Social Business in 2013 – A Commitment

Luis Suarez Social Computing Evangelist, IBM

Posted on January 8th 2013

Social Business in 2013 – A Commitment

La Palma - Roque Los Muchachos (Observatorio)Before we move further on in trying to address the final conclusions I shared on a recent blog post under the heading Social Business in 2013 – A Challenge, I thought I would go ahead commenting further first on that third piece from that recent CMSWire article that I published earlier on, where I talked about perhaps one of the most important, key concepts for Social Business to thrive in 2013 and beyond:

A Commitment. More than anything else, because over the course of the last few months, perhaps couple of years, I have seen very little of it, as I have blogged about a couple of times in articles like Why Social Business Keeps Failing to Deliver or Dear Social Business Evangelist, Where Art Thou? and somehow it’s starting to bring back memories of the same trip that Knowledge Management went through back in the day. About 15 to 18 years ago. Yes, the buzz is there, the hype, too! The selling and marketing of it, but when you are talking about making a commitment, that is, raising the stakes to provoke that profound business transformation we all know it’s fully capable of (about how to make it work), it’s nowhere to be seen. And that’s worrying. Very worrying.

Perhaps we could go ahead and illustrate it with a cartoon from Tom Fishburne (Please do go ahead and read his blog post on the topic, too! It will be worth while a read!) that I am sure you would all agree with me that it would make the point incredibly well. If not, judge for yourselves on what I mean with that keyword of Commitment (With a capital C) and the lack of it in today’s current Social Business landscape:

Just brilliant, don’t you think? I can imagine that at this point in time plenty of you folks out there would be musing about the fact that you may know plenty of firms who would fall under any of those various different strategies except perhaps for the “All too rare” that Tom mentions and that I feel is why we need to raise the stakes on not only what Social Business could do, but what it would eventually need to do! And not just with that flavour of a focus on delighting customers, but with employees and knowledge workers alike! Think about it. When was the last time that you helped your fellow colleague(s) to be more awesome, become smarter than you are at what you do… without asking anything in return? See what I mean?

There are big key words in here at play in this so-called social business transformation that very few people, specially, vendors, have put into practice and perhaps that’s something that we can help them understand when talking about commitment. Concepts like empathy, equity, meritocracy, transparency, openness, authenticity, trust, engagement, participation, constructive feedback / criticism and so forth are still very much missing from vast majority of Social Business vendors out there. And I suspect that customers, whether internal or external, are just about to become really fed up with all of that NOT walking the talk from all of those social business vendors that in most cases are showing how full they are of themselves in any which way and nothing else. Very little substance coming along due to that lack of establishing some serious commitment behind their words on helping their own customers be more awesome

In that CMSWire article I got published by the end of last year I described it in these terms. To quote: 

“And finally, here we are with the commitment. In the quest for most brands to become more open, trustworthy, honest, transparent, interconnected, smarter and authentic, in other words, more engaging with their own customers AND employees, provide better quality service, better products, better customer service, and so forth, in 2013 we are going to see how vendors (and not just for Social Businesses, but everyone who may well be in Sales) are going to make that giant leap of faith and start walking the talk more often.

In the world of Social, 2013 is going to accelerate the transformation of vendors talking one thing and doing a completely different other. It’s no longer going to work that way. Rather the opposite. Businesses, mainly through learning by doing, will be called upon by their customers and especially their very own employees, on the main reasons why they are not walking the talk. Why they are not provoking their own business transformation through social networking when they may well be big advocates themselves of the change?

We are going to witness how trust is going to become more critical than ever, not from the perspective of how you can gain my / our / their trust, but more how you can keep it alive and kicking every single day of the year by starting to put your actions behind your words. Because if you don’t manage to make that happen in an effective and engaging manner, I suspect both customers AND employees will move on.

Brands and businesses will be striving for authenticity, for uniqueness, for what makes them special, [essential] against everyone else. Customers and employees will be striving to belong to those brands and businesses whose commitment is one of wanting to transform themselves into the next generation of how we get work done in the 21st century: sustainable growth.”

That’s the Commitment (with the Capital C) that we are about to see unfold and unleash, both inside and outside of the firewall for most businesses out there. Of particular interest, I would think, would be the bold text highlighting the emphasis on walking the talk, on learning by doing, because we are starting to see, if not already, how businesses who bought into the idea of becoming a Social Business by purchasing some [Perhaps (too) expensive] social software a year or two ago are starting to wonder about what next, because, amongst several other things, it’s just not working! Remember how 70% of the corporate world knowledge workforce is totally disengaged? Or how 7 out of 10 Enterprise 2.0 deployments will fail, according to some piece of research that was conducted last year? Knowledge Management anyone? This is, indeed, when those social business vendors would need to stand out AND deliver. Put their actions behind their words. The smooth talk is way over by now! Not just for their customers, but also for their own employees. Only then will we be capable of talking about Socially Integrated Enterprises thriving to help you become *even* more awesome.

The rest is just a waste of time. And we all know life is just too short to keep wasting along those precious moments, so I would suggest keep pushing not just for your / our customers, but, essentially for *all* of us. We cannot longer afford statements like Social Business / Enterprise 2.0 has been here for over 6 years and we still have yet to witness that true, rather profound, social transformation of today’s corporate world to become tomorrow’s social workplace.

Our workplace. 


Luis Suarez

Social Computing Evangelist, IBM

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