The rise of social business

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By Aileen Rodriguez It?s easy to forget that e-commerce is a recent innovation. Fifteen years ago, buying books or shoes online seemed novel. But almost overnight, e-commerce and traditional commerce merged. Human behavior changed ? from browsing to buying, from surfing to selling ? until there was no more ?online business.? Only business. An identical shift is unfolding now with social technology. Social media?s leaps in the past five years barely hint at what social technology will do over the next five. It?s your customers. And your colleagues. Social technology is about more than engaging fans and attracting ?likes.? It?s about building communities within your workforce, where colleagues create and share ideas. And it?s about empowering your customers and partners to help you build your brand. On a smarter planet, leaders in every industry are taking advantage of social technology, erasing distinctions between ?social business? and business. And human behavior is changing again. Increasingly, your customers and employees expect you ? and your competitors ? to integrate social into your core business processes. Any business that isn?t social by design won?t stay in business. A social workforce is a smarter workforce. We Filipinos are social animals, even at work. With 1 in 3 Filipinos now having access to the internet, and with 80 to 95 percent of these netizens using social media, you don?t need to convince your workforce of social?s value ? you just need to create a culture that guides and supports social to your working process. Picture a company that doesn?t follow the flow of a strict organizational chart, but thrives as a network of communities. What if your employees could spot gaps in their expertise, and quickly identify the best colleagues to fill them? Or if your staff could instantly crowdsource and share knowledge across departments, across languages, across oceans? For example, Cemex, a $15 billion cement giant with solid operations in the Philippines was facing some familiar issues not so long ago. Its corporate knowledge was spread all over ? vulnerable to deleted files, or an engineer?s retirement. But since 2009, IBM systems for social business have let staffers in 50 countries swap ideas and insights in real time. And employees have built a network of groups and blogs around shared skills and projects, helping Cemex launch its first global brand in just a third of the anticipated time. Social technology also helps companies attract talent, develop employees? skills faster, and show employees how delighting customers improves business performance. That?s the promise of a smarter workforce. Turning customers into advocates. It?s only taken social media half a decade to alter consumer behavior. Social inputs like reviews and comments already drive up to a third of consumer spending, and by 2022, social technology will enable an estimated four of every five customer transactions. With consumers so empowered, it?s crucial for your entire workforce to use social technology to help delight customers. Your brand?s success will depend on matching what it promises with what it delivers. There?s no business but social business. Investing in becoming a social business ? in helping your workforce deliver exceptional customer experiences ? has never been more urgent. A 5 percent decrease in customer attrition can boost profits by up to 95 percent. And finding new customers can cost up to seven times as much as keeping the ones you have. Becoming a social business goes beyond building a social network. It demands capturing and analyzing the vast amount of data that network creates. Harnessing that data can remove boundaries inside and outside your company. And before you know it, there will be no more ?social business.? Only business. The author is the country manager for software group at IBM Philippines ]]>

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