RENEGADE THINKING from the CEO of Renegade, the social media & marketing agency that helps clients make more out of less by transforming communications into "Marketing as Service."

SMWF Preview on Social Business w J. Epstein, Sprinklr

11/26/12

Most of the time on these pages when I’m talking about Social Business it seems I’m quoting someone from IBM (see 2012 interviews with Jeff Schick and Ethan McCarty).  Well, given the supreme importance of this topic, I’m happy to report I caught up with Jeremy Epstein, VP of Marketing at Sprinklr, a company that will be sharing its expertise with attendees at this week’s Social Media World Forum.  Jeremy offers a clear road map for companies looking to take social global.

Drew: There are a lot of definitions of social business out there. What’s yours?
It is when you are fully engaged in conversations to establish meaningful relationships with your customers, prospects, and community.  There are three criteria that must be met:

  1. No conversation is left behind, no matter if you are getting 10, 100, 1000, or 10,000 messages a day
  2. You add meaningful value when you speak. Each interaction results in your customer feeling like you care more about them this time than in the last interaction.
  3. The business speaks with one voice at all times, so the customer always knows that it is your business engaging with her in the way you want her to be treated.

Drew:  What role does Sprinklr play in helping companies become a social business?
Well, first off, I should be clear that we only play this role for very large companies. Over 80% of our clients have $1 billion in revenue and we’re designed specifically for their unique needs.  We’re not designed for SMB or solo practitioners. We provide a SaaS platform and related services to make the  3 criteria I shared above possible across teams, functions such as Marketing, Sales, PR, Corporate Communications, HR, etc, geographies, and division. As you know, social touches every single part of the organization. It’s not constrained to one part such as Marketing, so enterprises require one comprehensive platform to help all of these disparate teams coordinate in an effective, fast, and secure way. That’s where we come in. We enable large brands to be social at scale.

Drew: Can you walk me an example of a client that has used your service to become a social business?
While I would love for Sprinklr to take all the credit, we’re just a piece of the puzzle, working with some of the largest, most innovative social companies out there, so let me share one from a very large, global electronics company that wanted to roll out a social strategy in 70 countries.

All told, this is global social media deployment that ran to a cost tens of millions of dollars. It had 5 key steps. Here’s what they did:

  1. Built a complete a strategy map outlining the business objectives and the social activities to get there.
  2. Outlined the roles and responsibilities at the corporate, regional, and local levels.
  3. Set up an operations plan that covered things like rules of conduct, best practices, and policies for sunsetting/deactivations of accounts.
  4. Created an online brand style guide.
  5. Set up a reporting infrastructure and taxonomy so they knew which social and which business metrics would matter.

All of this led to an RFP where Sprinklr was chosen as the company to power the global social infrastructure.What we did  then is take all of the requirements, roles, policies, brand elements, and reporting templates and customize our platform for them,  so they could quickly execute their plan. You can see the full story here.

Drew:  Looking at your own marketing, what role does social play for Sprinklr?
It’s the primary way that we identify and cultivate our prospects. We are obsessive about the three criteria of the social business. We also measure the effectiveness of our social content religiously, optimizing it by audience, channel, and more.  We’re not quite there yet, but we’re on the road to making sure that Social is baked into everything we do.

Drew:  Do think there will be a new title next year like Chief Social Business Officer and is this even a good idea?
Yes, there probably will be and it could be a great idea.  Or a lousy one.  If the company appoints a CSBO (there, I’ve already done the acronym, so it must be legit!) and the rest of the exec team says “oh, great, I don’t have to worry about social,” then it will fail.

However, if the CSBO becomes the driving force for integrating social as a cultural shift supported by the right people, processes, and technology, then it will work. Either way, it’s temporary.

Drew: Looking ahead to next year, do you anticipate any new challenges for marketers in social?
Absolutely. A few of them.

  1. What happens when Engagement Works:  If you are successful in creating conversation with your audience, at some point, you are going to have a volume of messages that you can’t manage, but people expect a response. What do you do do then? This is the challenge of scale.
  2. Cross-function and cross-division collaboration becomes mandatory: Marketers will have to be more agile in working with others outside of their area in order to quickly come together and address customer concerns.
  3. Connection Social profile data to existing CRM data: It’s going to be critical to connect the two worlds. We’re advising clients to mimic the taxonomy of the CRM system in the Social Media Management System. Once you do that, when the time for the integration happens, you’ll be ready.
  4. Measurement and Impact: The same conversation about the ROI of Social will occur. Some of the innovators, however, are figuring it out.

