Social Business in 2013: A Challenge, An Opportunity, A Commitment

6 minute read
Luis Suarez avatar

As we approach the end of 2012, it's that time of the year where predictions kick in for the new year ahead of us, especially in the field of Social Business, hoping to set the stage of what's to come in the following months. But when reflecting on what we may have achieved in 2012, I decided to take a different approach: I am focusing on a challenge, an opportunity and a commitment for social networking in 2013 so we can finally realize the business transformation we've been waiting for and anticipating all along.

Social Business in 2013 -- A Challenge

For a good number of years we have witnessed plenty of businesses insisting on blocking the use of social networking tools within the firewall, hoping to stop the use of these social technologies in order to prevent wasted time while at work. This has now essentially backfired, as we have all seen the use of social media tools increasing more and more over time. Erik Qualman recently showed this in the next take of Social Media 2013 video clips.

On its own, this presents a good challenge for Social Business, because as fewer and fewer businesses block social networking tools, knowledge workers have increased their exposure and extended use of social tools in their personal lives, but not in relation to their work. And they would like to keep it this way.

If you take a look into rather revealing elements like Twitter's Trending Topics, Facebook and LinkedIn's timelines, or Trending in Google Plus, you will see how we do have a rather interesting challenge for 2013 where businesses will need to focus not on driving the internal and external adoption of social software, but on strongly convincing their own knowledge workers that social technologies can be used as well as business tools. Right now, we are starting to see how workers remain unconvinced, while being incredibly active on social media from a personal, private perspective.

Social Business in 2013 - An Opportunity

The opportunity for Social Business in 2013 and beyond is going to start with a challenge. A business problem. Actually, the biggest problem the corporate world has faced in decades, which despite the rampant use of social networking tools, we still haven't been able to solve accordingly: employee engagement.

Recent research studies from Deloitte have confirmed how over 70 percent of our employee workforce is disengaged or totally disengaged at work. This is while we have witnessed and experienced the rampant adoption of social networking tools behind the firewall.

How can that be that the surge of social technologies has taken the business world by storm, yet seven out of 10 employees are totally disengaged with their day to day work? The answer is rather simple. We have been missing a huge opportunity in the wider adoption of Social Business within the enterprise.

We have seen where social technologies have been rather successful in communications, marketing, sales, learning, retail, consultancy, research, knowledge sharing, collaboration, customer service and so forth. Yet there is one group that has not been affected by this rampant adoption of social networking tools for business, and which could very well be the main reason why knowledge workers are not engaged at work.

Without this group being involved, we are not really provoking the (social) business transformation we would have wanted or hoped for. I am talking about HR and their new transformation from being Human Resources to becoming Human Relationships.

That's the huge opportunity for Social Business in 2013 and beyond. Help address employee disengagement across the board by having HR drive, right at the center, the transformation of how business gets done through Social.

There are plenty of implications here, but one that's going to become key is the one around Talent Management, especially, when your employees are disengaged, finding that new opportunity to be rewarded, recognized and motivated and more, thanks to the meaningful, purposeful, engaging work they may have eventually landed in.

Learning Opportunities

This is the chance for HR to demonstrate that Social Business has never been about having the coolest tools, or the most impressive working business processes. This is going to be the final opportunity for HR to be back at the forefront of facilitating something we have been missing for decades: employees owning their work, taking more responsibility, making the right decisions, earning their merits and (digital) reputation, to eventually become recognized for what they do best -- their job(s).

Social Business in 2013 - A Commitment

And finally, here we are with the commitment. In the quest for most brands to become more open, trustworthy, honest, transparent, interconnected, smarter and authentic, in other words, more engaging with their own customers AND employees, provide better quality service, better products, better customer service, and so forth, in 2013 we are going to see how vendors (and not just for Social Businesses, but everyone who may well be in Sales) are going to make that giant leap of faith and start walking the talk more often.

In the world of Social, 2013 is going to accelerate the transformation of vendors talking one thing and doing a completely different other. It's no longer going to work that way. Rather the opposite. Businesses, mainly through learning by doing, will be called upon by their customers and especially their very own employees, on the main reasons why they are not walking the talk. Why they are not provoking their own business transformation through social networking when they may well be big advocates themselves of the change?

We are going to witness how trust is going to become more critical than ever, not from the perspective of how you can gain my / our / their trust, but more how you can keep it alive and kicking every single day of the year by starting to put your actions behind your words. Because if you don't manage to make that happen in an effective and engaging manner, I suspect both customers AND employees will move on.

Brands and businesses will be striving for authenticity, for uniqueness, for what makes them special, against everyone else. Customers and employees will be striving to belong to those brands and businesses whose commitment is one of wanting to transform themselves into the next generation of how we get work done in the 21st century: sustainable growth.

Exciting times are ahead for us all in 2013 and beyond, especially in Social Business. Exciting times to tackle our biggest unprecedented challenge yet. Our most profound business problem finally turning itself into a huge business opportunity by putting your actions behind your words. Our Commitment.

Editor's Note: Luis is all about rolling up your sleeves and getting the work done. To read more of his thoughts, check out Social Task Management - When Social Business Got Down to Work 

About the author

Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez is a business developer, Digital Transformation and Data Analytics doer at panagenda. A well-seasoned social| open business strategist and 2.0 practitioner with over 23 years of working experience on knowledge management, collaboration, learning, online communities and social networking for business, Luis currently focuses on helping organizations make the most out of their own change management initiatives and digital transformation programs (including social business) by making sense of their own data analytics visualizations.