If you've been looking for a study that will help you better understand how organizations around the globe are viewing the opportunity social business presents as a fundamental way by which to rethink and overhaul how they conduct their business operations in the social age, IBM has something for you.
Earlier today, we released the new IBM Institute for Business Value study entitled "The Business of Social Business."
IBM's recent study on "The Business of Social Business" revealed three major areas where organizations can most effectively apply their social business investments. The study surveyed more than 1,100 businesses worldwide, and included extensive interviews with more than two dozen widely recognized leaders in social business. You can find a link to a downloadable version of the study later in this blog post.
This was a survey conducted of more than 1,110 businesses around the world, and with extensive interviews with more than two dozen recognized global leaders in social business. Many of those executives explained to IBM that, in fact, social business is gaining traction in their organizations.
Top line, 46 percent of the companies surveyed increased their investments in social business in 2012, and 62 percent indicated they were going to increase their expenditures in the next three years.
As the executive summary of the report stated, "The question surrounding social media today is not whether you are doing but, but whether you are doing enough.
Getting your 100,000th "Like" on Facebook, or having your latest pearl of wisdom retweeted 200 times an hour is all well and good, but are these activities driving revenue, attracting talent, and bridging the collaboration gaps in your organization?"
Is your use of social media allowing your organization to engage with the right customers, improve their online experience, and tap into their latest insights and ideas?
And does your social approach provide your customer-facing representatives with the ability to search the globe for expertise or apply learnings?
For far too many organizations, the answer is, "not yet."
What IS social business?
IBM defines social business as embedding tools, media, and practices into the ongoing activities of an organization. It enables individuals to connect and share information and insights more effectively with others, both inside and outside the organization.
Social business tools facilitate engagement in extensive discussions with employees, customers, business partners, and other stakeholders and allow sharing of resources, skills, and knowledge to drive business outcomes.
And what's the upside? Top-line growth for social business users can improve between 3 and 11 percent, according to a recent study from the McKinsey Global Institute, and productivity can be enhanced by between 2 and 12 percent.
I'll hand you off to a link of the full study later, but to net out the findings, IBM's survey and interviews revealed three major areas where organizations apply social business investments (see graphic above):
Create valued customer experiences
Drive workforce productivity and effectiveness
Shifting towards sales and service
For those who have been involved in the social media realm to date, it's important to note that social business is about moving beyond basic promotional activities to encompass the entire customer lifecycle, including lead generation, sales, and post-sales service.
The IBM study had a sub-sample of clients with some social business experience which revealed that, while the percentage of companies expecting to use social business for promotional activities will rise slightly, from 71 percent today to 83 percent in the next two years, the number of companies expecting to use social approaches to generate sales leads and revenue will increase dramatically.
How companies are using social business capabilities is evolving rapidly. As you can see in the graphic, it is moving beyond basic promotional activities to encompass the entire customer lifecycle, including lead generation, sales, and even post-sales service.
Today, 51 percent use social approaches for leads and revenue, while 74 percent plan to get on board in the next two years. Post-sales support is also expected to increase, from 46 percent today to 69 percent over the next two years (see graphic entitled "Users of Social Business").
Getting started with social business
Regardless of where your organization is in its own social business journey, the use of social business practices is a transformation that leads toward new ways of working.
IBM's research revealed three essential actions to be taken across the enterprise, from the CEO's office to the farthest corner of the organization.
Develop social methods and tools to create consistent and valued customer experiences.
Embed social capabilities to drive workforce productivity and effectiveness.
As IBM's vice president for social business, Sandy Carter, explained in the video interview below during our recent interview at the IBM Interconnect in Singapore, "culture eats strategy for lunch." Sandy offered up some great advice on world-class social business practices, as well as how companies and individuals can better establish their brands in an increasingly crowded social marketplace.
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