Drew: Finally, what kinds of trends are you seeing (through your data) that marketers can capitalize on next year?
One trend we’re seeing is the investment in “Upskilling of employees”—training people to participate in the conversation economy in a way that will help, not hurt the brand. This gives marketers force multipliers in terms of achieveing their objectives through their co-workers as brand ambassadors.

Another is in LinkedIn for b2b marketing. We recently became one of the first four social media management partners for LinkedIn and our clients are very excited about exploring how to use it for b2B relationship building and lead gen..through a comprehensive platform, so they can compare apples:apples. We’ve been very impressed by the LinkedIn partnership and think you’re going to see them start to break the perception that there are the “big 3 of Twitter, FB, and YouTube” and then the rest. Global templates with local empowerment for App development.

We’re seeing marketers have a much larger range of tools at their disposal as global teams set up templates for social apps. My suggestion would be to become familiar with the concepts of Social app development and their capabilities. Even if you don’t know how to build one, you’ll benefit from understanding that.  Some practitioners will become quite savvy at drag/drop app dev and drive meaningful results from them.

Pivot Preview on Social Business w Danna Vetter, Aramark

10/9/12

In my recent MediaPost article, I argued that social media is a ripe avocado whilst social business is guacamole, taking something that is good already and transforming it something that is truly amazing. While the analogy seemed to hold up and allowed me to showcase IBM’s updated platform that helps companies make “guacamole,” it didn’t provide an inside look at how B2B brands are approaching social business.

To redress that shortcoming, here is my recent interview with Danna Vetter, VP of Consumer Strategy at Aramark.  Danna does a particularly good job explaining how Aramark moved social from being a tactic to a business strategy.   And by the way, Danna will be presenting next week at the Pivot Conference in NYC.

Drew: First, can you explain to the uninitiated what Aramark does?
ARAMARK provides food, facility, and uniform services for a number of verticals, including sports arenas and stadiums, hospitals, colleges, universities and schools, and businesses around the world.

Drew: What does it mean to become a social business?  
To be a social business, you have to integrate your business processes with social technology. To take that further, one could argue that a truly social business has leveraged social technology, tools and channels to fundamentally change the way they do business.

Drew:  Has Aramark become a “social business?” And if so, can you talk a bit about the journey?
We’re not there yet but we’re working toward it. We’re still early on our journey, but we’ve recognized the importance of getting there and have made some great progress.

The reality was that social was happening all around our company (and with our consumers and clients) whether we were actively involved from a corporate perspective or not. Like most companies, our first steps were removing the fear of social for our executives and business leaders. So we brought the right stakeholders to the table and created the kinds of governance, strategy, and framework to ensure people were actively involved and comfortable with the process. We needed to make sure social was no longer a tactic, but a business strategy.

We trained the organization on the importance of why ARAMARK was leveraging social. And for our active social users, we gave them the proper training and resources to operate within their social strategies. We also created listening frameworks that helped identify, route, and respond to social conversations. This has all helped us limit risk and enable new technologies that we needed to be using.  And by creating a connected environment, it also set up our employees to communicate and collaborate in ways that they weren’t before.

Drew:  Where in the organization did the impetus to become a social business come from?
It started with our consumers. The table has been turned and consumers are driving how and where they will be serviced, they expect the companies and brands they interact with to be active in social. To promote, listen and react when they speak up. As a consumer strategy team, we were able to identify this and escalate the need and urgency to take part in these social conversations.

Drew: As VP, Consumer Strategy are you part of the marketing department?  If not, how important is having a broader purview than marketing in order to implement a social business transformation?  
At ARAMARK, marketing lives within each line of business. What’s unique about my team is that we sit in a corporate function that helps accelerate consumer strategies across all of our businesses. This setup allowed for my team to be the catalyst for the social business vision, but we couldn’t do it alone. The reality is that we worked, and continue to work with individuals in all of our businesses and functional areas (including HR, Legal, Corporate Communications, Privacy and others) to move us forward in the journey. This cross-functional team and effort is essential in moving the social business vision forward at a company as large and complex as our organization.

