Social Business matters today – and will matter even more tomorrow

Social business is just getting started. But its value is clearly emerging for innovation, operations, leadership and marketing. So what are companies really doing?

In 2012 MIT Sloane Management conducted a survey to really investigate that question. Below you will find my highlights and takeaways from this study.

Even though social technologies have been around for some years now. The sentiment from the report is that many companies are still holding back on the adoption of social tools. Of those surveyed, 52% said that it was important or somewhat important to them today. Whilst 86% believe that it will be important or somewhat important in three years.
Social business is primarily viewed as a tool for external facing activities with marketing departments, sales and customer services being the main driving force with customer relationship management being at the forefront.
The second important use of social software was to drive innovation and competitive differentiation. So whilst the majority see the importance over the coming years most are viewing social tools as external activity, with a smaller group understanding its potential for internal innovation and collaboration.

The Barriers.
The report highlights the biggest barrier is leadership vision. However it is noted that CEOs are twice as likely to drive strategic adoption of social tools than the CIO and CFO.
Lack of understanding on how to measure the effectiveness of social tools is also cited as an inhibitor of adoption with many not measuring at all. Social business depends on leadership, metrics may not be critical when experimenting with social software, but as it becomes more important to organisations, having metrics in place can help managers assess, encourage and reward related behaviours. Helping shift their cultures to be more compatible with social business. CEOs recognise that leadership can be improved with social business, may be more than other members of the C-Suite.

The Challenge
Gartner estimates that the failure rate for social business projects is 70%. That is astonishingly high. Factors that could be responsible include:
– Not using the software deployed to solve a true business problem
– Integration into daily work flow
– Lack of senior management support
– Thinking email is a collaborative tool
– The use of “Social” with the word “Business” vs “Social Media”
– Not realising we are Human. (The three basic psychological factors : The need to connect, feel competent and the need to be autonomous in one’s actions)

The report asked “Why do you use social business at work?” The top three answers being : To network, effectiveness and to voice opinions.
Motivations to participate in social business activities are thus far from superficial and even go beyond just our social nature. They can help fulfil basic psychological needs.

The report also noted that larger organisations and smaller organisations appreciate the value of social business more than that of mid size organisations. With the smaller companies saying they could increase their voice and connect with customers to really make themselves seem bigger than they really are.

The Plan
A clear vision of how social media supports the business strategy was top facilitator in the report. So the first step in your social business journey is to create and communicate the broader social strategy for your organisation. What business challenges are to be solved with  social business activities? What is the Strategy to make this happen? What technology best supports these objectives? What kinds of social networks will support this strategy? Most important is to realise that your social business journey will take time, require and drive changes to your business processes. Defining organisational structure an how you interact with customers and employees.

Take the time to access where you are today, identify problems that are currently being addressed with social tools. Consider if the correct resources are being directed towards the right problems. If you are heavily regulated make sure you have governance process in place to address these. Identify the people or roles that will focus on social business and how these individuals will coordinate with each other. Use listening tools to collect information about your brand, customer service and competition. This area hols tremendous potential for organisations.

Ensuring that your business has enough resources is fundamental. Have you chosen to assign the tasks to an individual or will it be on top of someone’s day job. Will you have incentives in place, targeting and rewarding the correct people. Have you resources in place for communication, content creation, community management and training.

Whilst the report makes it clear that many companies are not measuring and whilst in experimentation mode this may not be so important. Measurement will however need to be conducted especially when redefining practices and processes, measuring adoption thought will be misleading so not advised. For people, often what matters most is whether the tools helps them to do their jobs more effectively.


Given that social business is just getting started you may be tempted to wait. But that approach may delay achieving its potential in your organisation, to the detriment of your innovation, leadership, operations and marketing.

Perspectives from tomorrow’s leaders in a digital world

Almost everyday I get the opportunity to discuss the digital landscape, present and future, with some bright minds. The latest study from IBM the 2012 Global Student Study, collected the results from over 3,300 students from around the world and it forms a fantastic read. You can get a copy from me here: Download

Here are some excerpts I found interesting.

