The last couple of decades saw the ascent and peak of Web 2.0. It was the beginning of the era of Collaboration. People crossed all barriers of time, geography and culture and were connected to each other by common interests. People networks flourished on the internet in a never-seen-before way.
Anything that let people connect and communicate was in. The “Social” trend was born. Interesting statistics emerged about how people used their people network and social connections to gain information which was of direct value to them. Online reputations took precedence in decision making and forming opinions.
Businesses and enterprises soon realized the vast potential that could be leveraged off of this new phenomenon. When people discussed what they liked and what they did not, it was an opportunity for identifying Market Trends and Business Opportunities. By penetrating into people’s networks and becoming a part of people’s connections… by understanding their needs, making people aware of what they had to offer, why they were better and by managing good online reputations, businesses secured a loyal customer-base.
What started off as a trend is pretty much way of life for businesses now. Enterprises, however big or small, invest millions to put their best social foot forward. Direct interactions with customers to understand what they need and with business partners to better enable them have proven to be the key differentiators in the market today. According to the IBM 2011 CEO study, getting closer to customers was CEOs’ overwhelming top priority.
Obviously, this is taking it a bit too far.. but if done right, highly networked social enterprises are 50% more likely to be profit-consolidators in their industries. In addition to their customers and business partners, providing a social collaboration platform for their employees to share and brainstorm ideas enables more fluid information flows, helps deploy talent more flexibly to deal with problems, and allows employees lower in the corporate hierarchy to make decisions.
The seriousness of it all can be gauged by the fact that social strategy organizations like Social Business Index, which ranks/scores the social performance of top global companies and provides analytics and competitive intelligence to improve social media performance has most stalwart organizations like Google, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Levi’s, Dell, Target, and even IBM listed on their site.
Social is indeed the future of all businesses. It has the potential to generate this vast amount of data to augment what’s already out there in the web. It is time to make sense of all that data. According to TheNextWeb, “That treasure trove of data and potential insight is ripe for analysis and insight to understand the impact and value of a particular activity. That insight can be immediately acted on to optimize the strategies of a brand because of the unique nature of social’s authentic, two way communication with the market. Not only does this provide the potential for superior marketing results, but creates the opportunity to test many messages with many segments and measure them individually ”