Drew:  Have you been able to link your efforts to become a social business to any tangible goals like customer satisfaction or sales?   
We are still in the beginning of finding ways to link those goals to bottom line results. We have had some great wins in terms of leveraging our listening framework to identify consumer issues and connect them to the right people across the organization – and eventually to solutions. We also have some success in terms of using social channels for marketing and promotions, but we’re often in a situation where we’re trying to connect online promotion with offline action. To be honest, it’s just hard to track that type of interaction. We’re working on it, and I don’t think we’re the only company facing that challenge. Right now, we are trying to focus our active users on building our networks, engaging with our audiences, and listening.

Drew: What advice would give to a friend in your role at another company about the social business journey?
Be patient and stay aware. It is not an overnight project. Just when you feel like you have won over everyone needed, there’s a whole other set of people you have to win over.

Social and digital technologies are making leaps every single day. You need to adapt and evolve what that means for your company as well as your strategies. Make hard decisions and be ready to change them tomorrow.

Finally, find the right people. Every organization has people who are passionate about social media from a personal perspective. Find those people and put them to work.

Teaching Social Business at San Jose State (with IBM)

01/13/12

Ben Franklin’s line, “well done is better than well said,” gets at the very heart of Marketing as Service.  If you want to truly engage your target to the point that they have a genuine desire to do business with you then you have to do something–it can’t be just talk.  A great example of doing something is IBM’s recently announced collaboration with San Jose State University with a program they call The Great Mind Challenge.  This program brings together students, teachers, IBM’ers (as mentors) and local companies that seems to be a win/win/win/win for all involved.

As part of my background research for a story on this program (see FastCompany.com), I interviewed Larry Gee, the SJSU instructor working with IBM to teach “social business” to a select group of undergrads.  I think you’ll find what Gee has to say about this business/academic collaboration quite interesting.

DN: Can you give me a little background on this program from SJSU’s perspective?
SJSU,  College of Business, has always brought innovation to the classroom so students can learn, apply, and differentiate themselves in the business world.   SJSU and IBM has a long relationship over the years.  It is only natural that ideas are bounced back and forth between us;  how we can make a difference when preparing the next generation of leaders.  Bringing social business into the classroom was one of those ideas that fit the innovation framework.

DN: Why did SJSU decide to collaborate with IBM on this project?
SJSU, College of Business,  decided to collaborate with IBM on this project because Social Business is a critical skill that students need to have to be competitive in the market place.   Social Business is a transferable skill across multiple disciplines ie business, bio-sciences, engineering, humanity & arts, etc.  Students worked on a real business problem, real time, to learn and apply social business tools and processes.

DN: Do you have collaborations with other large corporations?
Yes, we have collaborated with other large corporations such as Cisco, Google, Microsoft to name a few.

DN: If you were talking to another educator at a different university who was considering a similar collaboration, what advice would you give them?
My advice:  1) Identify key social business partner asap.  This is critical because a real life component is needed to reinforce key concept and process.  2)  Plan quickly with a clear course work and administration buy-in roadmap for execution in 60 days.  3)  Execute plan and have class up and running by next term.

DN: How are you evaluating the success of this program?
Students must be able to understand and apply social business tools/process to a real life problem.  The program success is measured on how well students learn, grasp, apply, and demonstrate how social business can be used in a business environment to increase competitive advantage or improve business process cycle time.

DN: How have students responded?
Students response has been great because they have already been exposed and used social media, Facebook, blogs, bookmarks, wiki, to name a few,  basic components of social business, at a very young age.   What is new then?  They are able to build a social business environment using various social media tools they already know and use, but this time, in a business setting.

DN: Can you speak to the advantages of having IBM experts mentor your students?
Certainly.  Having a subject matter experts available to talk, demonstrate, and relate to actual projects are key.   One can read articles and talk about them in class.  But when you are given access to the latest  materials and platform to create a social business environment then this is collaboration at its highest.  Mentor is only a few clicks away to kick around ideas and bring those ideas to reality.  This is where academia  and business intersect.

DN: Is there a risk with a program like this that it will be perceived more as a marketing ploy for IBM than a more company-neutral business course?
I don’t believe the program is a major marketing ploy but rather a  business neutral course because majority of tools and contents used were not IBM but rather current tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Bookmark, wiki, etc.  GBS, IBM Business Partner, provided the real life problem for students to do a deep dive into their social business space.

“Either Write Things Worth Reading or Do Things Worth the Writing”

01/11/12

One of my favorite bits of wisdom from my favorite founding father, Ben Franklin, is:

If you wou’d not be forgotten
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worth reading,
or do things worth the writing.

