Is Changing Company Culture the Biggest Hurdle for Social Business? #ibmconnect

3 minute read
Anthony Myers avatar

Forty six percent of companies increased their investments in social business in 2012, while 62% said they would do so in the next three years an IBM report has found.

Most companies are spending the bulk of that investment in marketing, but the areas expected to grow the fastest are in customer service and sales.

Culture Shock

Almost 75% of respondents in the IBM Business of Social Business report said their companies were under prepared for the needed cultural changes in adopting social business. IBM surveyed over 1,100 businesses and interviewed more than two dozen executive leaders in social business in the report, and the results seem to show just about everyone out there has officially accepted the idea of social business. They just sort of can't believe it.

On the one hand, most companies see how invested their customers are in social, and on the other, they seem to be worried about transparency issues and other unforeseen consequences of adopting a broad social layer. For example, 60% of respondents said they used social to answer customer inquiries and 78% are planning to do so in the next two years. Fifty-five percent are actively asking for customer reviews and opinions via social, and 79% plan to do so in the next two years.

With so many companies using LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook at the platform level, and welcoming customers on their own community websites, companies need to adjust to some new processes to be successful in this area the report found. Companies need a governance process to run the community, and they need a consistent way to recruit and train moderators. Additionally, businesses need to develop a critical mass of early adopters to seed influence and spread the word.


The most experienced social businesses are ramping up their sales and support teams over the next two years.

Learning Opportunities

Core Practices Shifting + How to Embed Social

Besides moving to improve sales and service via social, the businesses surveyed were also focused on:

  • Driving workforce productivity and effectiveness
  • Increasing transparency and visibility of knowledge
  • Finding and building expertise
  • Outside collaboration
  • Sourcing new ideas
  • Using Internal communities to innovate
  • Enabling structured innovation efforts

In order to massage social into every facet of an organization, companies need to understand and manage the risks, and the change needed to take place itself needs to be managed. In other words, social business is a little different than other workplace changes we've seen over the years, and culture plays a big part in helping or holding it back.

A big part of that is the lack of definite KPIs. Only 20% of company's surveyed had identified the metrics they needed to define an ROI on social. After that, the risk involved with social needs to be addressed, and that means HR, legal, IT, communications, finance and risk department experts need to be engaged to help build up the management strategy here.

Forty eight percent of those surveyed said they had executive level support, but only 22% said they believed managers were prepared to fold social into their daily workflow. It's time for business leaders to support and motivate their teams so social can be integrated in a less painful way. Focusing on the customer is a good place to start. It's helpful to think about those workflow changes in that context. Not only that, but it presents a new way to spark innovation in a company, and that should be welcomed in any culture.

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