So many business executives inadequately equate the concept of social business transformation with the use of social media. Social collaboration is not just about social media, tools, lean processes and management methodologies. Social collaboration is a mindset that leverages culture, people, process and lastly technology to unlock the full potential of the organization.
It may be surprising to you that I list technology as the least significant element for a successful social business transformation, but I strongly believe that it's not the tools or usage that matter; it's the social ethos of your business.
Prior to developing social media and technological know-how, you also need to adopt transparency in your business, position key people into place, establish a vibrant culture, implement streamlined lean processes, flatten reporting structures, and focus on delighting customers at the speed of need.
Social is a mindset. The social mindset's ultimate goals are business agility and customer delight. To stay relevant, business leaders must learn strategies, techniques and social collaboration methodologies relevant to the modern day enterprise -- they must figure out how to discover stakeholder value, and provide bottom-line business results.
The social mindset does not lead with technology because delighting customers is not a technology thing -- it's a people thing.
Customer Driven Collaboration
At our company we often use the words collaboration and social interchangeably. Social is not just about social media; we like to think of social as collaboration that is driven by a purpose. For us, the purpose is that there's nothing more important than our customers. We figured out very early on that if you can't deliver excellence to your internal customers, you will be unable to deliver excellence to your external customers.
For example: your sales organization is a customer to your service organization, your engineering organization is a customer to your sales organization, and your marketing organization is a customer to your sales operation.
A modern enterprise must have different lines of business working collaboratively under one roof. Thus it is important to creating a transparent, collaborative ecosystem, which knows and appreciates the fact that no one of us is as smart as all of us.
Social business leaders view various disciplines and functions in a collaborative organization not as departments, but rather integrated processes. In a social business, customer service and support is not viewed as a department, but rather as a process where every stakeholder -- meaning every employee -- is empowered to delight the customer.
When all of your internal departments respect each other and strive to win together, you are on the right track. You can fail alone, but in order to win, you need to work together. It is the collaborative bond, united by the common purpose of delighting customers, which fuels company success.
The pursuit of social business excellence is the pursuit of effective mass collaboration. Successful large-scale collaboration consists of delivering quality content and context, in a timely and compelling manner, to customers, partners and employees. When you are able to communicate with authenticity and scale -- extending the voice of your employees within the company-wide ecosystem, inside and outside of your business -- then you have achieved social business excellence.
Aligning Tools with People and Goals
In business, we are all aware and respectful of the external customer who is paying for the services or goods. But some companies can lose sight of their internal customers, who are just as important.
An awareness of and respect for internal customers is crucial in order to have a business that works properly; and a business that works properly has layers of accountability, openness, cross-functional cooperation and constructive change. When we treat our internal customers like external customers, we start to gain these qualities, and break down barriers.
In a social business, employee communication must be fast, efficient and personal. For this reason, traditional business communication mediums such as corporate intranets, email, instant messaging and faxing are being augmented or replaced with social collaboration tools.
Today, the most efficient companies use internal and external social media tools to expand their reach, bolster their execution and promote transparency through the entire company. Transparency in business is authentic, clear and frequent communication of our beliefs and intentions with respect to desired direction and destination.
No longer does a traditional hierarchical model or a "need to know basis" mentality work for a modern company. Utilizing mass communication within your business is the singular key to your business' success.
Social business transformation starts with culture. You must have a purpose that's meaningful and relevant to your market, customers and employees. In business, and life, every person has three choices -- lead, follow or get out of the way.
If you want your employees to lead and follow, you have to clearly articulate a direction and destination that's meaningful to them. As humans, we feel a need to contribute. Nobody gets up in the morning and says I can't wait to be mediocre today. Everybody comes to work hoping that they can move the needle. Some do, and some don't. Culture is ultimately what happens when the manager leaves the room. For a business to thrive and stay vibrant, management must tell employees and customers where they're going, and why.
A social business is still a business; a business that has a laser-sharp focus on revenue, profit, market share and all the other key traditional factors related to business success. A social business leverages the genius of the crowd in order to achieve its success.
The best advice I can give you as you embark on adopting a social mindset is not to do social, but rather to be social. Being social consists of a set of attributes that helps people connect and build relationships. I use an acronym S.O.C.I.A.L. to help remind me of these attributes -- Sincere. Open. Collaborative. Interested. Authentic. Likeable.