Growing up with social and mobile technology at their finger tips, students have already integrated technology into their world view. When thinking about major forces, students are much more preoccupied with the impact of the economy on the job market, versus CEO’s who are are focused on technology integration.

Digital, social and mobile spheres are quickly converging – connecting customers, employees and partners to organisations and to each other. As a result, employees are beginning to be empowered as part of open, less rigidly controlled organisations. Customers are increasingly engaged as individuals rather than market segments – anywhere and at any time.

Although business leaders are acutely aware of the pervasive influence of new digital channels, students view them as even more important. Only 56 percent of CEOs use Web sites and social media for customer relationships today, compared to 70 percent of students who believe organisations should do so. Today, CEOs believe face-to-face interaction is the most important tool in building customer relationships, while students cite social media and Web sites. Both students and CEOs do agree, however, that traditional media falls behind both face-to-face interaction and social media/Web sites

Five out of ten students said they interact online with people they don’t already know – in other words, they use social media to reconfigure and expand their social networks into totally new areas. In fact, even before finishing college, students are joining professional social networks such as LinkedIn to establish and benefit from professional relationships.

Students are moving past the “personally social” and seeing the connection between social media and global citizenship. The majority of them, 61 percent, said that social media has helped increase their awareness of the world. They believe that, compared to older generations, social media has made them more aware of global issues and how they can make a difference in the world. Nearly half of students said social media has given them a more powerful voice in society.

Top-five questions from the 2012 IBM Student Study with greatest regional variation.

What did you think of those answers? Is the older generation ready to take steps towards transparency? Drop your comments below and say hello.

What do today’s CEOs think of social media? [Infographic]

CEOs are searching for customer insight.

Customer insight has always been highly prized, in recent years the pursuit has changed in two key ways. First there is far more raw data to draw from than ever before. Second, “knowing the customer” is no longer confined to segmentation,statistical averages and historical reference. Its is about knowing a customer as a human being – interests, attitudes and life circumstances that bring to life the preferences and needs.

Can organisations pick up on these cues, especially from the outside?

But even if they discover it, are their organisations equipped to respond with relevance and speed?



To read this study go here

Where are you looking for insight?

What challenges are you facing in this data rich complex society?

Where did my dinner come from? I want to know!

You’re in the grocery store, staring at a row of fish, trying to figure out which one is the most sustainable. Then you spot a code on the label and breathe a sigh of relief. You pull out your smartphone, aim it at a code, and presto, you know instantly when, how, and where that cod was caught — and that you can now grill it up guilt free tonight.

This is the future of food, one that’s barreling towards us. In China, with its recent spate of food safety issues, shoppers are using bar codes in markets to track down — and pay more for — chickens raised in Hong Kong, which has a better food safety record. Westfleisch, Europe’s fifth largest producer of meat, is slapping QR codes on its products so consumers in stores can track where an animal was raised and slaughtered and when it was packaged.

In part, this transition to smarter food is happening because today’s consumers are voracious when it comes to information about what they put on their tables.

via Where did my dinner come from? I want to know | SmartPlanet.

As yet this is not something I have done – though I am a fussy eater. My buying preference is based on brand trust. If its BirdsEye for instance I assume it will be better quality than a superstore brand.

What is your buying preference? Do you scan the food?

The Big Customer Social Shift

Did you know?

46% percent of the executives in the survey stated that they had increased their investment in social technologies in 2012 and 62% stated that they will increase their social business investments in the next three years.

Social business transforms the way organizations communicate by using interactive engagement models with customers, employees, and suppliers. To better understand the opportunities, challenges and risks of weaving social business into the organizational fabric, and to provide a path to progress for organizations looking to capitalize on its benefits, the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) surveyed more than 1,100 executives and conducted 26 in-depth interviews with widely recognized social business leaders.

The study found that most companies today largely use social business in marketing and public relations. However, the use of social technologies and approaches is expected to rapidly extend into a wide range of front-office business processes, in particular customer service, sales and internal communications. Leading companies are increasingly incorporating social technologies into their processes to increase revenue, attract talent and share knowledge across and beyond the boundaries of the organization.

