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July 29, 2014

The Business Case for Social Business and Collaboration

By Karen J. Bannan

Social media expert and author Vala Afshar this month was interviewed by U.S. News and World Report about how to stay competitive. His answer: Take a social-first attitude in whatever you do. “Social-first is a culture – you work together as a team because you trust, respect and care for each other,” he is quoted as saying. Collaboration and social business is a big part of the social-first strategy, something that’s imperative since, as he points out, companies don’t own the customer service experience anymore. The customer does, so you need to be doing everything in your power to give them what they want when they want it. Social business and collaboration can help make that happen.

“The biggest competitive advantage comes from caring more. This involves being accessible, well-informed, willing to share and proactively promoting thought-leadership with customers and partners. By being aware and adjusting service delivery accordingly, companies gain a competitive advantage,” he explained in an interview with the publication.

Social business and collaboration tools are key because they help connect disparate business units and employees, allowing them to interact, provide information to each other and see exactly how the customers interacted with each other in the past.

Third-party research bears this out. A November 2013 Aberdeen Group study – Enterprise Social Collaboration: The Collaborators’ Advantage — found that companies that identified social business collaboration as their top business goal “saw significant business performance improvement” as compared to companies that did not make it a priority. Those social business-focused companies saw increases in customer retention (16 percent versus 7 percent), employee productivity (15 percent versus 2 percent) and employee satisfaction (an increase of 13 percent as compared to a reduction of two percent). In addition, collaborators saw huge gains in sales cycle reduction and operational efficiency – 12 and 9 percent as compared to 5 and 4 percent, respectively.

The increases stem from being able to find subject matter experts and business-critical information more quickly, as well as giving employees mobile access to a collaboration platform and the promotion of innovation. In the end, these results highlight what Aberdeen calls a collaborators’ advantage, “…can the business value of an Enterprise Social Collaboration initiative be in doubt any longer?” The answer is certainly clear.

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