Category Archives: social business

How Social Business relates to the Smarter Planet narrative

On a presentation today, Scott Neuman from IBM Collaborative Solutions showed how Social Business fits in with the key tenets of the Smarter Planet:


How are we getting more instrumented? As an example, smartphone shipments will outpace PCs by 2012. Technology is closer to us than ever before. For instance Location-Based Services allow us to share information directly related to our current location. Devices play a more integral role in our lives than ever before.


Beyond the proliferation of devices, we are seeing more of these devices being network-enabled. As a result, social networking accounts for 22% of all online time. Through Social Business, enterprises can realize more value by creating linkages across the ecosystem. Whether this involves tying up customer feedback to product development to fuel product innovation, or sharing information across a global sales organization, business operations can be more agile, customer-facing and inherently more valuable.


We are seeing increasing use of social data to help shape business decisions. Business Analytics and Optimization plays heavily into this area. Whether this be analysis of front-end data from social media monitoring or an examination of product forum threads to expose customer pain points, the Social Business is a smarter business.

This fits in neatly with the recent launch of the IBM Social Business site in the Smarter Planet area of You’ll find a number of resources, including the IBM Social Business Jam which I recently blogged about and a notable mention of IBMer Luis Suarez Rodrigues, who has been a major advocate of internal social networking here.

Measuring social business ROI: results from an IBM Jam

In February this year, IBM hosted a Jam (a 72-hour online forum with participation from IBM and beyond) on the topic of Social Business.

In case you’re not familiar with the term Social Business, here is definition I hear a lot in IBM corridors:

1: a business that embraces networks of people to create business value 
2: a business that is engaged, transparent, and nimble

This goes beyond social media, which is largely the domain of marketing/comms departments to touch on the very fabric of the enterprise, including internal collaboration and social networking with partners and suppliers.

As is the case with just about any discussion around Social Business, the thorny issue of ROI came up. How do you measure the value of this undertaking?

These are some of the metrics Jam participants suggested:

  • How often the brand is mentioned in social media (marketing/support/product management)
  • How engaged customers are by how often they comment on or share information about the brand (account management/customer support)
  • How many customers are being exposed to messaging (marketing/support)
  • How many customers are active advocates for the brand (support/account management)
  • How the efforts of these advocates are resulting in new customers or increased traffic (account management/marketing)
  • How many issues are being successfully resolved—and how quickly (support)
  • How satisfied customers are and what kind of feedback they are providing (support/account management)

I’ve added in parentheses the departments that have a major stake in those metrics. As you can see, this goes way beyond customer acquisition and the normal domain of marketing/communications. Bottom line: social business monitoring goes way beyond tracking Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers.

Are there key metrics you think should be added to the list? I’d love to hear!

Read more on the Social Business Jam (pdf)

Read more about Social Business

Silos can still exist in a ‘mature’ social business

Can social business be widely adopted yet still siloed? I believe so. Even if ‘social’ is baked into every member of the C* Suite and down, you can see a lot of social business execution, but little cross-functional communication.

This topic was touched on at the Social Media Club panel discussion at PeopleBrowsr in San Francisco tonight. Panel featured Michael Brito, Jen McClure and Peter Kim, with Chris Heuer serving as moderator.

It’s reassuring to hear many at today’s event cite IBM as a great example of a social business, and indeed there’s a healthy level of executive support and many innovative programs here.

Still, certain practices are hard to institute.

For instance, mining intranets and internal social networks for information that could be valuable if exposed externally. Whether because of governance and security risk, or the extreme distance between knowledge management professionals and marketing execution, this doesn’t happen in any systematic way. Another example: few marketing teams interact with product forums, whether to understand customer pain points, build stronger messaging, or dig out up-sell opportunities. Product forums are the domain of customer support.

I’d suggest these kinds of silos need to come down before we have a truly social business.

Other thoughts from the Social Media Club talk tonight (random order):

Policy and process. As social business becomes more ‘businesslike’, does this get in the way of experimentation and take away from the ‘fail fast’ manifesto of social media marketing?

Social business terminology. I fully subscribe to the position that the term social business is more holistic than the term social media (which is largely perceived as a marketing/comms exercise), and that’s enough to justify its existence. However, we’re noticing push-back from one particular sphere: academia. Here, a social business is one that takes into account social and environmental factors when making business decisions. ‘Social’ as in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This could also be related to the fact that CSR tends to resonate strongly with the student population.

Whatever the case, there is some work to be done to fully institutionalize the term ‘social business’ across the board.

Damned in large companies, damned in small. Interesting to hear the perspective that social media/business programs are hard to institute in small companies because the staff and infrastructure aren’t there. I can offer a similarly dim perspective from the other side of the spectrum. With 400K employees, IBM has a healthy smattering of social media/business employees. That’s not our problem. The harder part is climbing across the organization to find an expert in product development or R&D. In a smaller organization, you can just peak over the cube and find someone with domain expertise. This can take weeks of major sleuthing in a large organization.

Still, we manage to see strong social business cases from companies big and small. We should take solace in these and work with, and learn from our limitations.

