What’s In a Social Business Strategy?
There’s a lot of talk about social this and social that these days. That’s good. The more we talk about it, the closer we get to a common language and a common framework for understanding what this is all about.
I’d like to propose a framework for Social Business. This isn’t rocket science. My interest is in drawing some of the many ideas we are discussion together into a language that is useful to my business colleagues. This framework came from discussions with my colleague Dr. Jim McGee, and was somewhat inspired by the Dachis Group’s posting of their vision for Social Business Design last summer.
Social Business is the business model that brings together the tools, the people, the processes and the structures we see emerging with the proliferation of Web2.0.
Building a Social Business Strategy means bringing together all of the business and technical components into one cohesive plan. It’s the vision for how the enterprise will operate with the more permeable boundaries that come along with the web 2.o environment. Specifically, a Social Business Strategy is a combination of:
- Social media– those applications that support or promote the brand and interaction with customers for selling.
- Social support– those applications that facilitate the customer experience after the sale, such as peer-to-peer communities, microblogging, search and listen applications.
- Social networking– those applications that facilitate interaction between individuals, often used for talent management and knowledge management.
- Social innovation– those applications that facilitate creating of new ideas within the corporation such as crowdsourcing and collective intelligence.
- Social infrastructure– the technologies and people used to provide the foundation and networking necessary to make the applications work such as the architecture, the IT organization, the PR firm, the business analytics applications, and the monitoring tools.
- Social liability– the legal, IP, and security issues that must be addressed for successful social business in the corporate environment.
When considering where to start, as always the discussion begins with the needs of the business. The business strategy drives the social business strategy, but at the same time, the social business strategy enables and informs the business strategy. In the future, these may be one in the same, but today, as companies try to sort through their social business strategy, it must be something that is complementary to the goals of the business.
However in the case of social business strategy, the needs of the business are made more complex by the fact that web 2.0 tools available enable individuals who are not part of the traditional corporate structure to create content that directly and significantly affects the company. Witness how one individual created a storm for United Airlines, or where a group of individuals convinced Facebook to reverse a business decision.
Corporate executives seem to have a wait and see attitude. They are waiting to make sure social business is not just some passing fad. They are watching to see what the real opportunities are and what the ‘killer app’ will be.
However the window of opportunity is here now and the consequences of not building your social business strategy means that best case, the corporation is relegated to be a follower rather than a leader. But worst case may be that you can never catch up, and that could mean extinction. Is it worth the risk?