By Aileen Rodriguez
Just as the Internet changed the economics of information and business models several years back, a new shift is occurring as the social networking phenomena shifts into global business.
Once viewed as a tool for students and teens to connect with one another, social networking has had a profound effect on society. Couple this with the explosion of mobile devices and new Cloud delivery models and what we have is a perfect storm of industry trends that make this the right time for social networking to move from the hands of teens to business.
Companies are now combining social technologies, the cloud, mobile, and analytics to create a flexible, intelligent framework for making the most of social connections.
According to IBM?s most recent survey of CEOs, 57 percent picked social business as a top priority and some 73 percent are making significant investments in analyzing data.
? Chief marketing officers (CMOs) are working to gain insights from the updates people share with each other on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to react more quickly to trends and create exceptional customers experience that inspire brand loyalty.
? Chief human resource officers (CHRO) are building communities for prospective, current, and even retired employees that help improve recruiting and talent management services.
? Organizations just like Fluor are adopting social technologies to create stronger, more productive links among their workforce, so they can share knowledge and creativity, no matter where they are, what device they use, or what time zone they?re in.
As the transformation journey begins, something you must keep in mind is that becoming a Social Business does not simply involve going out and buying technology that plugs into existing systems.
Although social media services have become a dominant force they cannot enable a company to go from ?liking? to ?leading.? That type of transformation requires social media technologies designed for the enterprise, something only a few companies have a track record in developing.
Let me share a good case study. At Fluor Corp., one of biggest engineering and construction companies in the world with solid presence in the Philippines, the social technologies that made Twitter and Facebook a part of our everyday lives are getting a workout.
Fluor rolled out a social networking platform that lets its 43,000 employees connect by uploading photos of themselves, creating detailed profiles, and interacting through more than 1,200 collaboration spaces.
Their goal was to turbocharge the sharing of expertise among its employees and encourage a deeper level of innovation that could ultimately create what we like to call the Workforce of the Future. An ambitious, yet deceptively simple project, but one that wasn?t possible until companies could tap into what makes social media so powerful — personal connections.
Harnessing connections is what defines the new age of social business. And navigating this change and the impact it?s having on every aspect of a company, from operations to supply chain, marketing to product development, is becoming the next big challenge for companies and an emerging battleground for IT.
Social technologies also aren?t additive. They?re transformative. So whether it?s a CHRO launching the workforce of the future or the CMO looking to deliver exceptional customer experiences, companies should not expect to get everything right from the start or be put off by bumps in the road or resistance based on initial fears of becoming a social business. Keep in mind the experiences that companies went through, how many failed and succeeded, as they strove to weave the Internet into their operations.
Becoming a social business requires experimentation among the ranks of management and the workforce. Success depends on the involvement of leadership whether it?s the CEO, CMO, CIO or the CHRO. Just launching a service or program doesn?t work.
Without getting the buy in of leadership and having them show that this is the way that the company is doing business, social business won?t gain traction. Hiring expertise in analytics and big data and cultivating the use of it throughout the ranks provides the foundation every company will need going forward to make the most of social business.
Companies can?t afford to not figure this out. A disconnect between how we live our lives ? through digital connections and sharing — and how we work isn?t sustainable. Particularly since the new generation of workers who will fill companies? ranks don?t know any other way of interacting and working than social media.
The rate of productivity, innovation, and employee retention will increasingly depend on who can master this coming age of social business.
The author is the country manager for software group at IBM Philippines