Social Business

There is a revolution going on in business systems which is one of the biggest changes of recent years. While people are generally aware of it, many would be surprised at its scope and scale, not to mention its implications.

In part, Social business involves the growing use of social media, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn by business, in areas as diverse as human resource management, customer relations, marketing and procurement. That much is widely known. Many people interacting with business as a prospective employee or customer have experienced this first hand.

But in many cases, this use of social media is being achieved through means much more intricate than simply monitoring social media and trying to apply the results to the decision at hand.

More and more, companies are integrating their conventional systems with selected social media. This integration means the social media activity data becomes a part of the data available to managers on an ongoing basis within their systems.

The integration is taking place at different levels and in different ways. Some businesses are replacing their legacy applications with social media-enabled applications, which are pre-integrated. But this can be a very expensive solution and so far, the applications are just coming onto the market. Others are installing new applications that bridge the gap between their own systems and the social media. A growing number of applications of this type are entering the market. Still others are installing home-grown connectors, using tools like XML.

But there is more to social business than linking to established social media. Generally social business can be defined as an approach to business which engages its internal and external stakeholders and uses the results of that engagement to create value in the organization. That definition is broader than the use of established social media and implies two things – (1) a wider usage of social media than the traditional media and (2) an approach to conducting business that routinely takes input from the stakeholders and includes it in the decision making process.

These are important shifts in business process and can be expected to have a major impact on the conduct of business.

It should, for example, make business more responsive to their employees, customers and others. This will raise the bar in terms of competitiveness. Generally, a new technologically-driven initiative begins as a competitive advantage and if it catches on, becomes a competitive necessity. Social business is already showing signs of becoming a competitive necessity. So we can expect companies to become a lot more creative in this area, moving beyond Facebook and the others and developing their own social media as part of their information systems. It promises to be interesting.