For more information on similar events, check out the Social Media Club to see what’s happening near you.

Social Business Framework: an integrated approach to managing enterprise communities

Earlier today, Charlie Hill, CTO for IBM’s Collaboration Solutions provided an overview of Social Business as the first in a series of webinars on this topic.

I’m familiar with the confusion that exists in the marketplace around what Social Business represents, from those who see this as little more than the old oil of social media in new bottles, to the appropriation of the ambiguous term ‘social’ (there’s no direct link here to ‘corporate social responsibility’ or ‘socialist policies’. Charlie did a good job of setting out his stall, suggesting:

  • Social business accelerates communication and collaboration across networks of employees, customers and partners
  • Enterprises may use social content to capture and share expertise and best practices, making ad hoc processes more efficient and transparent
  • Social business enables new business insights by analyzing social data to gain a better understanding of business situations and the decision-making process

Key points here are that that social networks create real business value and allow businesses to be more agile and flexible. You can’t just put up a Facebook page and consider that the job’s done.

Charlie spent the rest of the presentation covering the Social Business Framework, which he defined as follows:

(click to expand)

Consider roles/processes/applications

This should start before any software or technical evaluation. Look at where the current bottlenecks or costly process fissures occur and start with looking at how these can be fixed. Also look for areas where most employees are spending most time. Around these processes are the areas where you stand to see the biggest improvements.


This can be described as facilitating communication across the ecosystem. It could be the use of messaging services to share short, synchronous messages with suppliers. It could be an internal Twitter-style tool.


Intranets are nothing new. Fundamental here is the development of systems to allow user-generated content. Holding product documentation within a wiki environment where any user can add input is an example of this.


In this context, insight refers to using analytics to monitor the social space. It could be that you look for keyword trends to help structure the information and ensure that the system prioritizes the content of most interest to users.

Identity integration and governance

User accounts need to be maintained. Within an organization it may make sense to relate profiles to the organizational structure to help users determine the relative importance of content and understand where the perspective is coming from.

There may also be some information which should remain private. Perhaps delicate communication between HR and Finance around a merger. Governance policies and security can guard against nasty accidents. 

Cooperative application technologies

There can be a number of tools within the enterprise that can be enhanced by integrating social components. Eg. web analytics. Integration could be handled through widgets, APIs, LDAP or other methods that tie systems together.

Strategy and change management

The bookends on this diagram talk to implementation and maintenance of the Social Business Framework. Given the fact that this market is by no means mature, you should definitely consider what the upgrade path may look like and how easily the delivery model can be changed (like moving the application to the cloud).

This webinar provided a great primer on Social Business and provides a stepping stone into the further topics in this webinar series: The Social Business Toolkit, Lifting Applications to the Cloud, Social Applications go Mobile.

Social Business webcast series kicks off next week

Want to understand more about social business and IBM’s role in this emerging space? Some of the major practioners will be presenting latest thoughts, concepts and applications in a webinar series that kicks off next week.

From May 17 to June 14, topics covered will include a definition of social business (a hot topic given the latest round of presentations by Deloitte’s @ChrisHeuer), the implications of taking applications into the Cloud, and producing applications that can be deployed across mobile and other platforms.

Taking into account the fast-paced nature of the social business world, each of these webcasts will delivered in a punchy 20 minutes:

Date: May 17, 11am EDT
Title: IBM Social Business Overview
Presenter: Charlie Hill
Abstract: IBM’s Distinguished Engineer and CTO, Charlie Hill will define what it means to be a Social Business and the benefits organizations can gain with successfully transforming into a Social Business. Charlie will talk about how to build social applications and embed social capabilities into existing business processes and applications. After attending this webcast, you’ll be ready to get started in building the social applications that will drive businesses for years to come.
Check out the recording

Date: May 24, 11am EDT
Title: The IBM Social Business Toolkit
Presenter: Philippe Riand
Abstract: Adding social functionality to business applications brings productivity to a whole new level.  Learn how to use the IBM Social Business Toolkit to bring your applications to a whole new level.  Social business applications leverage the collective wisdom and discover a wealth of relevant information in the context of the current task.  Learn how to make your applications do that!
Check out the recording

June 7, 11am EDT
Title: Lifting Applications to the Cloud
Presenter: Mike Masterson
Abstract: Everyone is talking about the cloud.  Customers want to know if your application runs in the cloud.  Find out how IBM can help you to answer "yes" by integrating with IBM’s premier cloud solution, LotusLive.
Check out the recording

Date: June 14, 11am EDT
Title: Social Applications Go Mobile
Presenter: Tyler Tribe
Abstract: People need to access your application from anywhere, and it’s no different for social business applications.  Learn how IBM’s strategy allows you to write once and run everywhere, whether on a PC, smart phone, or iPad.  Find out how to build Websphere Portal applications that can be accessed from your favorite mobile device.
Check out the recording

We’ll use crowdsourcing to come up with future subjects to provide insights from subject matter experts.

The business value in social networks

I just had the wonderful opportunity to present to the students of City University of New York (CUNY) along with Bilal Jaffery on where we see the business value in social media.

