Social Business Is at the Center of the Enterprise

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
social business

Social business is rapidly moving into the mainstream of the enterprise, and the IT organization must play a key role in creating an effective strategy.

While the initiative posed a few cultural challenges—including resistance from some managers who initially viewed the initiative as "another tool to embed in my daily life"—England says that community managers have helped communicate the value of the system and aided employees in understanding how it is relevant and useful to them in a practical way.

"When they see that it removes roadblocks to their work and makes their life easier, they are typically very receptive," she notes. In addition, Pearson has turned to gamification techniques and rewards to boost participation.

Collaboration Rules

Achieving maximum results in the social business arena requires a focus on a number of key factors. First, it's critical to understand how communication takes place, and how the right tools and technologies can rewire and remap enterprise processes.

Remarkably, and seemingly paradoxically, the right mix of systems can introduce a sense of connectedness and intimacy that wouldn't have been possible in the past. It's possible to create a more personalized and customized environment by providing the right information to the right people in the right context. In many cases, PwC's O'Driscoll says, this requires new partnerships and an entirely different data ecosystem.

Accenture's Hamilton says that organizations must fully map how communication takes place and understand employee and customer behavior at a level that hasn't been required in the past. Whereas interactions used to take place over the phone or in person—or from a single source, such as a bank manager or doctor—they now splinter into various channels, devices and media.

Within this new but still emerging order—and with deeper and broader data insights—determining who owns and manages the relationship changes. For example, "A hospital is no longer just a health care provider," Hamilton explains. "It becomes a health and wellness brand with engagement across the entire value chain."

One of the remarkable things about social business is that it provides a telescope and microscope into a world that previously wasn't visible. Organizations that pull the right data from social business systems and use those tools to drive decision making suddenly gain the ability to transcend a transactional, analog mentality. They are able to measure value in different ways and understand the business more fully.

PwC's O'Driscoll says that this environment requires new thinking, new skill sets, different metrics, and a complete rewiring of information systems and data flow. It also demands that an enterprise break down its silos and recognize and reward contributors and customers differently.

"Social business capabilities are now at the center of everything," he concludes.

This article was originally published on 2014-11-26

Samuel Greengard, a contributing writer for Baseline, writes about business, technology and other topics. His forthcoming book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press), will be released in the spring of 2015.

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