Social Business The Next Big Thing is Already Inside IBMConnect

The smart business of today (and tomorrow) will use technology to make better decisions by leveraging the cloud, big data analytics, mobile and social.

As these four forces converge, businesses will be empowered to scale one-to-one, personalized experiences both inside and outside the walls of the company, hire the right people, capture knowledge across the organization and innovate quicker. These are the central themes emerging at IBM Connect 2014.

But I want to discuss another topic that (thankfully) has been given visibility, prominence and significance at this conference. Today, let’s look at the massive role that the employee plays in the development of a social business. But first ...

A Social Business Enabled By Tools

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Much of the talk at this conference has centered around the role of social tools in recruiting, sourcing top talent (both internally and externally) and creating a learning organization. This should come as no surprise, after all: IBM makes software (and to some extent hardware) solutions for companies. IBM has showcased some truly remarkable tools that one its own can provide the all-in-one technology solution to enable a social business to thrive. Beyond that IBM has positioned the products to coexist with the technologies that companies are already using.

But while having the right tools is crucial, many organizations are still making the mistake of focusing TOO much on the tools, when in fact tools are just one component of social business transformation.

Thankfully, there is a chorus of voices on stage and in the audience advocating for strong policies, processes, and gradual culture shifts to encourage adoption.

The best technology in the world cannot provide a solution if people are unwilling to embrace it. Therefore, culture, people and process are equally essential to creating a functional social business. If we look at the best-case scenario and consider the business that “gets it,” we can really get into some of the amazing opportunities that the shift toward social business can enable.

The Right People May Already Be Here

Imagine the possibility of leveraging behavioral data, social scoring and internal influence to make hiring decisions inside of an organization.

Think for a moment about the HR director that can tap into this repository of data to find the single most influential contributor on a particular topic. Imagine software that allows HR departments to capture expertise and enable sharing across the organization to increase speed and retain top ideas. Consider the impact of employee acquisition and retention when behavioral analytics can help to define the right fit for YOUR company — and enable it to make more targeted hiring and compensation decisions.

Let’s make it more concrete; imagine hospitals across the country (or world) that  provide training and resources to help save lives, and then consider what happens when that repository of knowledge is searchable and accessible from mobile and desktop devices with access to the subject matter expert in real time, all from a single platform. This is the technology that can save lives, increase revenue and spur innovation. Are you not entertained?

With the right technology, process, policy and governance and strategy, employees can contribute to a company-wide activity feed building their own reputation in the company while maintaining the safety of sensitive information. Employees can get recognition and acknowledgment from their peers and managers. They can become recognized as topic authorities. Management can poll employees, crowdsource ideas, flatten the organization and encourage collaboration.

But this can only happen in organizations that have installed technologies that allow communication to reach the entire company, rather than just those on a single email thread, and that have designed a culture around openness and sharing. This can be a challenge for many older organizations with an established status quo.

It’s About Time

It’s about time we started talking more about our employees and how they contribute beyond JUST the bottom line.

Let’s get the conversation going for making a significant investment in technology, policies, and processes designed to empower the workforce and drive business value across the enterprise.

I want to see more businesses step up and put it all on the line by trusting their people and building social businesses that impact the world. Can we do that yet? I’m ready. 

Title image by Keepsmiling4u (Shutterstock).