Social business is not “just” about communicating better!

March 9, 2010
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I heard this statement recently from an analyst, “social media for business is really just about communicating better”. Huh? Traditional collaboration was about communicating better and you see where that took us…email inboxes overflowing and almost useless, team workspaces that support silo’ed work, IM sucking productivity as bad a phone calls (why does a ringing phone appear to be urgent even when you don’t know who it is?)… No sir, social media for business is NOT just about communicating better. Of course part of the problem is trying to use the social media term for what is a much bigger “thing”, the social web and all the constructs it has created. I use the term social business to cover the holistic look at social for business, which to me seems like a much better fit. Now if the claim was that social in business is about connecting with people or engaging people more effectively, maybe I’d buy that but not just communicating.

Applying social concepts to business has wide applicability and could touch almost every area in an enterprise. When I think of social business and how we’re using the concepts (or could use) in business I see…

201003081623.jpg

I heard this statement recently from an analyst, “social media for business is really just about communicating better”. Huh? Traditional collaboration was about communicating better and you see where that took us…email inboxes overflowing and almost useless, team workspaces that support silo’ed work, IM sucking productivity as bad a phone calls (why does a ringing phone appear to be urgent even when you don’t know who it is?)… No sir, social media for business is NOT just about communicating better. Of course part of the problem is trying to use the social media term for what is a much bigger “thing”, the social web and all the constructs it has created. I use the term social business to cover the holistic look at social for business, which to me seems like a much better fit. Now if the claim was that social in business is about connecting with people or engaging people more effectively, maybe I’d buy that but not just communicating.

Applying social concepts to business has wide applicability and could touch almost every area in an enterprise. When I think of social business and how we’re using the concepts (or could use) in business I see the following:

  • Social CRM: the application of social concepts to engage customers more effectively in sales, marketing and customer service. (I could break each area out more, social sales, social marketing, social PR, social customer service, but you get the point).
  • Social product design / development: using social concepts to design products that are based on customer needs, wants and desires (ideasourcing) and vetted through the collective knowledge and expertise of a companies’ employee resources in a closed loop system that runs from customer input to customer feedback.
  • Social employee enablement: enabling a cultural shift in the overall employee community by applying social concepts to employee policies, processes and tools. This could include: a) socialytic apps, b) enhanced user experience for enterprise apps, c) user generated content for employee, customer, and partner training, d) enterprise “YouTube”, e) internal microblogging, f) employee network, g) ad hoc process enablement, h) open access to, search to find and tools to update, rate and contribute to enterprise content (with tagging, folksnomy, etc), i) social human resources (at some point I’ll expand on this, but at a minimum self-managed profiles but could go as far as socially managed compensation)…
  • Social partner management: I suppose we’d call this social PRM, applying social concepts to partner programs and changing the way we interact with the partner ecosystem. This could start with partner communities but could extend to self-managed programs, open content development, etc.
  • Social supply chain: Supplier networks, as a concept are not new but through the application of social concepts we could extend that and create supplier communities as well as tie the supplier into the social product design / development process.

I’ve purposefully tried to stay away from vendors and specific tools as much as possible. Focus needs to be on the business transformation not on the technology. What do you think, are there other areas in business where social concepts can be effectively applied?