Social media has profoundly impacted society and business. People can connect, collaborate, consume and create, using technologies and platforms they adopted at a pace never seen before in human history. Various technological innovations, including cloud computing, mobile, big data and the next-generation web technologies, are changing the way we live, organize and do business.
Some consider the impact of these changes as revolutions. Others consider them as logical evolutions and some call them old wine in new bags. Revolutions come in many forms and shapes and are often followed by a fresh regime that turns out to be not that different from the previous one. On the other hand, saying nothing is new, is naïve and often a sign of either preferring the comfort zone, either not having a global view. So, the truth is probably somewhere in between.
In the last year, a dozen of books was published regarding what is known as ‘social business’. There are different definitions regarding social business. However, as Michael Brito recently pointed out, the definition really doesn’t matter that much.
Changing business processes and models
The simple truth is that recent technologies, including social, impact business, work, life, economy and society. Technology has always done that and always will. Smart businesses are implementing some of the principles and models of social business right now.
For them, it’s not about social media. It’s about how the underlying drivers of social media and other technologies can be implemented to improve operations, business goals, revenue and customer experiences. It’s also about how the societal and human changes in a ‘connected world’ require organizations to rethink business models and processes to be more relevant, agile and aligned with the reality. In a way, this is my definition of social business.
Does this mean social media is not important? Of course it doesn’t. What’s important is a holistic business view that includes a smart use of social technologies. It’s not a choice but a mix of whatever channels, tactics and strategies serve your goals and those of your ecosystem best.
We should not glorify technology as such. We still have to learn a lot about the impact of recent innovations, and probably we will discover things we don’t like. Furthermore, we are just starting to see what is possible and are at the verge of more major technological innovations. However, in the meantime, your ‘competitor’ is adapting and applying social business strategies with success.
We must realize that the adoption of social media and other technologies, is non-linear. Some people use them in a very intensive way, while others don’t use them at all. The same applies for organizations. While some are focusing on social media (channels), asking wrong questions such as “how to build a Facebook page and get fans,” a few have seen that it is indeed not about social media. It’s about business, processes, management and new ways of working and collaborating.
Social as a way to be more relevant and efficient
The smartest organizations reap the fruits of having implemented social business principles and practices. They are ahead of the curve and outperform their colleagues in several domains and functions. Business IS about several functions. The goal of a business is not to be a ‘social business’, it’s to improve efficiency and relevancy as ways towards stakeholder satisfaction and revenue. Social is a means to that end.
We have reached a tipping point whereby many business models are under pressure because of better ones that are used by our competitors. And most of all because our customers, including employees, partners and all internal and external stakeholders, increasingly demand change.
Small and –sometimes even temporary – teams of passionate and participating people, who are connected, can achieve a lot in short period of time with limited budgets. Speed, agility, consistency and respect are crucial.
Imagine what you could achieve if you had such agile teams and processes in your business.
The good news? You can have them, no matter the size of your organization.