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New IBM Study Reveals 3 Key Characteristics of the Most Successful Companies

Written with Shay Moser.

Is your business a pacesetter, follower, or dabbler? If you're on Facebook, this probably sounds like one of BuzzFeed's personality quizzes. It’s actually part of the latest IBM Tech Trends study, “Raising the Game.” IBM evaluated the adoption landscape of four key technologies in the enterprise: big data and analytics, cloud, mobile and social, and compared today’s adoption with 2012’s between what they called “pacesetters” and “dabblers.”

The fourth annual report says pacesetters are those who think these technologies are critical to their business success and adopt them before the competition. Followers see these technologies as strategically important but “generally trail pacesetters in adoption,” while dabblers are “behind, or at best, on par with competitors in terms of adoption, and their use of these technologies tends to be less strategic.”

I was privy to these business qualities at the launch of the 2014 report results Aug. 21 in New York. I put the event on my calendar as soon as I received a personal invitation from Sandy Carter, IBM’s General Manager Ecosystem Development and Social Business Evangelist. It was a terrific event that I was very honored and stimulated to be included in such company. 

When I joined the 17 other roundtable attendees, including leaders of major brands, universities, and startups, we spent time sharing insights and thoughts around the key findings. The one I tweeted immediately following the roundtable: social business adoption among pacesetters is up 106 percent since 2012. There was also a lot of discussion about other qualities that set pacesetters apart. Besides the early integration of CAMS (cloud, analytics, mobile, social), they include using “citizen developers” as partners and implementing a strong analytical foundation across business functionalities.

The study found that nearly 90 percent of the more than 1,400 respondents have mature big data and analytics capabilities, while 60 percent plan to increase investment in this area by 10 percent or more over the next two years. 

Additionally, nearly seven out of 10 pacesetter organizations make analytical insights a significant part of their decision-making process.

Other pacesetter moves I found interesting are how they tend to partner more with academia and startups, as well as to be more creative in their partnerships. According to the study, which tapped business decision makers in 15 industries across five continents, 80 percent of organizations are turning to citizen developers to drive innovation. Also, leading organizations are twice as likely to turn to academia for product development 
and 70 percent more likely to engage with startups for execution.

An illustration of both citizen development and partnership collaboration, which IBM has enabled, is the series of apps and integration provided to the city of Honolulu as customer. IBM created a video case study here; you’ll love the city’s CIO, Gordon Bruce.  I like that he notes that the app deployment included a “thank you” for its citizen developers.  And interestingly, there’s a tsunami app (created after the 2011 tsunami).

image via shutterstock

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