You can watch the presentation, which is part of the ongoing Roundtable series here:

CUNY Presentation: The Business Value in Social Networks from Daryl Pereira on Vimeo.

Or rifle through the slides:

Bottom line is that social media is transforming the way we do business: we are realizing massive efficiencies and humanizing corporations by providing employees the tools and knowledge to develop deeper relationships with each other and the extended ecosystem. Gone are the days when communications from a brand only came through the marketing and communications department.

As with any presentation, the following Q&A session was fascinating. Questions ranged from how does an individual make a dent in the social media landscape to how do you expand into foreign markets. We also touched on how we use crowdsourcing here at IBM for feedback on everything from our social media guidelines to the positioning of marketing campaigns.

More on the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise

Social media is no longer disruptive (Social Media Week SF Breakfast)

So, looks like I managed to bookend social media week in San Francisco catching the PeopleBrowsr event on the first day, and today, one of the final sessions with headliner Shel Israel. I’m sure there’s no need for introduction, but just in case.

An interesting takeaway for me was Shel’s statement that ‘social media is no longer disruptive… it’s in the process of normalization’. What does that normalization look like? Facebook and Twitter buttons are on the website of almost every major brand out there. It also means many companies now have a dedicated person performing some form of social media management role – generally spawned out of the marketing or comms department (although potentially covering much more than that).

Shel mentioned how brands like Dell and Best Buy are hiring journalists to come into the organization and report what they see. As the other Shel present (Holtz) emphasized to me, this is significantly different from journalists jumping over the fence and becoming PR professionals. This is journalists independently reporting about what they see within an organization (kind of like when a journalist team embed themselves in an army unit during conflict, but without the need for body armor).

Shel Israel also described how companies (including IBM) are using social media to inform product development. Upcoming features and betas are shared with users prior to general release. As Shel points out, amongst other things, there can be huge cost savings in marketing departments: no need to go out and try and convince an audience they need to buy a product they didn’t really want in the first place.

As Katy Keim, CMO for Lithium later suggested, we are moving to a paradigm where social business is just a metaphor for good business. In fact there’s no reason to call it ‘social’ business (ties up with what Charlene Li said years ago about social networks becoming like air).

I do strongly agree with the sentiment that ‘social’ is now heavily woven into the business psyche – it’s getting increasingly difficult in business circles to find individuals who will discount the importance of social media in practicing business today (which wasn’t the case two years ago). However, our business processes and organizational silos are yet to materially come up to this ideal. One example I heard this week: social media monitoring is still largely only applied to marketing campaigns, rather than building a picture of all conversations happening around an organization. Whilst the spirit of disruption may no longer be there, I think there is still some change management ahead of us before all business is truly social.

See more of the conversations around this event on Twazzup.

Attend a future Social Media Breakfast (East Bay).

Creating a social business through developerWorks: the GoMidjets story

Even though I wasn’t at Lotusphere this year, I did get a sneak peak at Stacy Pschenica’s presentation on the value of the developerWorks community: to members, partners and thankfully (given the source of my salary) IBM.

One particular slide jumped out:


This is the impressive story of GoMidjets, a provider of configuration management plug-ins for IBM Rational software. GoMidgets founder Tamir Gefen was a user of Rational CM and ALM who originally used developerWorks Rational forums to solve problems and pick up tips. Before long he found himself contributing heavily on Rational forums – providing simplified and automated processes to help other users work more efficiently. This led to the creation of GoMidjets: an IBM partner offering plug-ins and professional consulting for IBM Rational ClearCase. Tamir continued to use the developerWorks forums for obtaining product feedback, development and brainstorming around ideas. 

As he pointed out in an earlier interview with Valerie Skinner,

"I use developerWorks as a focused network to communicate with professionals from the Gurus to the users. Through developerWorks, I get to hear what people have to say, learn new ideas, get technical information and more. I like to think I don’t just gain from it but also contribute. More than anything, I use it to answer questions in the Rational ClearCase and ClearQuest forums. I enjoy solving users’ problems."

Tamir now receives 40% of his leads from the developerWorks network. How’s that for a living, breathing example of social business?

Some key points that come out of the GoMidjets story:

  • Social networks represent great assets for business development. Forums contain detailed market intelligence: users openly share their pain points. If you can help address these, you could be looking at a viable business proposition.
  • Don’t underestimate the altruistic motive. Look to add real value to the community. Spend time answering questions rather than just pumping out sales/marketing messages. Develop relationships: who know where these will lead in the future?
  • Take the risky business of product development out from behind the closed doors of your organization. Think of forums as focus groups where you can obtain user feedback and find out if a new feature really does have legs, or is just an attempt to solve a non-existent problem.

Want to replicate the GoMidjets story?

Our forums are one of the most popular areas of our site – check them out. If you would like to setup a specialized group with the opportunity to collaborate over files, activities, bookmarks and more, go right ahead. If you have a message to share or would like to provide regular updates to our community, request a blog via the link on this page.

Stacy took the opportunity to talk a little further about the developerWorks mission to the Lotusphere video press gang:

Have your own social business stories to share? Comment below!