Resuming from my last post - a key thing I am going to discuss is - how are these software systems, social enablers for any business [inside and outside] and for the ecosystem [landscape, environment] they exist in. A Social Business is one that embraces and cultivates a spirit of collaboration and community throughout its organization — both internally and externally.
IBM has identified three distinct characteristics of a Social Business:
- A Social Business is engaged—deeply connecting people, including customers, employees, and partners, to be involved in productive, efficient ways.
- A Social Business is transparent—removing boundaries to information, experts and assets, helping people align every action to drive business results.
- A Social Business is nimble—speeding up business with information and insight to anticipate
Essentially we have following elements to look at, to evaluate how social aspect of the business / organization can lead to innovation or improvements:
- Engaging Experience : Whether its intranet for the employees or extra-net for customers and business partners - every segment wants to have engaging experience in the form of 'Collaborating NOW' element i.e employees need online communities to drive the business objectives or goals, Partners needs them for interacting with vendors and other stakeholders in the business ... every small step towards a business decision is recorded or should be available in the form of activity streams. Ability to reproduce any business event in the form of A/V assets and share it for the the benefit of larger audience through social media such that feedback on the event , its content drives the improvement and perhaps innovation. Add to all this a mailing capability which is not a silo but aware of all such happenings and with minimal action, data flows from each of these capabilities bidirectionally - e.g a mail could become a activity for tracking purposes, a file from social media can flow into email as attachment or identities are managed via social directory inside the mail as business card. Typically in an enterprise 2.0 environment we would want solutions packaged on the common platform ... HRMS, Payroll etc for the intranet scenario OR Retail or banking solutions OOTB for the extranet / internet scenario, which provides a integrated and engaging experience as opposed to static web systems handling each one separately. Culture of collaborating 'NOW' is key ingredient for fostering innovation and unifies culturally or demographically diverse business [employee and customer base]. IBM is a very good example.
- Discover OR Expertise locator, knowledge management, collaboration - These set of capabilities or abilities help in terms of having informal processes for learning and falling back on these resources as a knowledge asset down the line - something we term as : Social Learning processes. Wikis are a good example of such a capability. Forums for dedicated discussion on key business or common interest areas within a community, Blogs : help in knowledge dissemination by SMEs and over a period of time these resources are tagged, responed, recommended and eventually some of them get established as a best practice or a innovated process for a business problem. Recommendations work well in terms of getting the most popular, most visited, best rated or something like 'adjudged top submission'. All of this data is transparently available and no parallel systems are needed to churn these sought after assets. Another aspect of discovery in a social business would be 'crowd sourcing applications' - i.e we have the capability of hosting apps that help to do a mundane task faster or efficiently - examples would be Gadgets or widgets developed and deployed by the end users. Mashups are a very good example of such a capability. In one way these kind of capabilities help in grooming or training the next level of employees, busines partner or even vendors - which indirectly leads to lesser expenses on the business orientation or awraeness related trainings.
- Optimize for faster insights : With explosion of data, information and various forms of assets .... How do we make sense out of it and yet be able to harness that knowledge - Analytics is one encompassing realm, which we can use in different ways to leverage the social benefits for a business. Running analytics on the social media to provide insight about assets shared and used help in promoting the right content. Real time monitoring or moderation allow us to manage the risks of wider availability and impact of these capabilities inside and outside the business. Workforce dashboards or analytics provide on the fly insight about a business unit, team or a community. One of the obvious benefit is the awareness about the diversity of each segment and yet be able to address each one of them effectively.
- Delivery channels OR Reach : - End users are better aligned and relate well with software systems which provide consistent user experience. whether you blog or do a chatting - if experience is similar irrespective of the channels (like desktop app to Rich Internet applications to mobile), It leads to greater productivity and throughput from the software systems as well as its users. A employee can easily switch the context from browser to a smart gadget and yet be able to take a business chat or contribute on discussion forum or ideation process while on the move. Business is not limited to fixed cycles of productivity, instead is dependent on the comfort level available to the users of these systems. These capabilities also lead to reduced capital and operational expenses by eliminating (or delay) the recurring needs of upgrading Systems [H/w, S/w]. Wide availability of these capabilities and the user experience are also important building blocks of a social business
To summarize the capabilities and the known/demonstrated benefits of these software systems to help a business become Social :
Looking at the stack I have mentioned in previous blog posts - A confluence of Online interaction through chat and conferencing capability, IBM Connections capabilities, OOTB applications like banking and retail systems, eForms for workflow scenarios, Integrated analytics framework, Enterprise/integrated search capability, in built support for smart devices and finally the most important part - Aggregation system to host all of this as one system and realm - IBM Websphere Portal.