One of the big buzzwords of 2011 will be ‘Social Business’. It’s an outgrowth of terms we’ve seen the last 3 years like social media, social media marketing, social computing, social networking, social CRM, and digital strategy. I think this term will take hold because it will resonate better with business leaders, who want to make sure social activities leads to business success. And yes, I do believe a well-implemented social business strategy can help a business become more successful.
Successful businesses put the customer at the center of everything they do. Successful businesses should, in fact, have as a major objective to help their customers be as successful as possible. To do that they need to understand their customer’s business problems and their strategy for solving those business problems. Successful businesses can sometimes be better at anticipating a customer's business needs than the customer itself.
To be successful, companies need to look for ways to increase the volume and quality of conversations they have with the customer. Increasing the volume and quality of conversations help them get closer to their customers. It helps them understand their customers better and hopefully, anticipate their needs.
The social computing trend allows companies to develop a social business strategy that can allow them to get closer to customers. A well designed and implemented social business strategy can enable an increase in the volume and quality of conversations companies can have with their customers. The great thing about having those conversations digitally is that they can happen 24X7. So wherever you are and whenever you have the urge, you can have a conversation with your customer.
These conversations can be initiated by the customer or by a company employee. Through the use of mobile devices, employees can participate in these conversations wherever they happen to be in the world. And those conversations can be happening at any hour of the day. Being active socially means that employees can potentially reach customer contacts no matter what level they reside within the customer's organization. Relationships can be built on social networks with even the most senior contacts within a customer organization. Employees can share digital content about products and services with customer contacts, getting information in the hands of customers much faster than waiting for a face to face visit. And the neat thing is that all these digital conversations can occur in real-time too.
So look for the Social Business buzz to pick up steam in 2011. To summarize, by implementing a social business strategy, companies can 1) get closer to their customers, 2) understand their needs better, and 3) be much more responsive to their needs. And a big benefit is that by being more responsive, companies can be more agile, responding to those needs faster than competition.
Implementing a social business strategy is not easy. You can’t do it just by setting up a social platform. It requires hard work to change culture, implement new roles, business processes, etc. I’ll save that discussion for another future post.
For More Information
For those of you wanting to do some extra reading, here are some links for you to explore. It’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s enough for now.
- The Social Nature of Agile Teams http://agile2007.com/downloads/proceedings/009_whitworth-SocialNature_627.pdf
- Social Business Software from IBM: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/socialcollaboration/
- IBM LotusLive: A Social Networking and Collaboration Platform: http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/redpapers/pdfs/redp4728.pdf
- Voice of Customer 2.0: Social, Agile and Integrated http://www.rightnow.com/files/whitepapers/Voice-of-Customer-2.0-White-Paper.pdf
- The Programmable Web: Agile, Social, and Grassroots Computing http://maximilien.org/publications/papers/2007/Maximilien+Ranabahu07a_presentation.pdf
- Social media and agile leadership http://www.slideshare.net/TribalCafe/social-media-and-agile-leadership-5998719
- Agile tales of creative customer collaboration http://www.slideshare.net/cperrone/passionate-teams-cooperative-customers-388318
- Seven Social Media Trends for Engaging the Workforce: http://www.slideshare.net/FHInternalComms/seven-social-media-trends-for-engaging-the-workforce-2283754
- Some blog Posts to check out
- A Changemaker in the Making: http://davidparker9.wordpress.com/
- The Agile Executive: http://theagileexecutive.com/
- A Social Business Agile Manefesto http://c7group.com/blog/agile-social-business-manifesto/
- Remaining Agile Amidst Seismic Shifts in the Social Media Landscape http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/023076.html