Tag Archives: ibm

Enabling businesses to go social

For the longest time, I used to think collaboration is same as teamwork and they could both be used inter-changeably. For starters, both stand for “working together”. Also, both involve a bunch of people working together with the intention of getting something done. So, what’s the difference then? Is there really a difference?

Apparently, there is…

Teamwork is an organized division of tasks at hand. It’s when people are structured to work together in a particular manner to accomplish a common goal. This common goal is more important than individual opinions and in most situations, majority counts. The process is a formal one.

Collaboration on the other hand, is a more casual setup. There is no ONE leader. Everyone works in conjunction with another to accomplish a common goal. The process fosters creativity because the goal still needs to be achieved but the onus is on the individual players to share knowledge, understand working patterns and get things to work, while still holding on to individual values and opinions.

Collaboration can sometimes get you better results than a structured team.

So how do you decide which one works for you? Make a call. Assess the risks, look at your end goal, your time-lines and then decide.

Teamwork most likely utilizes proven methods and concepts to fetch results. Structure and discipline will make sure the job gets done on time. But there will most likely be no innovation. If you are trying to come up with something new, go for collaboration. Creative individuals will bring new ideas to the table. The lack of structure may initially account for some additional time to get things moving smoothly, but once the team dynamics are in place, the job will get done, probably much better than what teamwork could have achieved in a similar scenario.

Collaboration today has become fairly straightforward in the workspace given  a) people’s familiarity with the concept of social networking and their ability to utilize their networks to do things or get things done; and   b)the availability of many social and collaboration tools for enterprises in the market.

Social computing gives us a way to tap into each other and bring the combined talent of the network to solve business challenges.

The catch, however, is that using social computing tools at the workplace requires you to change your mindset about how you do your everyday work:    to understand where exactly collaboration and open communication fits in as opposed to the closed avenues of sharing information like emails, memos fliers and files; to utilize the social computing tools to solicit feedback, opinions and inputs from a the larger pool of employees rather than depend on the traditional organizational hierarchy for gathering required data; to accept the fact that none of us is as smart as all of us.

Here’s advice from Sandy Carter, IBM’s VP on how you become a social business:

and here is an example of how CEMEX, a global leader in the building materials industry, went about becoming a social business with the help of IBM social software like Lotus Connections:

“Social” is the future of your business…

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.

Twitter Addict

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.

social enterprise
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 ”

Giving back

There’s been a lot of buzz around the IBM centennial year and rightly so. There aren’t a whole lot of companies out there who can boast of a rich legacy of innovations for a century.. and what better way to celebrate this milestone than engage in something that defines your legacy best: Service!

The opening line of Sam Palmisano’s foreword in “Making the World better” goes: “One simple way to assess the impact of any organization is to answer the question: how is the world different because it existed?”

As a CEO, it is his confidence and belief in the organization he leads, that would give him the courage to openly put forth such a question to general public. He would know that when it comes to IBM, the bullet-list of answers to this question is both impressive and well, endless… with community service probably somewhere at the very top.

It is this legacy of community service that tops IBM’s agenda of celebrations as well. Per StreetTalk, Forbes, as of June 9th, more than half of IBMers worldwide have pledged their time for public service in honor of the centennial.

That was a week before the actual centennial day. I’m sure the numbers will be much higher come June 16th.