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Are You Social?

By Dave Moorman, DynaSis

Social media activities are capturing many headlines these days, whether it's a celebrity tweeting something foolish or an employee being fired for posting the wrong thing on Facebook. These stories make for interesting reading, but they obscure the underlying message—social media is here to stay. Not only has it become deeply entwined with many peoples' lives, but the newer generation of workers is positively addicted to it.

Savvy, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are exploring social media in all its aspects. This effort goes well beyond creating social media policies for usage in the office or even launching social marketing campaigns. Social media in the enterprise, for which the new catchphrase is "social business," can include internal collaboration between employees and contractors, external communication and information sharing with vendors and customers, and much more.

Nearly 62% of businesses are expanding their investments in social business, per an IBM Institute for Business Value report. Increasingly, companies are weaving social throughout their operations—from marketing and customer service  to team collaboration and R&D.  The immediacy that social media offers has incredible advantages in today's fast-paced business world. Consider these examples:

  • Attendees at a conference discover when arriving on Sunday that their packets lack Monday's session brochure. If office workers or meeting planners are monitoring conference Twitter feed, they can resolve the problem that night and ensure the brochures are awaiting everyone the next morning. If the problem had to be address via email, it MIGHT be resolved as quickly—if an attendee knows where to send the message. Otherwise, a phone message might go unnoticed until the next morning, and attendees might miss getting maximum value from the morning's sessions.
  • An employee finds conflicting information in a report he or she is preparing for an important meeting. Their regular "go-to" person is unavailable, but the company has built a network of designated experts in various topics and connected them via internal social media. As a result, the employee can post out his or her question and it will appear, instantly, on the desks of qualified workers who can then respond.

These examples only scratch the surface of what social media can do for a company beyond marketing and branding. Anything that averts an unnecessary delay in company operations fosters momentum and agility. Every resolution that saves a few minutes of productivity adds to the cumulative value of social media, which can be enormous over the course of a year.

Simply connecting workers with better, more available information can provide extraordinary benefit. A 2011 IDC report estimated that knowledge workers spend 15%-35% of each day just searching for the right information.

SMBs that become social businesses can more efficiently process, leverage and disperse the massive amounts of data flowing through the world every day. They can help people connect, find expertise, make better decisions, take swifter action and develop stronger employee, customer and vendor relationships. Doesn't that sound good?

Of course, in order to achieve this benefit cost effectively, firms need their technology ecosystem to support the effort, and they need to develop lasting, viable social business programs tailored to their needs, not jump on whatever bandwagon happens by.

Furthermore, they must design the program with mechanisms and metrics to ensure sufficient management buy-in, security, governance and other success factors—just as they would with any major deployment. (Stay tuned—I'll talk about more about this in a future blog later this fall.)

DynaSis' on-demand CIOs have the knowledge and expertise to help you evaluate and develop a robust, fully integrated social business platform in your own firm. If you'd like to speak with one to learn more now, give me a call.

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