Last week Scott Hebner, VP of Social Business Solutions at IBM, came in to facilitate a discussion with TheCR Network members about trends for social business in 2014. Here is a guest post from Scott on the subject.
Social Business in 2014 – An Entirely New Way to Work
Social has transformed the world — evolving from a medium of personal interaction to an indispensable tool for business engagement. The journey into the world of social business is a multifaceted one, and in order to succeed businesses will need to think differently. It’s going to happen regardless, given the changes in the marketplace, and businesses that prioritize becoming a social business from the top of the business will be those that best harness the new age of digital, socialized marketplaces.
2013 was an exciting year for social business, but what will 2014 have in store when it comes to the way enterprises capitalize on social to connect, empower and energize the people who collectively determine the success of the business? Here are a few of my predictions for how social business will make an impact in 2014.
1. Social business is not just about collaboration, its about creating new “production lines” of actionable knowledge Social is no longer just about collaboration. Social today is enabling businesses to break down organizational and hierarchal silos and barriers – providing employees an opportunity to share knowledge and locate expertise. In 2014, we’ll see social transform into an organization’s enablement and learning platform, social learning, that is able to offer the ability to share knowledge and expertise through real-time videos and interactive social capabilities. Social’s new role will be helping to build a smarter enterprise. A recent study has shown that a small improvements in workforce engagement can drive significant improvement in outcomes – just a 1% gain in engagement level can drive up to 800% improvement in ROI. The most effective employees and business leaders are now working differently, by leveraging the newly amplified ability to engage, share knowledge and manage relationships. The new way to work is not an “if”, it’s a matter of “when.” Employees expect the change as will your business partners and clients.
2. Social is producing a new human face to data, improving decision making by mining behavioral data
In the past, business has relied on instrumented data – machine generated data – to help drive decision making. With the influx of social and the massive amount of information on these channels, social is now the number one use of the internet, with more than two billion social connections and more than five billion expressions per day. Buried within all of these interactions is unique behavioral data that is allowing organizations to analyze sentiment, listen and learn from the experiences and behaviors of their customers and employees like never before. With this information we can understand how, why, who, and what of our employees and consumers. This is a unique and groundbreaking capability, and mining social behavioral analytics will enable businesses to build resilient and secure social business fabrics that collectively deliver value for both consumers and employees alike. In 2014, social behavioral data will be king.
3. Fuel innovations that really matter through highly transparent, customer activated social enterprises
Becoming a social business inherently means becoming a more integrated business. A major imperative for business leaders to put in place is to open up to customer influence, pioneering social and digital innovation and totally reinventing the customer experience to become more seamless and compelling. With new abilities to harvest and harness activity and sentiment, coupled with integrated front and back office processes, businesses can now deliver highly personalized, seamless experiences for customers. IBM’s recent C-Suite study reveals that 70 percent of C-suite recognize the importance of shifting to new models of social and digital interaction to reach customers and new markets. The emergence of a new type of consumer behavior and a new way to work are highly related; and in 2014, we’ll see that the highest performing businesses are those that create a bridge between the workplace and marketplace and begin to think and act differently in the context of social.
4. Rise of the individual and the notion of “marketing as a service”
Up until this point in time, social networking has been seen as a marketing machine for most organizations, providing the ability to build armies of advocates for your brand. As we move into the next phase of social, there will be a greater emphasis on quality vs quantity. Marketers will be less focused on the number of likes they’re generating; instead concentrating on the quality of things such as Likes and Twitter followers and who the people are engaging with your brand. Social, driven by the new behavioral data, will allow organizations to capitalize on this trend and individualize consumers. Looking at customers as individuals instead of segments, marketers will now be able to deliver personalized experiences customized to individual or community needs. Social will transform marketing from a function to a service and consumers will reap the benefits.
5. Social business takes on human resources and talent management
Similar to how marketers will personalize consumers’ experiences, human resource departments will also begin to capitalize on the power of social. In a world where employees move from job to job at a rapid pace, when it comes to human capital, loyalty trumps everything. By integrating social into Human Capital Management systems, organizations will not only be able to deepen loyalty and engagement with employees – in 2014, they’ll begin tapping social and behavioral data to better understand what is important to employees, what motivates them, why they stay with an organization and much more. Say good-bye to the traditional HR survey and embrace a new set of social behavioral assets to retain and nurture talent and build your elite workforce.
6. The true convergence of Social, Mobile, Analytics and the Cloud
This year will bring the true convergence of social business, big data, the mobile workforce, and cloud computing as ‘business as usual.’ Bringing together all these enterprise technologies in a highly dynamic, ever-changing environment like a social business will require a well architected solution. Therefore, organizations will want a highly integrated, holistic platform that is based on SMAC – social, mobile, analytics and cloud. This social business platform will serve as the universal foundation for how an enterprise works and engages in the marketplace. This also means the platform must be intelligent and accessible anywhere, anytime in order to securely connect, empower and energize the workforce while enabling self-service. Equally important is the ability to harvest data of all types and origins, as that is what fuels the personalized experiences that are so critical.
The time to act is NOW. Businesses and institutions around the globe have already begun the journey. It’s a transformative moment for business, and making the transformation into a social business will play a decisive role in determining the successful businesses of the future.
Scott Hebner has over two decades in enterprise software market development, product management, and marketing, across a broad range of technology segments. Since July 2013 he has been the vice president of Social Business Solutions at IBM, which helps clients improve work force productivity, deliver exceptional client experiences and achieve community-inspired business innovation. Prior to that, Scott served as vice president of marketing and channel management for the last 12 years for IBM’s Cloud & Smarter Infrastructure, Tivoli, Rational, Websphere, and related solutions.
Do you agree? What trends do you see in store for social business in 2014?