Walking the talk: do we really understand social business?

business ipads

business ipads

I recently attended the Social Business Africa 2013 conference put together by communications agency Cerebra, social business platform WyseTalk and banking giant Nedbank. While I was sitting there being bombarded by knowledge from these social business professionals, a few thoughts struck me.

To attempt to do justice to the content that was displayed at the conference in a single post would do exactly the opposite, so instead of giving you a lengthy play-by-play of the day I thought this article would be better spent by unpacking two of the key messages and trying to understand what they mean.

Message 1: It is not all about social
This seems like a thinly veiled oxymoron, but in fact the truth about social business is that it is a legitimate business decision enhancing tool. You see, the social media element of social business is just that — an element.

Social business is about taking the principles of social media marketing / networking and applying them within your business. A large portion of this will be externally facing in the form of marketing campaigns, but a great deal of social business happens internally behind the firewall.

Unlocking enterprise social networks is where social business comes alive, by enabling your employees to collaborate and share knowledge in a way which does not restrict them to overloading each other’s email accounts.

There are effectively four different pillars to social business that need to be understood. Not each pillar needs to be in place to be considered a true social business, but they are all a part of the journey.

  • The use of social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
  • The use of enterprise social media networks (similar to intranets)
  • Social enterprise software (like WyseTalk)
  • Data driven marketing

In my mind arguably the most important of these four pillars is the final one as this is what ties everything together. Not analyzing and deriving value from your social data can be likened to sleeping with a German dictionary under your pillow in the hopes of learning the language!

The insights that you can glean from here — both internally and externally — are what drive your social business strategy forward!

Message 2 : It’s not about software
While founder and CEO of WyseTalk Gys Kappers was on-hand to talk through the South African-produced Yammer counterpart, he laboured in his presentation on the point that the technology, the platform, the software were merely enablers for social business and that they did not a social business make.

Again the theory and practice of social business is in the inculcation of social conventions into a business setting; this means that the social processes need to be evident and planned for before a piece of software can be dropped in to streamline and manage the conversations.

The social business evolution (yes, evolution – not revolution) is something that is inevitable. With the pervasive nature of technology through cloud computing, mobile computing and the analysis of big data we are plugged in all the time.

We are social by nature and by aligning that social construct with the objectives and values of your organization (and vice versa) is where unbelievable collaboration, knowledge sharing and problem solving truly come alive!



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