All Business is Social But How Social is Your Business?

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Tweeting for dollars, blogging for bucks. The common misconception regarding the idea of social business is that it’s simply selling through social media. And while selling to consumers is a part of it, social business is much more than that. Social business is the idea of is taking the principles, technologies and behaviors of consumer social media and applying them to the enterprise. That is, replicating social collaboration within your enterprise community. Does that mean selling? It could, yes. Does that mean enabling Words with Friends for the shipping department? Probably not.Collaborative technologies in social business

So what are those collaborative technologies? When the idea of Enterprise 2.0 was put forth by Andrew McAfee back in 2006, he made the realization that not only were Web 2.0 technologies like search and instant messaging in use but many of them were already in the enterprise stack enabling communication, knowledge sharing, etc. He noted that these applications, if applied internally, can knit the enterprise together and create employee collaboration that wasn’t possible before.

So really, when we think about Enterprise 2.0, we need to look to the new consumer or Consumer 2.0. This is the consumer who uses Facebook to connect and crowdsource decisions, uses Twitter to build circles of experts and Foursquare to update friends on location and status. He or she uses smartphone-enabled search apps and gets reviews and recommendations in real time quite often at the same time.

What is important to point out here is that the idea of social business is not just social technology in the enterprise. It is primarily social empowerment of the employee. It’s all about letting them use the tools like information acquisition in real time, crowdsourced, contextual intelligence, and knowledge sharing that they use in their personal lives, in ways that creates deeper customer engagement. And it is about tying this social enterprise to a company’s customers.

Enterprise 2.0 is about that powerful global conversation: a conversation that allows us to share information at blinding speed. The effect is that the consumers get smarter and in some respects, get smarter faster than the companies that are trying to serve them. Where Enterprise 2.0 and Consumer 2.0 meet is where the change in customer engagement happens: engage your customers not only in the mediums but also in the manners they prefer. They have a knowledge base, your agents have a knowledge base, they get real time answers, the contact center gives them real time answers.

Social business exemplifies itself most readily in the evolution of contact center to engagement center. In next week’s post, we’ll look how to apply the tools and create the applications to optimize your CRM platform and take advantage them.