Over the next three years, the majority of survey respondents indicate they will increase investment in social technologies to improve and expedite communications and access to information and people. Organizations are applying these investments to:

  • Create valued customer experiences
  • Drive workforce productivity and effectiveness
  • Accelerate innovation.

Create Valued Customer Experiences

As today’s consumers become ever more technology enabled, failure to communicate with them through the media they prefer can create an engagement gap difficult to overcome. C-level executives recognize this, which is why, in two recent IBM C-Suite studies, the 2012 Global Chief Executive Officer Study and the 2011 Global Chief Marketing Officer Study, senior executives expressed a strong desire to use social tools to understand customers and create experiences that attract and retain them.   Leading organizations, such as American Express, are focusing their social business resources in three areas: listening to and engaging with customers, building communities to share information and insight and creating better sales and support experiences.

Drive Workforce Productivity

Applying social business technologies within a company and its surrounding value chain can substantially improve visibility of knowledge, finding and building expertise, and collaborating with partners and suppliers. This use of social technologies spans most industries, including, among others: automotive, banking, insurance, manufacturing, retail, and increasingly, government. Avensure provides the best human resource management in manufacturing industry. Organizations such as TD Bank, CEMEX and Boston Children’s Hospital are finding innovative ways of collaborating inside and outside the organization to improve productivity and reduce time-to-competence.

Accelerate Innovation

Social technologies have made it significantly easier to raise the visibility of new ideas, regardless of their source, allowing companies to acquire new ideas from almost anyone who touches their organization. Companies such as LEGO Group and Beiersdorf are finding new ways of reaching out to their entire ecosystem to come up with new ideas that have a direct impact on their business.  Social technologies also enable organizations to host structured innovation efforts like Jams and Hack Days as well as tap into collaboration arising from day-to-day work. The IBV study details how some organizations are implementing these approaches to accelerate innovation in their firms.

Embed Social in the Organization

Purposeful deployment of social technologies is integral to organizations realizing business value from their social business investments. Social business is a disruptive and transformative approach that can yield measurable returns when applied to specific business outcomes. Yet, this study uncovered the fact that only about 20 percent of organizations can identify key performance indicators and track ROI on social business projects.  Organizations also need to understand and mange the risks associated with employing social technologies to become more interactive with and transparent to customers, suppliers and employees.  The report noted that organizations need to implement change management practices if they are to deploy successfully social technologies.

The Business of Social Business IBV Study

Download the study from SlideShare

Are you pioneering cloud platform as a service? [Infographic]

A growing number of pioneering companies see the unique advantages of Cloud platform as a service (PaaS)—which offers the speed and saving of alternatives like infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS), while allowing the user to retain choice and control over applications and data. These pioneers are adopting PaaS faster and providing valuable insight into the strategic benefits it can bring to an enterprise.

Get the full report: Insights from Platforms as a Service pioneers HERE

10 Tips for Navigating Your Org with Connections

Ten Tips for Navigating Your Organization Through a Successful IBM Connections Pilot

 Image Tim Royle, Executive Director, ISW

Proof of concept, pilot, or evaluation, call it what you may, but most organizations nowadays are sticking their toe in the water before “going social”.

For many, it’s a big move. Transforming isolated data silos into a consolidated social platform that delivers outstanding collaboration and creativity benefits yet also challenges traditional reporting hierarchies may intimidate some. So, running a pilot is judicious.

Like most software implementations, social software is often piloted in a proof of concept before roll-out. This gives management and users confidence in the outcome as a viable solution, allows time for user acceptance testing and prevents any “issues” being rolled out to a broader audience. The solution can be fine-tuned post pilot and rolled out. Because social software is new, unique challenges apply and flexibility is essential.

Experience is sage in this new era of social business; learning from the mistakes and successes of early adopters will enhance your chances of success. Here are some points of consideration, learned from the real, world which may help you with your pilot.

via 10 Tips for Navigating Your Org with IBM Connections – IBM Social Business Insights Blog.

