IBM is a Social Business

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed John Kerr, director for Edelman Digital in APAC. In the interview, we briefly touched on Edelman’s definition of Social Business and the belief in this strategy as the way forward. It seems this concept of social business is ramping up, as you can see in this Fast Company story on IBM.

For companies in AP, I think this is a great reference point on how to move forward at this stage, especially if you are already lagging behind in the social realm. IBM classifies social business as collaboration, sharing and lead generation within a digital landscape. I found the reference to IBM becoming an eBusiness leader in the late 90s quite interesting, because at that time, all the talk was eCommerce. Anyone else remember that transition? Of course, practically every company is an eBusiness now, we just don’t talk about it anymore. I expect that every business will be a social business in the near future, or will it be eloquently positioned as sBusiness? You heard it here first if sBusiness takes off.

It seems the new transition (and associated verbiage) is squarely focused on moving from social media to social business, and when IBM lay down a vision like this, all will eventually follow. There is also a key message here for B2B companies. As they state in the article, IBM is no longer a B2C business, so if you’re in the B2B space and think this is all consumer focused waffle, I would suggest IBM’s lead might make you think again?

 The seven take aways for me in the Fast Company article by Drew Neisser were:

  1. Social business will dwarf social media – essentially social media is perceived as a modestly effective marketing tool while a social business is defined as “the way people are interacting in digital experiences and apply the insights derived to a wide variety of different business processes.”
  2. It’s about truly making an organisation customer-centric across the board, because as we all know, we do business with people not companies
  3. Get your employees trained and moving ahead – they need to be “digital citizens” and you need to help them understand the personal impact of their interactions, which IBM are doing with personal dashboards
  4. Try different approaches, train as many people as you can, and watch it grow
  5. Be creative in your approach, and be inspirational – IBM implemented its “Centennial Celebration of Service,” a skills based program, which motivated thousands to participate and share – integrating humanitarian causes are always a nice touch and something that gets people motivated to be social it seems
  6. A social business more effectively collaborates, with geographical distance irrelevant – reminds me of the internal communications platform Cisco utilize that I discussed with David Cook in another blog
  7. Fail, change focus, get moving again – but do it all quickly. Hanging around and planning for months on end is not going to be to your advantage

I think this is a great summary for businesses in AP taking tentative steps in the social realm. Companies who lead the social media revolution are moving on, so rather than following what has already happened; perhaps it’s an opportunity to get ahead by focusing on being a Social Business and all that entails?

One thing I’m certain of, there’s sure to be a lot of training dollars spent on these initiatives.

Andrea Edwards

Managing Director


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