Taking Social to a Business Level

In just over a decade, social business has evolved from a futuristic concept into a daily activity. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social networking sites have forever changed the way consumers and companies interact.

At the same time, internal social business tools, including Jive, Salesforce Chatter and Yammer, have remapped workplace communication and collaboration in profound ways. “We are seeing the integration of social into almost every aspect of business,” observes Tony Fross, vice president of digital advisory services at business and IT consulting firm Capgemini.

But getting software, systems and people in sync can be daunting. Social tools and features are advancing rapidly, and they are increasingly at the center of mainstream business initiatives, including marketing, sales, operations and customer support.

“We’re now seeing the integration of commerce into social,” Fross says. “Consumers are navigating sites based on images—including products they may want to purchase—and then moving straight to a transaction.” Add in elements such as social listening and social scanning, and it’s clear that business and IT leaders are facing a new and challenging era.

But along with all the opportunity come risks and concerns. Organizations that fail to manage and monitor social business tools can find that a small problem balloons into a big problem very quickly. A negative tweet or a video that goes viral on Facebook can ding a brand and lead to lost revenues and customers.

Compliance risks exist as well. Ultimately, employees must be instructed and trained in how to use social business tools correctly, effectively and securely. “It is important to set up guardrails,” advises Sanjaya Krishna, U.S. Digital Risk Consulting Leader for KPMG. “Today, everyone recognizes the value of social business, but there are clear risks associated with it.”

The rapid advance of social business—and the growing complexities of putting it into full motion—has left many business and IT leaders scrambling to keep up. What makes the task particularly vexing is the fact that intersection points and interaction points continue to grow in an almost exponential manner.

Capgemini’s Fross says that organizations must ultimately focus on three primary issues: incorporating social into any and all digital strategies; ensuring that social is tied into initiatives holistically; and building in analytics and measurement tools to gauge results and improve processes.

Scoring Big With Social Business

One organization that has scored big with social business is the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Like many other businesses, the team relies on Twitter and Facebook to interact with fans and customers.

“As a member of the NBA, there is an expectation that we’re producing the best possible experience both online and offline,” says Bob Stanke, senior director of digital media. “We’re in a business where things move and change very rapidly. This requires excellent communication externally, and also within the organization. We must be in sync and accurate at all times.”

Compounding the challenge: The team’s 160 employees and scouts do not work in one location—or even one city. Many of them are on the road with the team or traveling in other parts of the world to evaluate talent.

Social business tools allow the staff to communicate and collaborate effectively and coordinate key talking points. The team relies on Jive-n to connect everyone and ensure that the Timberwolves are addressing both external and internal communication goals.

Staff members use the solution to develop strategies, handle daily tasks, and coordinate everything from game entertainment and menus to external marketing through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook. The mobile component of the Jive platform allows employees to access and share information in real time, regardless of the device or the location.

“We no longer have to rely on email and out-of-date and out-of-sync information,” Stanke explains. “We can have discussions in real time and coordinate our efforts.