Social Business (also known as Enterprise 2.0)

In a recent post at the MarketingProfs Daily Fix, Don’t Forget About The Enterprise: A Glimpse Of Enterprise 2.0, Jacob Morgan explains that oftentimes when we refer to social media, we mean “how a brand can engage with customers or prospects to build relationships.” Morgan notes that these relationships are external facing:

…meaning brand to consumer, and are used for functions such as product development, customer service, increasing sales, and marketing. Through social media, companies seek to understand and do things such as: empower their customers, collaborate with their customers and prospects, and gain actionable insight from their customers.

Internal versus External Collaboration

Morgan goes on to explain that “a very similar type or relationship with collaboration, actionable insight, and empowerment also needs to happen internally WITHIN the enterprise; oftentimes called Enterprise 2.0, a termed coined by Andrew McAfee a few years back.”

Morgan believes that most companies should begin their social business transformation internally before branching out externally. He explains the rationale for focusing first on internal change:

There are several benefits to doing this such as building a social corporate culture, familiarizing the company with new tools, and understanding how to gain actionable insight and drive business results from collaboration. Once the company as a whole understands this, then it becomes much easier to build relationships and collaborate externally, with prospects and existing customers.

Taking Social to the Core of Your Organization

Morgan’s presentation complements very well the themes in a recent O’Reilley webcast, “Taking Social to the Core of Your Organization,” with an online panel featuring Stowe Boyd, Peter Kim, Jeremiah Owyang, and Joshua-Michele Ross. The webcast (tagged as socbs#  on Twitter) defines social business, provides successful examples, and discusses long–term challenges.

According to Stow Boyd, social business is “business organized intentionally around sociology and social tools.” Peter Kim adds, “social business is business,” being done with the same objectives as always—building brands, driving sales, and sometimes even changing lives—but business which simultaneously recognizes that the environment we’re operating in, including the world we work in and the ways customers engage, is very different.”

Jeremiah Owyang states that social business is not just marketing. It applies to all customer touchpoints, and across the entire organization, including product innovation, collaboration with partners, supply chain management, recruiting, and talent management.

Levers for Becoming a Social Business

As moderator, Joshua-Michele Ross helps summarize the following levers, mentioned in the panel discussion, which bring about an enterprise’s internal transformation to a social business:

  • A process with social guidelines is already in place. (For example, IBM co-created their guidelines, with  employees.)
  • Employees use social tools to collaborate internally, before opening up external gates. (Examples: employee networks on Facebook, Yammer, Jive, and Social Text.)
  • Companies reconsider the role of individuals in the company, with greater value of and incentives for extra market forces and nonfinancial drivers, including an individual’s sense of meaning and purpose.

Exemplars of Social Business

According to the panel, the most successful examples of social businesses include those who are already using social processes and tools internally. Those business that systematically encourage openness inside the organization are the most likely to empower employees to engage with the outside world. Panelists mentioned Intel, Dell, IBM, and Comcast Cares as exemplars.

Obstacles to Social Business

The panelists also noted common obstacles to becoming an Enterprise 2.0, as problems in scalability, increased signal to noise ratio, and resistance to change. Panelists agreed that measuring the ROI of social capital is difficult, but that organizations can measure the ROI of social media the same as any other effort that involves objectives. For example, marketing metrics often measure social mentions and that is measurable in social media as well.

How to Get Others Involved

According to Peter Kim, the way to get others in your organization involved, depends on where in the organization you’re placed.

For those at the top, Kim recommends making the executive commitment, putting a budget and resources in place, and letting people allocate time. For those in the middle, it means examining where the tools fit in the overall business strategy. For those at the lower levels of an organization, it means using the tools to be more productive at work.

For more tips on getting others involved, see Kim’s presentation, on Social Business.

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