I believe the folks at IBM are doing a lot of things “worth the writing,” which is why I seem to be writing about them all the time.  That and the fact that they treat me like a journalist by providing access to interesting people within their organization.  One such person is Michael Riegel, VP of Academics & Startups, who provided his insights on a just announced “social business” curriculum they are coordinating with San Jose State University.  As part of something IBM calls The Great Mind Challenge, I believe this is an enlightened example of how companies can do well by doing good.

DN: Please give me a brief description of The Great Mind Challenge?
In 2012′s The Great Mind Challenge, students investigate the emerging sphere of social business using the real-world example of an IBM Business Partner. Working in teams over a period of two months, students conduct a social business assessment of the partner organization, and then build a prototype social business solution based on their recommendations. Students receive education, tuition and mentoring from social business thought leaders, authors, top executives in the social business and of course IBM social business experts. Top-performing teams during the Challenge receive prizes and the potential for internships. The social business skills program with San Jose State University was the first time this challenge was offered in the US. However, globally, over the past several years, The Great Mind Challenge has attracted over 100,000 students and hasn’t only focused on social business skills, IBM is also mentoring students in key areas of technology and engineering including analytics, programming and software development.

DN: What is the primary goal of the collaboration between IBM and SJSU?
IBM and SJSU are collaborating to help students develop market-ready, social business skills. To be successful in today’s business environment, students need to be able to demonstrate that they can turn their personal, social networking savvy skills along with the things they have learned in the classroom, into real-world business solutions. The Great Mind Challenge presents students with an opportunity to develop their collaboration and problem-solving skills while working on exciting, real-world business projects. Students who participate in the Challenge have the opportunity to be recognized for their ideas and talents, while also working to make our planet smarter through the use of social business technology.

DN: Why San Jose State? Does its location in Silicon Valley play some role?
There is a long-standing relationship between IBM and SJSU. Beyond this exceptional relationship, there is so much innovation around social business taking place in the Silicon Valley area. For example, IBM Almaden Research Center, where many of IBM’s social business researchers and consultants are pushing the envelope and helping organizations develop the necessary skills for social business adoption, while breaking down the traditional barriers that might stunt adoption success. With this in mind, SJSU was seen as a logical fit for the pilot of this social business skills challenge.

DN: What was the planning cycle for the collaboration between IBM and SJSU? When did the initial planning start and how has it evolved over time?
Planning for the project with SJSU started in Spring 2011. IBM worked through the summer recess with faculty at SJSU to develop various parts of the social business skills program, including the education (curriculum) and measurement. During the course of the program we fine-tuned the delivery of educational webinars and online feedback sessions with students. As we move into 2012, and expand the social business skills program to include universities across the country, we will continue to modify various aspects of the program to ensure students get as much from this program as they possibly can.

DN: What are the metrics for success for the new IBM/SJSU program from IBM’s perspective?
First and foremost is the delivery of market-facing social business skills. When a student tells us they were able to progress through the interview stages and finally get a job in part because of the social business skills they learnt through The Great Mind Challenge, we take this as validation for this program and IBM’s vision of a Smarter Planet engendered by social business. We also look at the number of students who successfully complete the program and were happy to see that 100% of the SJSU students made it through to the finish line.

DN: The SJSU program involves a number of participants including SJSU faculty/students, IBM employee experts as mentors and business partners as real-life test cases. Can you speak to the challenges of coordinating all these players as well as the benefits of having so many different levels of participation?
We knew at the outset that we wanted the focus for this social business skills challenge to be as rich as possible. Bringing in IBM business partners helps tell a broader story and provides students with the opportunity to explore social business from different angles, different organizations and different business needs. IBM worked closely with SJSU faculty and students to ensure that the training was appropriate and not too “vendor-centric” as to strip it of its application throughout the market. Somewhat fittingly, we don’t feel a program of this scope would have been possible without having social networking tools available, whether it was collaborating on the design of educational materials, or handling project management across businesses and faculty. That’s where IBM’s market leading social business technology created real value for the students.

DN: Since the program includes training on IBM software and promulgates a major IBM initiative (i.e. social business), is there a risk that it might be perceived as one big marketing campaign? Or asked differently, is there a fine line between doing good for the community and doing too much good for the brand?
IBM’s social business vision has a broad scope that goes beyond pure technical adoption. This is one of the messages we are trying to get across with this challenge – social networking can fundamentally change the way businesses operate and create value, but it’s not just about adopting the technology. An organization must create a business culture that fosters transparency, sharing, and trust from its leadership down to those employees out in the field. Throughout the challenge with SJSU, we also encouraged students to explore and consider a variety of social networks inside and outside the firewall. They learned that a social business isn’t just a company with a Facebook page or Twitter presence, it’s about taking advantage of social internally, melding these social networking concepts into traditional business processes to fundamentally change how we do work and create business value. Yes, we did show the students how tools like IBM Connections can be used for social networking within the firewall, but for the continued success of the program, IBM was and is focused on developing and building social business skills that are not exclusive to any one product or technology.

