Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where Social Media and Business Intersect

This week's edition of When Fridays Were Fridays is being posted early, due to the holiday. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

A recent article by Drew Neisser titled Why IBM Could be Bigger Than Facebook in Social Media got my attention. It wasn’t the fact that Neisser mentioned IBM and Facebook in the same sentence that got me, nor the fact that IBM recently announced the IBM Customer Experience Suite.

It was the quote from Jeffrey Schick, IBM's VP of Social Software, that got my attention. Schick told Neisser, "At IBM 15 years ago, we had a way to look up people to create a globally connected enterprise. Today we have approximately 500,000 people within IBM and we do about 6 million look ups a day on pages that look strikingly similar to other social network profile pages with features like blogging and photo posting."

This is not the first time IBM was using a tool internally long before the rest of the world – e-mail, instant messaging, and intranet technologies were all used internally within IBM long before they were even given names. They arose out of the necessity to be connected. They were – and are – the basis for what we now call social media tools.

So, is IBM likely to compete with Facebook in the social media market?

I’ve written in the past about the need for large corporations to leverage social media as a marketing tool – to listen and respond to their clients – but I don’t see IBM providing the technology for end-user/consumer social media. IBM’s strength lies within the enterprise. Providing the tools to keep large global companies and their employees connected – within the walls of the company – is where IBM is likely to excel in this market.

For such a venture to be successful it would need to have the same components of a Facebook – the ability to selectively connect, to share information, to respond/comment on information, and to be able to integrate with other company data and systems. I am describing an intra-company Facebook.

Such a system would need to be highly scalable. The concept of groups would be key – with the ability to create sub-groups within groups, and groups that bring other groups together. Most of all, such a system would need to be secure.

I think we have just begun to scratch the surface of intra-company social media technology tools, and are likely to see an explosion in this area over the next decade. What do you think?


Adam Krob said...

I very much appreciate your post! So much of the conversation around social networks ends up debating the relative merits of a corporate Twitter feed!

One of the greatest opportunities for internal social networks is creating conversations and a single view of a customer across an organization. Imagine a conversation between engineering, sales, and customer support around the overall health of a customer who is about to renew or a free-flowing dialogue between product management and professional services about features that worked really well for a particular customer and some that didn't.

There are already some entrants into this field, but it will definitely grow. It represents a real opportunity for companies and I hope that they choose to take it.

Colette said...

Adam, glad you like it! As a veteran of Corporate America I can totally appreciate how an intra-social media would greatly improve productivity. I think we have just scratched the surface of this space.

Louis said...

I really like how you describe the intersection of social media and business. I think that social media can help promote any business with its strategies. Every business owners should have a knowledge of it so they can maintain the growth of their business.

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