Bringing Social Business Inside the Enterprise: What we have learned (so far)

by Tom Reeder

We recently presented our point of view on how to align and organize for the opportunities and challenges facing companies as they implement digital marketing in this dawning day of everywhere commerce.  Most of the 300 participants at the iCitizen Symposium hosted by Resource Interactive are entirely absorbed with the customer touchpoints becoming more available to manufacturers and retailers through digital means, including social business outside the enterprise.  Like most improvement efforts today, the pace and complexity of change requires higher participation and higher ownership throughout the organization– something only achievable through a different approach.  We believe you need to bring social business inside the enterprise to be successful as we move into the new reality we all face.

Based on our work with a number of clients over the last several years, we have learned a few critical lessons– so far.

  • Deliver on two fronts (business outcome and social capability)
  • Build the “new way” into the approach
  • Blend traditional, proven tools and methods with emerging collaborative approaches
  • Adoption of a social enabling technology is critical

Deliver on two fronts

Business leaders must show a return on investment.  We face this value litmus test as often as every meeting of an engagement.  As you consider the value of increased collaboration, sharing, access to information, transparency and flexibility, benefits social business can bring, lead with a specific business outcome for your social business pilots.

With each improvement effort, build social business capability by, for example, seeding capability in initiative participants.  The benefits and skills of well executed efforts can be carried back into the organization for viral distribution.

Build the new way into the approach

You must make a commitment to the new socially-enabled approach, the new “normal.”  For example, get everyone on an engagement to capture their work product, revisions, etc., to a SharePoint site created for the team– where not only an expanded set of participants can access and update materials, but the sponsor can use the site to review and comment on work in progress.  Having a parallel effort, even if all the “extra” work is accomplished by analysts, will not work.

Blend traditional, proven tools and methods with emerging collaborative approaches

The enterprise is a large eco-system, and we are proposing new expectations for all levels of leadership, management and staff.  Take an evolutionary approach to change.  Find out which parts of social business fit your culture best now, and which may take more time to introduce to help bend the culture.  All improvement is based on behavioral change of individuals and not all individuals make all changes at the same pace.

Adoption of a social enabling technology is critical

In order to aid the social needs of search, ask, and share, you need to adopt a social platform.  We have worked with a number of these social environments, and for proof of concept it is not important which one– just that you support your initial team of evangelists.  We have stood up instances of technology inside and outside the enterprise in days and added social business value and understanding while accomplishing business outcomes.  Don’t get hung up on the best solution when getting started, just get started with a social business enabling system.

These initial lessons learned, based on reflection of our hard knocks, will help you begin adopting social business in your organization.  Get started!  Your competition may have already begun.

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