Final note: stay tuned for my related article about “doing well by doing good” and interview with Larry Gee, the professor at San Jose State University who is responsible for teaching the “social business” curriculum discussed above.  And as always, if you found this post of interest, feel free to subscribe to this blog.

Q&A with IBM’s Ethan McCarty, Part 3

09/13/11

I realize this was a long interview and you may be ready for me to move on BUT this last part contains some really smart advice for other companies looking to develop their own Social Business programs.  Also, this interview produced my latest post on FastCompany.com entitled Move Over Social Media; Here Comes Social Business.

Drew: What advice would you give to a B2B company interested in pursing a similar program?  What three things would you say to them?

Ethan: Probably, don’t use the word, “expert.” There are some cultures that are completely allergic to using that word in reference to themselves.

Drew: Makes sense. How did you get this thing up and running?

Ethan: One of the things we’ve done that’s been really helpful is we made sure that we had people from all around the world working on the project. I’m a member of a team we call the Expertise and Eminence Round Table.  It started with six of us just meeting on Friday morning and talking about the work we were doing.  The group represents some people from our hardware group, some from software and others from Services and the CIO office.  They heard about the work that my team and I were doing and they wanted to be apart of the project. We realized we were all managing lists of experts, so we got our lists together. We started with a base population in the Expertise Locator System that’s very diverse so we can learn a lot from that. From there we hit the ground running.

Drew: What else would you advise?

Ethan: We are trying to apply what’s called “agile development” to this system so we put out a new version or update it just about every two weeks. The idea is we try to learn quickly, and if we need to fail quickly, we’re failing quickly.  When stuff doesn’t work, two weeks later we’re changing it.  With Digital systems like the Expertise Locator,  you can’t spend 10 months planning it and then launch it.  From the point when we wanted to get this on ibm.com to the point we had it on ibm.com was four weeks.  It wasn’t a service at that point; it was this manually coded thing. In the next version we had the database set up, and in the next version we had the API described.

It was very iterative; my advice – you really want to get something up that you can start to have people experience quickly.  It’s complicated because people expect [that because] it’s from IBM, surely it’s done when it’s out the door. It would be quite different if this were a product that we’re putting into market, but this is a cultural program, a communications and marketing program.  In that way we have a bit more flexibility to iterate and learn as we go— that would be a very key lesson for anybody who’s going to try to get into this.  You’re talking about working with lots of people, and you can’t predict how people behave. It would be tremendous hubris to say that you could predict how people are going to behave.

Drew: Is there a component of this where the accessibility of these experts is giving away the very expertise that you sell?

Ethan: The interaction that experts have or that people have with IBMers right now through this is pretty light.  It’s not like a free six-month consulting engagement with a team of our principle consultants. I think it’s more of a means to get to know us, and we can help you build your business through that.

Drew:  What’s in it for the expert?  I mean they’ve got their own job.

Ethan: That’s a great question. First of all, there are some IBMers for whom interaction with the public, clients in particular, or prospective employees or whomever, is a facet of their job.  If you’re going to be one of our most eminent technologists, you’d be called a distinguished engineer or maybe you’d be a member of our academy of technology or a master inventor. These people already have it in their job description to interact with clients and prospects, and they’re supposed to be mentoring people. There are all kinds of things that they’re already supposed to be doing and quite directly participating as someone in our Expertise Locator System or participating in social business at IBM would allow them to do that more effectively.  Soon, they will actually be able to track it. You could say, “Look, I showed up on web pages 350,000 times.”

Secondly, these days employees are sort of global capitalists in a way. You’re a citizen of a digitally interconnected globe at this point, and your reputation is everything.  If you cannot manage your reputation— your digital professional reputation— you’re in real trouble. One of the things that we’re building out in social business at IBM is a personal dashboard that starts to show things like how many times you were surfaced and how many times people connect with you. We’re helping to establish each IBMers digital reputation with these tool, and a digital reputation is becoming vital in today’s business world.

