Some confusion seems to remain within businesses about the difference between employing social media for marketing, awareness and outreach, and developing a business-wide social strategy that includes the adoption of collaboration and social tools internally. As a result, social business remains a fertile ground for growth, as shown by Vanessa DiMauro’s summary notes for the Leader Networks 2014 Social Business Benchmark Study.
The summary emphasizes the lack of internal social tool adoption. The results showed that only one in 25 businesses surveyed had robust social strategies, with social activities and the associated metrics divorced from any measurements of impact to organizational behavior. The strategic leadership for social media falls to marketing half of the time, but the same department is typically not responsible for setting the overall social business direction. The opportunity for internal social tool growth is significant, with the majority of survey respondents reporting the use of social media for external outreach but only 37 percent reporting a functional intranet.
Midsize businesses moving towards social transformation can achieve that goal faster than their larger competition by developing a social strategy to target business-wide adoption rather than staged rollouts. The development of a coherent social business strategy is more than directing the IT department to provide additional communication technologies. Instead, it focuses on employing social tools that augment or even replace the existing core business processes. With a narrower focus than larger, diverse businesses, a midsize business is positioned to create a social strategy that drives successful business change.
Any business strategy will require input from both business and IT areas to ensure that social tools serve business needs and are compatible with existing data repositories. The business needs will guide where change will benefit the organization, and data integration allows for measuring the impact of social business tool adoption. As a business-wide strategy, measuring outcomes and adjusting the strategy accordingly is necessary to avoid continuing with changes that do not bring benefits.
Social data integration is not only for analytical investigations and executive reporting, but in many cases can be a regulatory business requirement. It can be necessary to ensure the business remains in compliance with data-retention regulations and e-discovery requirements. By recommending technologies that integrate the social tools with existing business data systems, the potential for additional data silos are eliminated and data management can remain streamlined.
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.