Social Business Agenda

Not that long ago,  the developing social networking space was regarded as somewhat of a curiosity.

Many organizations looked on with some indifference as social networking sites such as Facebook started to emerge. But all that has changed dramatically in a very short period of time. New conversations are now happening with profound implications for how organizations will operate in the future, and how they will capitalize on social business.

But what has changed? To answer that question, we need to explore just a little history. Consumer or citizen based organizations historically have largely operated in an ecosystem of businesses selling to consumers. Over time and especially with the emergence of the customer focused organization, this became a strong two way connection and relationship. But essentially the relationship was between the business and the consumer.
But the big change that is now happening with lightning speed is the “consumer to consumer” connection, via social networking in particular. This “C to C” landscape is re-defining the way organizations need to connect with consumers and relate to the broader stakeholder community. This “many to many” set of connections provides a more complex set of issues for organizations to manage.
Lets take Facebook as an example of what is happening out there. We are very familiar with the number of active users on Facebook – over 500 million. But what is more significant is what those users are doing.For example:

  • 50% of active users log on each day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • Average user creates 90 pieces of content per month
  • One of the fastest growing user segments in Australia is the >55 years
This data illustrates the scale of the information explosion and its inherent complexity. The key issue is how to capture the gems of information that can help make better decisions. As an example, we are now seeing various US based retailers such as Wal-Mart and The Gap engaging with consumers via Facebook in helping them shape products or offerings.
 The above developments are challenging to any organization. But they highlight the need to consider organization capabilities very differently. There are three areas in particular:
  1. Confront the reality – Social business is a new capability. How is your organization defining this capability?
  2. Think and act outside the four walls of your organization – The consumer landscape has shifted fundamentally, especially in the “C to C” space. What is your organization doing to identify new capabilities and opportunities from this shift?
  3. Think big, start small but fail fast – The way strategy is shaped and executed needs to be very agile. How is your organization shaping and executing its approach to social business?


One thought on “Social Business Agenda

  1. Not to disagree at all but I saw yesterday a contrarian data point: A small mainframe software vendor got lambasted on the IBM-MAIN newsgroup for disseminating information via Facebook. (I don’t think it was ONLY via Facebook but it may well have been there FIRST before being posted elsewhere.)

    The argument against was that many customers have blocked Facebook for their employees. (I once visited a customer where the organisation had its own Twitter ID but banned its employees from using Twitter.)

    I pointed out on IBM-MAIN this was the way of the world: Increasing reliance on Social Networking.

    But still we’ve some way to go. I suspect when employers wake up to the recruitment disadvantages of banning Social Networking tools the landscape will change. (I’m not so certain that retention matters so much as recruitment – at least not in this economic phase.)

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