BIZTECHBUZZ in the world of social, cognitive, IoT and startups

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Top 6 Social Business Patterns for ROI!

It’s easy to see how the world has adopted social media to help strengthen ties between people all over the world. People like to share and the explosive growth of Facebook and all the other social media platforms out there are surely a testament to the fact that we like to share and discover what our friends are up to.  (IBM is, of course, the market leader at applying social techniques to business situations. Our entire Social Business Platform is the best in the market, four years in succession, according to IDC. )

Why these 6 Patterns Matter to Your Company:
While you might see how social could apply in a business setting, and understand that somehow harnessing some of these principles might be beneficial to improving how your organization works, you might not know where to start, or how the common business processes you work with could be transformed with social business.  Or you may be looking for the top ROI yields.   Or how to embed social without the S word (yes, that’s Social that some people view Social as Play!)
It’s for these reasons that we have created the Social Business Patterns or Use Cases.

  • Identify top ROI cases
  • Showcase the value and business outcome with having to use the S word
  • Allow you to learn from others

These are a suite of example business processes common to many industries. We show how these processes can be improved using IBM’s Platform for Social Business and, most importantly, what return on investment you can expect to realize from implementing the use cases.  These are not IT solutions, however. They are examples of business processes which will be very similar to your own. Using and adapting these examples can allow you to improve the communication, collaboration, awareness, knowledge-sharing, morale and efficiency of your organisation in simple but very effective ways.

Over the coming blog posts I will look at each of these in more depth, but let me outline to you the areas IBM’s Use Cases fall into:
Finding Expertise
Being able to locate the expertise in your organization is vital in many situations. Almost any service organization relies entirely on the knowledge of its subject matter experts. Manufacturing organizations such as car manufacturers, oil & gas producers and many others need to know how to solve problems quickly and easily without re-inventing the wheel and by accessing the expertise of the right people. Travel and transportation organizations’ entire business is built on being safe and reliable. These two facets are based on them being experts in their chosen fields and making the most of their staff’s expertise.  Finding Expertise focuses on how any organization can make the most of their experts. Whether it’s finding the right person in critical situations or unlocking the tacit knowledge in the experts’ heads to build the collective expertise of the organization.

Knowledge Sharing & Innovation
Social Business solutions are at the forefront of helping organizations all over the world increase their level of innovation.  Social helps to drive the process of innovation by giving ideas and new concepts places to grow and adapt based on the collective knowledge of the participants.  Use of social demonstrates how you can create a more nimble and flexible organization with dramatic return on investment opportunities backed by real client examples.


External Customer Insights
Many organizations nowadays have a presence on social media. They now have Facebook and other popular social network accounts, some use these to great effect and are generating real new business.   You can boost your selling power by unifying your sales people and distribution chain together with the most important people to your organization – your customers.

There are a set of sub cases around the external focus:

  • Customer Service.  Since empowered customers with social tools are changing the focus of business from selling to “partnering” , engaged employees lead to…higher service, quality, and productivity, which leads to… higher customer satisfaction, which leads to… increased sales & profit.
  • Sales.   Using social to better target individuals, not just demographics and segments to better sell to your client.
  • Community Building.  Using community to target your advocates and drive loyalty into your base or to recruit and learn from a new client set is a powerful ROI case.


Recruiting and On-boarding
Your organization lives and dies by the quality of its people. Attracting and retaining the best people in the market is one sure way to make sure that you are investing for your future.  To be able to demonstrates how you can enormously increase the time-to-value of new employees, increase the retention rate of your employees and provide much faster access to experts, highlights the focus on people as an important part of your strategy.
Everyone involved in bringing new people on board, including the new recruit themselves, wants their endeavour to be a success. How do you go about ensuring that happens? More than simply “inducting” a new member of staff, how do you streamline the recruitment, assessment and hiring processes?

new hire

Mergers and Acquisitions
Did you know that between fifty and eight three percent of mergers and acquisitions fail? This is an enormous cost for everyone involved, both financially and in terms of morale of the staff and customer and stakeholder confidence.  A focus on social in acquisitions can help reduce this failure rate by improving the key business processes involved in mergers and acquisitions. It focuses on the people and the culture associated with the organizations coming together and demonstrates how employee retention, failure rate of acquisition and communication can all be improved.
Social can assist in helping your organization improve its safety record and have a huge impact on ROI for worker’s compensation and injuries.  . The social tools within our solution can help you reduce incidents, increase effectiveness for your existing safety programs and accelerate the adoption of a culture of safety amongst everyone concerned.   Many industries use simple, but effective and tested approaches to using social collaboration can improve the safety record of your organisation and its reputation.

