I like this posting from Rawn Shah on Forves very much. Rawn lists all the different vendors offering Social Business and Collaboration services, from the Business software stack vendors to new cloud and mobile offerings. But it is more:
However, it’s important to see that social business is not simply a software one. It is a business transformation involving organizational culture, enterprise business processes, customer relations, and workforce behavior just as much as it is a change to the enterprise IT infrastructure.
Yes, it is about transforming the business. It is about moving outside of the e-mail inbox to a more networked, social environment. It is a change process, change management and perhaps hitchhiking to social business:
While it may be relatively easier to push technology onto users, transforming business culture takes much more convincing: changing attitudes to do work in a social space, changing task and workflow behavior, changing motivation and compensation models, changing business metrics and KPIs, changing customer facing processes, working through longer adoption cycles, and ingraining a culture of collaboration. This involves a different lens than just the IT department—it can involve HR, business management, customer service, product development and innovation.
Rawn argues for the necessity of consulting services, to transform a business into a Social Business. I personally do have multiple personalities when talking about consultants. Yes, on the one side we do need them for sure. On the other side we do not need years of consulting services and project cycles in Social Business. I do believe that introducing social in an enterprise (or a Government agency) should be handled differently. It should be done more Web 2.0 alike. It should be more experimental. I am not talking about doing only try and error, but Social Business needs to grow within your organization, grow in the communciation and collaboration with your customers and business partners. It is not the typical consulttant-driven ERP-introduction.
Will 2011 become the Year of Social Business? Possibly so, but regardless of it becoming a hot topic in technology, the perception needs to shift to the focus on a hot topic in business management and organizational operations. Isolated pockets of applying social collaboration will not only limit scope but can severely limit the impact of social business. It is a new foundational aspect to business itself, on par with the need for telephones for your employees—it would simply not make sense to limit phone usage to only some employees and require others use face-to-face or paper mail to interact.
Rawn is right, when he sees social as a foundational aspect of the business itself. It is a cultural mindchange. Social Business (at least in this definition) is not being done for the sake of being social. It will only be successful when we show the value to the business. Perhaps we do need a Hitchhiker's Guide to Social Business? And some Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent alikes "Hippie 2.0" consultants to introduce it succesfully in the the enterprise. And don't lend your ear to Marvin. The ultimate answer is ... Social Business.