Social Business isn’t fixing what’s broken; it’s a philosophy focused on new experiences!

I was recently asked “When was the first time you realized you had a passion for social, technology and collaboration and how did that shape your social business experiences?” Now I am 33 years old and remember a time before Myspace and cell phones but this question really got me thinking about what philosophies, technologies and experiences that today makes up my philosophy on social business. Was it using AIM chat or Yahoo forums or maybe it was when I linked TI80 calculators to share notes. I did love using Napster and P2P programs to share files and information even across dial up.

Although these experiences all played a part in growing my passion for technology and communities but my true social business experience started while working on cyber defense contracts with the US government where the need for collaboration and communication tools was essential for deploying, managing and leading enterprise global software deployments.

  • In 2004 I implemented SharePoint, mobile device software and VPN initiatives to be able travel and deploy teams globally.
  • In 2008 I architected Yammer, GoToPC remote desktop support and a learning management solutions to increase collaboration and team support.
  • In 2011 I architected cloud storage, VMware virtual desktops and mobile chat clients to allow teams to work remote.
  • In 2013 I architected a HR tech portal, Jive Social Intranet software, Video conferencing, cloud storage and software solutions that utilized the Google Glass API.

What do these solutions have in common…. They were solutions focused on coping, fixing or replacing a tool or process that was believed to be costing the company money in the hopes of increasing productivity, scale and communication. Fixing people problems like communication, trust and teamwork don’t get solved with an easy button or a software solution.

But if you dive deeper what I was really attempting to implement was a new philosophy around communication behaviors, how we collaborated, the way content was created and establishing an internal communities. So in a sense we were focus on creating a culture built on open, collaborative, trusting conversations but focused more on the technology than the philosophy and people using this technology.

Why are companies still failing to become social businesses after taking steps to create this new culture?

Most forgot two important components of social business transformation. No it’s not SnapChat or twitter. They forgot about the customers and the importance of teaching and implementing change.

A great company culture without customers won’t be a company long

Much like my past experiences we focused solely on our employee culture so they could grow sales and our customers yet, we didn’t increase this collaboration, communication and productivity for our customers.

In a recent Altimeter Group report they stated, “Companies are realizing the importance of creating a unified customer experience that represents the company as a whole.”

As we embrace this new idea that the customers hold the power, we must look at what new experiences this will create. Customer data is more abundant and valuable now as we have the ability like never before to know in real-time what needs to be done to make the customers happy.

  • The Customer Experience is changing.
  • The Modern Buyer can no longer be considered dumb and uninformed.
  • Customer Feedback & Data isn’t just something we want rather it’s the data driving the direction of our business.
  • Talking down or at customers is no longer acceptable.
  • It’s the best because the brand said so is no longer acceptable.
  • Customers want to relate and connect with the people that make up the brand.
  • Customer collaboration includes content, feedback, relationships and two-way real-time communication.

Social Business change requires investment in the digital natives as well as the digitally disconnected

We must stop believing that the “Millennial’s” are the only ones who want to be digitally connected and empowered. Every person with a smartphone, tablet or social network understands the value of engagement and collaboration.

The problem is many cultural transformations and social business solutions focus on forcing change rather than a philosophy that includes those disconnected while teaching new skill sets and leading not just forcing this change.

Social Business Philosophies’ today must scale and be agile enough that they include the digitally disconnected employee as well as the offline customer.

“A social business isn’t about what or how a company is culture changed, it’s about a new philosophy and changing their focus to creating new experiences!”

Originally published at on September 3, 2014.

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