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The Social Business world according to IBM

04.04.2013
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Whilst those of us in the industry are convinced of the transformative power of social business, it’s always nice to have a conclusive study to back us up.  Step forward IBM.  They’ve released a new study on the social business marketplace called The Business of Social Business: What works and how it’s done.

The aim of the study was to find out how companies are using social business, and which areas were currently most successful for them.  Three main areas jumped out as being particularly successful:

  • Creating valued customer experiences
  • Driving workforce productivity and effectiveness
  • Accelerating innovation

Suffice to say that each of these are relatively obvious areas to utilise social business and are thus good places to begin the process of becoming social.  Of greater interest however is the importance IBM place on the cultural aspect of social business.  Success rests on your ability to weave social into the fabric of how you do business.

In order for this to happen they recommend that the following three issues are addressed:

  1. You need to figure out how to incorporate social metrics into traditional processes
  2. You need to be clear on the risks involved and how to manage them
  3. This is a change management thing, and whilst it will require a unique application of change management, it will nonetheless require tried and tested techniques to influence corporate culture and performance.

I wrote almost a year ago to the day about how successful social adoption is a cultural thing more than it is a technical thing, and this report underlines that completely.

Social business ROI

The issue of ROI is another key point.  Last month Deloitte released a report on the importance of connecting social business with the over-arching aims of the organisation.  They suggested that whilst most organisations have ‘best practice’ guidelines in place, most of the time we end up working around those guidelines in order to cope with exceptional circumstances.  By making these so called hidden practices visible, social business can then drive real business value.

Managing the risks of social media

The issue of risk was one that was covered nicely by Charlene Li and her Altimeter Group earlier this summer.  They broke down risk management into four main areas:

  1. Identify the risk- First things first you have to identify the risks you face.  These could be a risk to your brand, a leaking of confidential information, legal violations or identity theft.  Altimeter found that the most common threat was to a companies brand, but if you investigate potential sources of risk you may come up with something more specific to your own situation.
  2. Assess the risk - Next you have to assess how likely that risk is to do you damage.  It’s basically a bit of probability analysis.  Couple up the likelihood of a risk happening with the damage it would do if it did occur to give you a decent understanding of the risks you face and the damage they can do.
  3. Manage and mitigate the risk – The next step is to deal with the risk.  You might be able to eliminate it completely (unlikely) or you might be able to reduce the odds of it occuring, or indeed mitigating the damage should the worst materialise.  Common strategies here include providing outstanding training on how staff should behave on social media and what you expect from them when they use it.
  4. Monitor and evaluate the risk – As with most things like this, you should never be completely satisfied, so the final step is to regularly review and regulate their existing risk strategies to take account of both the success of the current strategy and the changing landscape within which they operate.

Having greater insight into these key areas is always useful though.  You can download the report below.

The Business of Social Business: What works and how it’s done