent research.
For instance, although research firm Gartner said in January 2013 that “by 2016, 50 percent of large organizations will have internal Facebook-like social networks, and that 30 percent of these will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today,” it also said “80 percent of social business efforts will not achieve the intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology.” *
The fix is twofold. First, organizations must have a better understanding of what social business is and what it can mean for a company. At its most basic, social business is a way to connect employees and in many cases customers and partners together for communication and collaboration. The best implementations of social business also use analytics to glean information and insight from those connections and interactions so the participants can improve and deepen relationships, find new ideas and innovate more easily.
The second step is making sure IT is using “pull” rather than “push” software deployment, according to Gartner.
“Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, followed a “push” paradigm,” explained Carol Rozwell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner in a release. “Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a ‘pull’ approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can’t be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in.”
So how do you do that? It starts with figuring out what you want to achieve with your social business strategy. Once you know what your goals are, you can find one or more social media finding one or more social business champions who will use the technology, demonstrating why it’s useful and help train the rest of your organization on how and when to use it. This is easier when there’s an actual return-on-investment that will affect users personally. Because – in the end – if you’re asking an entire user base to change the way they work every day there’s got to be a more compelling reason than “because I say so.”
*Gartner, Gartner Says 80 Percent of Social Business Efforts Will Not Achieve Intended Benefits Through 2015, January 29, 2013; http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2319215