Join Me
We’re going to explore each of these Use Cases in more depth in the coming blog posts here, so I hope you’ll join me as we deep-dive into how social business, and IBM’s Platform for Social Business in particular can help your organization.

As always, I’d really appreciate your feedback and comments!  To get more information, you can get the summary report here!

Happy Friday! What is a Social Business Anyway?

Please forgive me if you know this but I have had so many questions at SXSW on “What is a Social Business” that I jotted down my thoughts to share!!!

If you are 201, please skip but I am hoping this is helpful to a lot of you!!

1. What is social business?
A major change is taking place in social media these days: leading-edge companies are moving from “liking” to leading.

Social media has become an extension of traditional paid media with many companies broadcasting messages, from traditional to innovative. The next step will be much deeper as the leaders recognize that social engagement is an opportunity to redefine the client service experience, be proactive in delivering customer care and differentiate in new ways.

We call this social business. And just as social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest changed the flow of information by helping people share insights, opinions, and news with anyone anywhere, social business is changing the way people connect with companies and inside of them and how organizations succeed.

What is a social business? It’s an organization that integrates social technologies with critical business processes to improve the productivity of its workforce and create exceptional customer service.

Forrester Research estimates the market opportunity for social software is expected to rise 60% annually from 2010.

2. How is social business different from social media?
Organizations have quickly learned that a Social Business isn’t a company that just has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. A Social Business means that every department in the organization has embedded social capabilities into their traditional business processes to fundamentally impact how work gets done to create business value. A Social Business utilizes social software technology to communicate with its rich ecosystem of clients, business partners and employees.

Three shifts are creating an opportunity for social technology to create real business value

  • Pressure to build and share expertise for competitive advantage
  • Increasingly influential and vocal customers
  • Growing demand for 24/7 and mobile connectedness

Leaders in every industry are leveraging Social Business technology to disrupt their industries and create competitive advantage. They are improving productivity and unleashing innovation by tapping into the collective intelligence inside and outside their organizations. With social, they’re creating a smarter workforce.

3. What are the benefits of becoming a social business?
In a social business, employees are smarter, more loyal, and engaged because their organization uses social networks, collaboration systems and shared messaging services.

A “social” approach enables employees around the world to tap into each other’s expertise and connections. Companies can attract top talent and give employees the social tools they need to work together. Executives can layer analytics on top of social technologies to make sure their companies have the right skills and expertise to meet market demands.

A social business is also one where customer service is exceptional because the company reaches out to customers through social networks, Twitter and blogs in innovative ways and acts on the insights it pulls together about consumers. That way, customer service teams have the insights and the analytics they need to predict and resolve problems before they happen. Companies can dish up more targeted offers to customers and respond more quickly to their problems. R&D can gain new sources of inspirations and insight from customers and employees so that the products customers want are the ones that get to market.

4. Example of social business transformations.
Teach for America: Teach For America, a nonprofit organization that works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty, is using IBM’s social business platform to help bridge the gap in educational inequality for 600,000 students nationwide. Teach For America’s 40,000 teachers, alumni and employees are accessing a digital network built on IBM’s industry leading social
networking platform to share best practices and innovative teaching techniques in the classroom, across school districts, and state borders. Teach For America’s digital portal, TFANet, allows incoming and current teachers, alumni and staff to connect and share knowledge, resources and guidance to help deepen their impact as educational leaders. All 40,000 corps members, alumni and staff have access to discussion forums, blogs, wikis, videos, and user profiles to exchange information and insight across the organization’s 46 regions. IBM social networking technology has allowed Teach For America to build a network and digital experience for its teachers and alumni that includes a resource exchange with over 30,000 user-generated classroom materials focused on classroom management plans and worksheets, lesson plans, and new teaching techniques to help increase efficiency and learning in classrooms across the country. Members can access more than 600 content-specific communities, nearly 20 blogs, and 500 video clips and virtual classroom visits, providing Teach For America members with vital advice and insight from their colleagues to help advance their performance in the classroom.

