Social Business Platform Elevator Pitch… for LOB

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.

The Preamble…

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, …

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3 Comments to “Social Business Platform Elevator Pitch… for LOB”

  1. Perhaps the way to look at this is not ‘enterprise down’ but ’employee up’. I think there is still a vital piece of the digital social infrastructure missing – and this is the tool that allows the individual to operate as a social media citizen. And I have a suspicion that this tool will emerge out of the workplace, because the providers of the current tools (Google, Facebook et al) don’t have a commercial interest in allowing this tool to exist. They don’t want an aggregator of multiple services, they want to be the only service. However, there will be a significant commercial advantage for organisations that can provide the simple tool that allows their employees to become social digitally enabled.

    I wrote something some years back that set out what I saw as the social platform for a citizen – but perhaps it could equally well apply to an employee – and thus business http://richardstacy.com/2008/04/24/being-loic/

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    • I would definitely agree that in addition to companies laying down the right infrastructure to allow them to leverage social business most effectively there is indeed an urgent need for tooling which simplifies the process of engaging with social. I am an avid user of social so am quite savvy with the various tools and tricks out there for making my life a bit easier, but even then I end up struggling to interact electronically with people the way I would like to. It’s still really clunky by anyone’s definition.

      And love the blog post :) The classics never go out of fashion! And isn’t it mad that we are still talking about social 5 years later and really have made such trivial inroads from an enterprise adoption perspective. It’s been a long circuitous and painful journey.

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      • I fundamentally miscalculated just how long it would take for businesses to develop an understanding of social – both in terms of opportunity and also impact on their current business models. But this is the case with all true revolutions, where people tend to overestimate the impact in the short term but underestimate the impact in the long term. This is a long term shift.

        The creation of communities of connection is definitely going to be thing that drives the most radical shift going forwards. But exactly how these communities will form and who will own them is still open to debate. I am not convinced that a traditional enterprise level approach is going to be the area where the real commercial opportunity emerges – which of course has significant implications for organisations like IBM. I think it will be a bit like the emergence of the PC 25 years ago. IBM got into the PC business with great reluctance, despite the fact that once it worked out how to do it, it became the dominant player and made lots of money. This was because it didn’t fit with the enterprise level, top-down, mainframe dominated mindset of the organisation.

        I remember the conversation we had with Mike Morrison over a sandwich and MWLive, where he was talking about the opportunity to create solutions for individuals, rather than corporations. I think this is where the commercial opportunity will emerge, even if – as with the PC – usage is initially stimulated and funded by corporates rather than individuals. I very strongly believe that IBM should see its community products not just as a main-frame or mid-range type solution, but as a PC type solution. A distribution marketing type of sale, not a client relationship sale. If memory serves me right, Distribution Marketing was in fact the name of the department IBM set up to sell PCs back in the day.

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