Q&A with Ethan McCarty, IBM’s Senior Manager of Digital and Social Strategy

09/11/11

Here is the first part of my interview with Ethan McCarty IBM’s Senior Manager of Digital and Social Strategy.  Its hard not to be impressed with IBM’s approach to social, elevating the discussion from a “nice to have” media component to a “must have” means of doing business.

Drew: Most businesses are trying to get their mind’s wrapped around social media, and you folks are now talking about social business. What’s the difference between those two terms?

Ethan: I think there’s a variety of interpretations for these terms : social media and social business. Social media is typically about mediated experiences with content, and sometimes it’s about dis-inter-mediating the experience. Social media is about media and people, which is one dimension of the overall world of business. With social business you start to look at the way people are interacting in digital experiences and how you can apply the insights derived from all the data and apply them to business processes that may not necessarily be about dissemination of information.

Drew: Tell me about the various dimensions of Social Business, and how companies can deploy it.

Ethan: Social business is about looking at  business processes differently;  from how you are listening to your customers, to how you are engaging with a wide-variety of constituencies. It could be your employees, or it could be potential investors; it could be current investors; it could be prospects for your business.

One of the main dimensions of social business is about managing relationships through these new business processes. Social media is more about disseminating information in new ways, using people as the medium rather than broadcast systems as the medium.  In social business you might be managing community relationships or relationships with individuals; you might be identifying and activating experts or rewarding and recognizing certain kinds of behaviors. And then of course another really important dimension of social business is collaboration. I think that is beyond the thought of social media because it’s not always about creating an information document.  It could be things like collaborative editing, but it could also be file sharing or expertise location.

There are things in the realm of social business that are more about working to improve the efficiency of teams as opposed to just getting a message out there, which I think a lot of the initial social media really were about. Social business is sort of a super-set of social media. Social media is one component of social business.

Drew: Is social business a mind set or a skill set? Or is it a product?

Ethan: All of the above. There are certainly products that enhance an organization’s ability to become a social business. For example, IBM offers a platform of products that enable social business – wikis, blogs, communities, instant messaging, etc. Beyond these products, and really in order to implement and adopt them successfully, social business has to be move than just a mindset, it has to be an organization’s cultural priority. Leaders have to be committed to making significant business process changes in order to actually make work getting done easier and more efficient. We have at IBM a social business management council that  includes some very high-ranking IBM executives, IBMers in the CIO office, in HR, etc., [and] we perform risk analyses and opportunities analyses to help us establish new modes of work. One of the efforts that I’m leading with an IBM HR leader is to look at how we’re going to formalize these new modes of work into our skills at IBM. Social business at IBM is a priority, we’re constantly fine tuning our processes to better serve our customers, partners and ourselves.

Social business is a pretty broad thing, and it includes skills that aren’t necessarily obvious to every employee.  Also there’s a broad area of policy development that we, as an industry, need to do. If you think about how many relationships between an enterprise’s employee base and those with whom they are supposed to be working have been mediated and controlled by processes that are not necessarily enabled by the most contemporary social business approaches, you’ll see the world has a lot of work to do in this area. That is, to me, very promising.

Drew: How is Social Business being integrated into IBM’s business model?

Ethan: There are a couple major concepts that we’re currently working on. One is acknowledging that social, digital activity is moving from the periphery to the center of business. And to me, that’s a big part of what social business is. It’s the transition of all the interesting and fun social activity that’s taken place in the commercial domain is becoming increasingly applicable to enterprises, and how enterprises get work done; how enterprises manage relationships with their clients; how employees work together. That’s a significant change in business.  Social, digital activity and experiences are no longer a frivolous, nebbishy thing for teenagers and college students. Enterprises are realizing the power of these tools to transform there business.

IBM’s a great example of this social business transformation; a lot of our work is done using digital, collaborative means. Consider this, I’ve got eight people on my core team, and, not one of us lives in the same city, and many of us are in different time zones.  I work with IBMers in Australia and California and Michigan and all around the Tri-State area, and we’re doing all kinds of great work together, every day. It’s asynchronous; it’s collaborative. The way we work together is digital and a lot of it this work and collaboration is not happening over email.  Email is a very limited tool, and in some ways completely antisocial.  It does a lot of things to silo the work efforts. Instead of email, we’re using social tools – file sharing, video conferencing, wikis, communities, instant messaging, etc – to get our jobs done.

FYI, you can follow Ethan on Twitter @ethanmcc.

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