LeasePlan: LeasePlan, one of the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management companies in the world, is using IBM Connections across the multi-national company of over 40 subsidiaries, in 30 countries and over 6,000 employees. LeasePlan is using IBM Connections for knowledge retention, optimizing workflow, increasing innovation, and transforming business processes. Nearly 800 communities have been formed, 400 blogs, and over 800 forums are all helping the organization decrease the amount of emails sent and received, helping the workforce easily find expertise and saving employees valuable time. Wim de Gier, LeasePlan’s Senior Global Project Manager Corporate Strategy & Development says, “LinkedPeople makes it easy to find people with specific expertise. Employees create personal profiles that include information such as their background, expertise, and links to articles or papers they have written. By searching tags, users can locate specific information and find colleagues suited to answer particular questions. Users can also find questions relating to their expertise that they can answer.”

Electrolux:  Electrolux is powered through the innovations of its employees to create products that consumers need.  Because of this, the ability for employees to access content and collaborate on the fly is crucial. Using IBM enterprise social networking software, Electrolux employees can now easily find experts and gain valuable insight from information and data. They are engaging in over 1,000 collaboration spaces, including 100 information portals managed by more than 450 editors and visited by employees 15,000 times a month and 9,000 times a day.

CEMEX:  Speeding innovation and time to market
CEMEX is the third largest building materials company in the world, with employees in 50 countries. To meet business challenges, it had to bring its global community closer together, so it created a social network initiative, called Shift, for open collaboration across its entire workforce. Within a year, over 20,000 employees were engaged, over 500 communities had formed, nine global innovation initiatives were underway — and ideas started flowing around the world among specialists in all areas and levels of the company. Wikis, blogs and communities became links between operating units around the world, and the collaboration among employees led to impressive results — for instance, the launch in under four months of the first global brand of CEMEX’s Ready Mix special product. If the same level of collaboration now enabled by Shift were conducted today through traditional meetings by phone and travel, CEMEX would be spending an additional US$0.5 to US$1 million per year.

Coach — Crowd Sourcing with Social Media – Know of anyother great examples?

The Coach team crowd sourced its product development of a Tote while holding onto to their brand.  I heard from Vanessa Flaherty, Jamie Dicken, and Stephanie Rohlfs on Coach at BlogHer!



A Simple, crowd sourced campaign.

Coach wanted to reach a new and younger market. They wanted to engage the younger generation in a new way. They wanted the consumer to put their DNA onto the next bag. They launch a “design the next Coach tote” contest. It was a completely viral campaign. They received 3200 entries in less than 6 weeks.

People were spending the whole night on designing bags. They replaced focus groups with the natural language. They were about the distribution not the destination. They wanted everyone to use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. It traveled across 8000 URLs in 6 weeks.

BrickFish’s Viral Map:

Key bloggers wrote about the contest. There were over 30 blogs that constantly commented on it . The image was that Coach Cared about what their clients wanted. Brickfish Tracked a viral map of each entry and where all the interactions happened with the brand.

They generated over 6M customer images over 6 weeks! On average people spent 7 minutes on the site and each person influenced over 1,729 people with the viralness of the campaign.

Coach was brave in the way they allowed people interacted with the brand. They ended up on the front page of Google.

They sold out this bag in all stores (small runs!) and the designer’s name is inside the bag itself!

Is this long lasting?

Is this novelty or long lasting? I think that people like to co create. We are now in the Generation C world. Generation C is different than the baby boomers, and gen x. Generation C wants to co create, collaborate, etc. I think this will become more important important in fact, perhaps being the primary form of product development.Others doing this?

Do you know of other co creation case studies?

  • IBM with development of its WebSphere sMash product.
  • NFL football on their advertising.
  • aDiasas on their viral campaign with University students
  • WD40 on their work on a product for women.

Check it out here!