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Social Business Challenges Transforming Companies....Slowly

During our inaugural public CMSWire Google+ Hangout session in December, we chatted with experts on how social business is challenging for large companies to implement, but also how it as been successful in limited cases.

CMSWire columnists Deb Lavoy, Rich Blank and Stephen Fishman shared their thoughts on how social business is transforming the workplace, why the social term itself may be holding us back, and why people matter more than technology.

Our Culture was Social Before it Was Cool

We aren't dismissing those companies who have struggled with developing a fuller social business strategy, but our discussions often focuse on company culture as a real barrier. People are simply resistant to change, Rich Blank, a solutions engineer at NewsGator Technology said. It's good to talk about why wikis and blogging are good, Blank said, but getting through to people to the point where they actually do it is a widespread problem.

In the enterprise, many companies are totally open to advancing their social business strategies, he said. It's just that these large companies take time to change, and they often need to see the quantifiable data that tells them a social business implementation makes sense. Another major pain point.

"It's less about social, and more about being connected," Deb Lavoy, director of product marketing for social media at OpenText said.

That's why company culture is so important. Companies that have business leaders working closely with IT are the ones who seem to be the most successful at integrating social. Nothing to it, right? Get the CEO on board with social, and it will happen. CEO's, however, are more often concerned with more specific business duties, and that is where the term social may be getting in the way.

Executives usually care about things like on boarding, gathering feedback and enabling finding experts within the organization, for example, Blank said. In those cases, vocabulary does matter, Lavoy said, and it's helpful to unpack terms like social and collaboration. It varies depending on what problems a company is trying to solve, and in the customer service and social marketing sectors, social has indeed been successful, Lavoy pointed out.

That helps prove the social case, but so far, it's simply not living up to its promise.

Technology Driven by Social Goals?

It's nobody's fault that we haven't seen wider adoption of social business tools, it's just that we haven't really figured out a way to enable technology to amplify our natural human ability to think and feel, Lavoy said. So far, the best use cases for social haven't been able to translate across entire companies, and it's almost less about social than it is about collaboration.

In other words, just because the technology is built, doesn't mean people will use it. That's largely driven by fear, Lavoy said. In large command and control type organizations, people tend to only want to talk about good things, and the ideas that have the most support. Something like social is hard to do. It's messy. It's one of those things that if it doesn't work, it must be somebody's fault, and that's exactly the wrong approach, Lavoy said.

That kind of fear based outlook has to be taken off the table, she said, and when that happens, more productive work can be done. When executives and CEO's start taking the lead on social, or really any project, things start to click. It can often come down to that kind of executive style, but it's often simply about removing the doubt and fear many have of taking on the sometimes nebulous challenge of social business.

Check out the entire Hangout session, and tell us in the comments about any great (or miserable) social business challenges you've met.
 

Editor's Note: This was our first Google Hangout and it turned out pretty great. Join us February 20th for our second Google Hangout (our first official hangout) as we discuss creating better web experiences with marketing automation.

 
 
 
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