Last week I shared my definition for a social business platform, or at least the definition that I use with the IT folks tasked with building or deploying a social platform within the enterprise. Much as I love the technical mumbo-jumbo, its not particularly interesting for the folks in line of business, so here is an attempt to peak their interest.
I was reading John Stepper’s blog post where he described his journey in convincing the business of the value of social, and there was one quote that really resonated with me. “The problem was that I was talking about what I had instead of talking about what they needed.” This is a very familiar hole that us IT folks enthusiastically fall into… head first and at high speed, not a pleasant sight :-) So keeping John’s words of wisdom firmly in mind, below is my stab at explaining a Social Business Platform to the line of business.
I am going to use the same 3 themes (with different wording) as used for the IT version so as to provide consistency between what the business needs to get and what IT needs to provide. I have had some fun and games trying to implement projects where the business wanted to jump ahead to the analytics (Theme 3) without realizing that it needed to lay down the social network first (Themes 1 & 2). The system can’t recommend an expert if it doesn’t know what type of expert you might need as compared to the skills that are out there. All stuff that it learns from the knowledge network. “We reap what we sow”, you have to invest in the network to get the benefits from that network.
Social Business is not a new concept. Businesses have always been social, its why we have expressions like “Its not what you know, but who you know” or “People buy from people, not from companies”. The only thing that has changed is the breadth of social. Historically people have only been able to build relationships from face-to-face interactions; chatting around the water cooler, grabbing a coffee, walking around the shop talking with customers or around the office getting to know your staff. It was all personal. Even today if you attend a conference most people will admit that the greatest value is realized from those impromptu meetings that happen in corridors.
Today the world has become smaller, businesses global, competition fierce, communication digital, and all the while people are increasingly trying to regain the voice that they have lost in the last two decades of globalization. We no longer know our bank managers personally, are on first name basis with the local shop owner, or have any allegiance to the products we buy or even the companies we work for. They are all faceless global corporations. And its this increasing sense of alienation that a social business platform trys to address.
A Social Business Platform…
Helps people share information and build relationships across communities that are globally distributed.
=> Maximize organizational knowledge with minimal individual effort through lightweight sharing (single click, application triggered, automatic) integrated into existing business applications to make sharing a natural extension of existing work practices.
Helps the business understand what’s happening across the enterprise.
=> Capture human action & interaction across application silos, and lay down the enterprise social network.
Improves business productivity at both individual and organizational level.
=> Makes people more productive by giving them access to the right information exactly when they need it; filter the activity stream or proactively recommend (people, content, activities, …) as it relates to exactly what they are doing at a specific point in time.
=> Makes organizations more productive by helping them understanding exactly what’s going on within the business; identify the flow of information, knowledge gaps, key people or teams, organization sentiment, …