A social business platform, incorporating the latest and greatest social business software can be many things to many organisations, but can it be many things to just one organisation?
The answer depends on what is deemed important. For example would a social business framework that embodies conversations about business issues be sufficient justification to prove its value to the organisation? Or are there some contextual relationships with business processes and other business software that make it more worthwhile.
The above image serves to illustrate that there are many potential use cases for social business software, some providing personal benefits and some, business benefits. The image also suggests that social business can and must be able to cater for any business structure, as we all know that businesses by definition are multi-disciplined, in that they have business functions and business processes. For example business functions like knowledge creation, quality control, human resources, innovation, ideation support business processes like Sales, manufacturing, customer service, etc.
From this I think we can deduce that if a social business framework, in the form of an on-line software community cannot support multi-dimensional business operations then it probably won’t be the toolset that works optimally, or that justifies the investment that will be required to move to a corporate culture that supports a broad based collaborative approach.
Looking deeper into using social business software as an adjunct to business processes we can discuss why it may be the icing on the cake. Customer relationships have been documented via CRM systems for some time, yet have largely failed to embody the essence of the relationship, other than to phrase it in the form of where it sits on the opportunity pipeline. This really is an indictment of the use of these systems, as the real personality of a customer can only be known through the personal interactions of the people involved.
Integrating social into the CRM process allows for conversations to be captured. Not just salesperson to customer conversations, but all conversations that contribute to the end goal of making the customer experience better. A question here, a clarification there, knowledge gained as a result of expertise being found in the company, from the other side of the country or the globe. Importantly though is the fact that these conversations do not take place in isolation, they are closely integrated with the sales process, helping to put some real definition around why customers are engaging with us and prepared to invest in our solutions.
Similarly, internal projects can be targeted, particularly where the project team involves employees geographically remote from each other and/or customers. Using a social network to hold meeting outcomes as well as ad-hoc conversations is a great source of knowledge that can be utilised during and after the project has finished. From a project management perspective it can add value as a “lessons learned” knowledge base.
Social business is a way of working, not a new piece of software to be used and eventually grown tired of. Embrace it by doing your homework on your business processes and then identifying how using social can improve the performance of your team.