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Social Business

People don’t do business with companies.
People do business with people.
Here is why―and how—to become a Social Business.

Social business moves front and center

Social business is the next step in the overall evolution of business. As our global network of people becomes more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, dramatic shifts are taking place. The ways in which people interact, relationships form, decisions are made, work is accomplished and goods are purchased are fundamentally changing.

Consumers now wield unprecedented power over how brands are perceived and purchases are made. Crowdsourcing is changing industry landscapes by leveling the intelligence playing field at an extraordinary rate. In addition, employees are demanding social tools in the workplace, and are actively sidestepping established hierarchies and IT processes to use them. As a result, the world finds itself at a transformative point with regard to how business is done. We believe it is the dawn of a new era ― the era of the social business.

Just as the advent of e-business changed business forever, ten years later organizations find themselves at another junction point in the evolution of business: the coming of age for social business as social computing and social media are integrated into enterprise design.


Not when… but how to do social business

The data is clear: social business propels results (PDF,958KB).57% of companies who invest in social business outperform their peers. They see real business value, whether it's a 25% increase in business or a 20% drop in the time it takes to manage projects.1

Social business is no longer "nice to do," it's a necessity to survive today's volatile business climate. According to Forrester Research, spending on social business software is expected to grow at a rate of 61% through 2016, a year in which the market for these products will reach $6.4 billion, compared with $600 million 2010.2

So how does your business become a social business?

With IBM, become social by tapping into four capabilities that — when implemented as a whole — can socially enable your workforce, improve customer care and insight, and enhance product and service innovation:

  • Reach people where they live and work — easily connect and communicate through B2C, B2B and corporate social networks
  • Engage productively — enable people to develop personal insights and collective intelligence while facilitating emergent processes
  • Discover new business insights — monitor and analyze social data, graphs and identities to identify opportunities, problems, solutions and more
  • Act on insights — integrate social capabilities to help make better decisions, optimise processes in real time as well as govern and manage risk

Social business is about more than your company having a Facebook page and a Twitter handle. It embraces and cultivates a spirit of collaboration throughout organizations — internally and externally. Today, by combining social networking tools with sophisticated analytic capabilities, companies are transforming their business processes, building stronger relationships among their employees, customers and business partners and making better decisions, faster. This is what makes a social business — to be able to Reach, Engage, Discover and Act to unlock the potential of people and create new business value and opportunities.

Conversations with Industry Innovators with Guy Kawasaki. Watch the Video.

IBM Conversations with Industry Innovators with Guy Kawasaki. Watch the Video.

Listen to lively discussions about social business with other leading thinkers in the IBM Social Business Digital Library


1. IBM. "Social business: the advent of a new age" (PDF,958KB)2011.

2. "Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration," Forrester Research, Inc., November 30, 2011.


60 Second Socials: snapshots of real social businesses at work
See more videos about people and practices in the IBM social business video library.

Red Funnel
UK ferry operator Red Funnel uses social networks to update passengers on travel status.

Newly Weds Foods
A worldwide supplier of food ingredients cooks up a competitive edge by socially connecting its operations.

Australian Bureau of Statistics
This organization inspires better work and generates greater insight by connecting its employees socially.

Novgorod University
A Russian university enables collaboration and sharing between teachers and students worldwide.

Social accessibility
IBM developers increased inclusion and collaboration by improving accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing in their social software.