Social business, and indeed social media as a whole, often struggles to achieve the results it should do. Research earlier this year found that just 13% of IT professionals thought their internal social networks were a success. The general failure of social business to deliver results led one group to issue a $10,000 bounty for anyone that could prove positive ROI from their social business endeavours.
So a new report released this month by IBM should be required reading for anyone with a desire to create a social business. The report, called The Business of Social Business: What works and how it’s done, looked at social business projects across 1,000 companies from a wide array of industries. They wanted to find out how companies are using social business and what was working for them.
Three main areas jumped out as being particularly successful:
- Creating valued customer experiences
- Driving workforce productivity and effectiveness
- Accelerating innovation
Suffice to say that each of these are relatively obvious areas to utilise social business and are thus good places to begin the process of becoming social. Of greater interest however is the importance IBM placed on the cultural aspect of social business. Success rests on your ability to weave social into the fabric of how you do business.
In order for this to happen they recommend that the following three issues are addressed:
- You need to figure out how to incorporate social metrics into traditional processes
- You need to be clear on the risks involved and how to manage them
- This is a change management thing, and whilst it will require a unique application of change management, it will nonetheless require tried and tested techniques to influence corporate culture and performance.
I wrote almost a year ago to the day about how successful social adoption is a cultural thing more than it is a technical thing, and this report underlines that completely. The twin issues of ROI and risk however have received more recent coverage.
Social business ROI
Last month Deloitte released a report on the importance of connecting social business with the over-arching aims of the organisation. They suggested that whilst most organisations have ‘best practice’ guidelines in place, most of the time we end up working around those guidelines in order to cope with exceptional circumstances. By making these so called hidden practices visible, social business can then drive real business value.
Managing the risks of social media
The issue of risk was one that was covered nicely by Charlene Li and her Altimeter Group earlier this summer. They broke down risk management into four main areas:
- Identify the risk- First things first you have to identify the risks you face. These could be a risk to your brand, a leaking of confidential information, legal violations or identity theft. Altimeter found that the most common threat was to a companies brand, but if you investigate potential sources of risk you may come up with something more specific to your own situation.
- Assess the risk - Next you have to assess how likely that risk is to do you damage. It’s basically a bit of probability analysis. Couple up the likelihood of a risk happening with the damage it would do if it did occur to give you a decent understanding of the risks you face and the damage they can do.
- Manage and mitigate the risk – The next step is to deal with the risk. You might be able to eliminate it completely (unlikely) or you might be able to reduce the odds of it occuring, or indeed mitigating the damage should the worst materialise. Common strategies here include providing outstanding training on how staff should behave on social media and what you expect from them when they use it.
- Monitor and evaluate the risk – As with most things like this, you should never be completely satisfied, so the final step is to regularly review and regulate their existing risk strategies to take account of both the success of the current strategy and the changing landscape within which they operate.