By Kathy (Kat) Mandelstein, Director of Worldwide Marketing, Web and Events, IBM Collaboration Solutions & Social Business
Last week I was the guest for the #bizforum twitter chat debate on “Is Social Business Inevitable?”. Even though both the moderator, Sam Fiorella of Sensei Marketing and I were very clear up front on defining Social Business, I still saw a lot of tweets discussing Social Media metrics and monitoring and not really focusing on how social is transforming the enterprise. While Social Media definitely influenced social adoption and plays a role in the external voice of a company, it is a subset of the social capabilities used by a Social Business. It is not the whole story because Social Business ≠ Social Media for Business.
I do think Social Business is inevitable. Just like the last major era of IT, the Internet, transformed business over a decade ago. Many businesses back in the late ‘90s thought the Internet was a passing fad and that people would never actually do business on the internet. Well we know that was not the case… Another reason I believe it is inevitable is the next generation of workers will expect the same social capabilities that they have grown up with as a key way of communicating in their personal life be part of how they communicate in the workplace. Last night I guest lectured in a Digital Marketing class at St. Edward’s University in my hometown, Austin, Texas. I saw lots of nodding heads when I talked about how we use Social both inside the firewall and externally at IBM. They expected to be able to use social in the workplace…seemed strange to them that some companies did not allow it.
I got several questions on our Social Computing Guidelines, what it allowed and didn’t and how did an employee know where to draw the line on transparency of what they are working on at work when out on external social networks and in Jams. I explained the difference between what they could freely share on our internal social network on IBM Connections and where the line was drawn for external social networks on things like product features prior to public launch and earnings information prior to the quarterly earnings information and that in addition to the guidelines there were laws that did limit the level of transparency on topics like these, IBM was one of the first too actually write Social Computing guidelines back in 2005 and it was done by a cross-company committee that I happened to have sat on. Back then it focused on blogs. They were revised to encompass all social networks in 2008 and earlier this week revised again. The guidelines evolve just as the impact of social is evolving and becoming more pervasive in our daily lives.
I am actually writing this blog post on a plane on the way to New York City where I will be talking about IBM’s own journey to becoming a Social Business at the Social Media Master Conference tomorrow. Even though New York is not officially one of the cities participating in Social Media Week this time, there are actually two Social focused events there this week, the one I am speaking at and a Mashable conference. Mashable published an excellent article yesterday on why businesses might want to have their own internal social network. This is the other side of the coin to Social Business. It is both a technology transformation, but more importantly a cultural transformation to how employees collaborate at all levels of the company and how silos are broken down by being able to form project teams of experts who come together to work on a project regardless of reporting structure or geographic location. This is now the norm inside of IBM and we see a lot of our customers and partners also on this same journey to becoming a Social Business. Where do you see social transforming your business? Join the conversation with us on twitter with the #IBMSocialBiz hashtag and see what other’s are saying on our Social Business conversation aggregator.