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Businesses are getting on the social network bandwagon in a big way: IBM

Businesses are getting on the social network bandwagon in a big way: IBM

Industry giant weighs in on the popularity of social networks and how concepts from the service are entering businesses

Social media are not just personal world, but also for the business one.

That is according to IBM social business and collaboration solutions sales and evangelism VP, Sandy Carter, who is seeing a shift from social media to “social business.”

“The social graph [a term used for a graph that depicts personal relations in the Internet context] is enabling new ways to connect and collaborate,” she said.

Based on recent numbers, Facebook is leading in every market except China, where the social network is virtual unknown due to the government’s filtering through its “Great Firewall of China.”

“In Australia, 49 per cent of people use Facebook,” Carter said.

“Contrary to popular public perception, Twitter in Australia only forms nine per cent of the market.”

Carter sees the IT world being in “the fifth era,” having transitioned from mainframe to departmental, PC, and Internet ages before currently ending up in the social one.

“We are in the era of social business, one that is expected to be worth US$200 billion by 2015,” she said.

Welcome to the social

CEOs these days are “getting social”, with IBM’s survey of corporate leaders finding that 73 per cent view social as the primary channel for engaging with customers within the next five years.

“The top three priorities for CEOs is to engage with customers and individuals, amplify innovation with partnerships, and empowering employees through value,” Carter said.

Adoption of social business is moving fast, according to Carter, with IBM’s Connections social media offering for businesses taking 13 months to reach one million users.

“In comparison, Facebook took 10 months to achieve the same milestone,” she said.

As such, Carter sees social media as no longer simply being a part of the personal world, but also the business world.

“Industry leaders are disrupting their markets with social business,” she said.

The challenge then with social business is to take it “from liking to leading.”

“Activate the workforce to create a smarter one,” Carter said.

“Delight customers by creating exceptional customer experiences.”

While public social networks like Facebook and Twitter are household names, Carter says that internal deployment of social outpaces external deployment.

IBM has been an active player in the space with Connections, its social platform for business which aims to be “more than Facebook for the enterprise.”

“It brings together social networking with social content, as well as social analytics,” Carter said.

IBM has a “social business agenda” that it runs through with its clients, covering such steps as aligning organisational goals and culture, gaining social trust, engaging through experiences, and networking business experiences,

Social growth

The value of social business can already be seen in several areas, with it forming 20 per cent of customer service and helping to increase customer satisfaction.

“Social forms 20 per cent of R&D, helping to reduce time to market and increasing the number of successful innovations,” Carter said.

“In HR and talent management, the 30 per cent share of social business helps increase speed to access knowledge and experts.”

IBM’s push into social business with Connections has meant that eight of the top ten global banks and retailers are using it, along with 12 of the largest telcos and 500 governments covering all G8 nations.

“60 per cent of Fortune 100 companies use IBM social business,” Carter said.

No doubt to strengthen its presence in the social business space, IBM recently announces its intent to acquire Kenexa, currently the only Cloud-based talent management solutions provider.

“They are an industry leader with 25 years experience building teams, transforming organisations and processes,” Carter said.

The attraction for IBM was the company’s blue chip client base that includes over half of the business listed in the Fortune 500, as well as their network of more than 8,900 clients across various industries.

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