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Neil Davey

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News: Lessons from IBM in going social

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With the latest IDC figures predicting that the social enterprise market will reach $200 billion by 2013, it looks like social is set to become an increasingly important part of your business, according to IBM‘s vice president of social business evangelism and sales.

Speaking at the Social Business Strategy Summit in London yesterday, Sandy Carter said that 4000,000 ‘IBMers’ were now using social media within the business.
 
In terms of the high tech giant’s social strategy, the focus was on everything from goals and culture to engagement, processes, reputation design, and analysis. “When IBM set out to be a social business, we looked at the type of things in the business we wanted to impact,” she said.
 
First of all, the company evaluated its goals and culture on both an internal and external basis, creating the IBM ‘digital council’ to act as a key driver of culture. 
 
But Carter believes that this culture starts firmly at the top: companies need strong leadership in order to ensure that social media is adopted throughout the organisation. “Do not underestimate the power of culture and leadership,” she warned . “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”
 
Turning to engagement, Carter said: “Engagement is about moving someone from being a spectator to being a participant, both internally and externally.” In order to try and achieve this, IBM is using gaming technology externally for interaction with clients and inside the company to incentivise ‘IBMers’ with virtual rewards.
 
But Carter also pointed out that it was necessary to embed social concepts into business processes and daily workflow-based activities to ensure that they were embraced as part of employees’ day-to-day working lives. “Embed it into everything you do. Social allows you to ‘listen in’ on what’s going on in the marketplace and provides real ROI,” she said.
 
One of the key reasons that companies are often reluctant to implement social techniques, however, is that they feel they are too risky and are worried what their employees will say. But this is where a disaster recovery plan comes in. The idea is to be proactive, fast and transparent and ensure that the dialogue is a two-way process.
 
Finally, the use of analytics is crucial in order to measure what success looks like and whether the organisation has achieved it.  “Measure, measure and measure again,” Carter said.
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Neil Davey

Senior Content Manager

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