8. Create a social, sharing culture

 Some organizations are more “open” in their internal communications and collaboration than others. Consider the simple scale below and plot where you think your organization sits:



Some individuals are more open than others; a salesperson, for example, may choose not to share information because they see it as their intellectual property, their asset. A subject matter expert may be reluctant to share their knowledge because if they do so they feel less indispensable. The introduction of social software offers a unique opportunity to challenge “closed” environments and the potential to deliver fantastic bottom line benefits through the sharing of knowledge. Try to create a culture of sharing rather than hiding.

Social Retail – The Evolution

Currently one of many concerns for the retailer is getting the best product and the best price to its customer. Could the evolution of Social Retail develop a new relational model to offer clients valuable services together (recipes, nutritional info, personalized recommendations for dietary and much more) to bring a healthier and more comfortable life.

Learn more: HERE


Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies

The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologie:

There’s plenty of research and comment around topics such as finding new customers, customer satisfaction, collaboration, building value, individual benefits from embracing Social technologies…    This report demonstrates that IBM is ahead of the curve for adoption (own use) and for solutions for firms embracing (for their use).

Key findings include :

The speed and scale of adoption of social technologies by consumers has exceeded that of previous technologies.
– Several distinct properties of social technologies make them uniquely powerful enablers of value creation. The most fundamental is to endow social interactions with the speed, scale, and economics of the Internet.
– Based on in-depth analysis of usage in sectors that represent almost 20 percent of global industry sales, we identify ten ways in which social technologies can create value across the value chain.
– Companies that rely heavily on consumer insights for product development and marketing purposes have an opportunity to create value by engaging with consumers on social media and monitoring social media conversations to generate consumer insights and market intelligence.
– Individuals and the communities they form will derive much of the benefits of social technologies.
– Giving social interactions Internet scale, speed, and economics carries risks. These risks include identity theft, loss of intellectual property, violations of privacy, abuse, and damage to reputations. Social technologies also can disrupt traditional business models.
– The benefits of social technologies will likely outweigh the risks for most companies.

Download the full report HERE

Mgi the social economy full report mckinsey from Ben Martin Social_Ben.
If you have any questions or want to explore the benefits of being a social business, contact me.

Using Sport to Inspire Careers in Science and Technology

Reading this press release from IBM (full article) I do enjoy being part of an inspiring company.

IBM Hursley hosted one hundred Year eight girls, from ten different schools around Hampshire and the surrounding counties, for a two day camp known as think.IT. The aim of the camp, which was repeated twice over the week, is to encourage girls to continue studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and eventually consider careers within the IT industry.

Split into teams so that no two girls from the same school worked together, the girls were tasked with designing and marketing a brand new product, this year in the field of Technology in Sport, before presenting their idea to a team of judges in the form of IBM executives and  Master Inventors.

The camps began with a brainstorming session during which the girls explored ideas and selected one to take to market. The girls were then taught the basics of marketing and the importance of branding and applied this knowledge to their product by developing a business plan and creating a brand logo, slogan and designing a web site. Team building exercises and mentoring on presentation skills helped them prepare for their final presentation to the judges.

Local MP for Romsey and Southampton North, Caroline Nokes, who returned again this year to watch the girls commented: “I was very impressed with the inspirational speakers and the enthusiasm shown for IT during my visit. A thoroughly enjoyable morning.”

The two winning ideas were:
–    Training Buddy. “Working out how to work out” – A smartphone application designed to offer injury prevention, treatment and nutrition advice to athletes.
–    Leaf. “The personal best trainer” – A silicone ear piece that moulds to the ear of the user, and allows an athlete to communicate wirelessly with their coach whilst training.

The runners up were:
–    Morfs – An innovative sports shoe that uses interchangeable soles, so that the same pair of shoes can be used for a variety of sports.
–    My Grip – A multi-functional grip constructed from a combination of memory foam and a non-slip rubber surface, that moulds to the shape of an athlete’s hands.

I think these are fantastic ideas they came up with, what do you think?