Many companies are using or considering social-networking-based solutions for customer support, internal teams, knowledge base management, and other functions. This week, IBM said it will help organizations develop the skills they need for using social networking through new programs, services and partnerships.
The key goals of IBM's efforts are to educate companies on the benefits of social techniques, and to assess ways to overcome barriers to adoption. IBM's offering includes new technical workshops to improve skills, consulting to help foster a business culture for open collaboration and sharing, interactive online courses, live support, and one-on-one guidance from social business experts.
Investing in Social Networking
In June, the IDC Group ranked IBM as first in market share for social platform in 2009 and 2010, which was the second year the company received that distinction.
IBM social software includes IBM Connections, either on-site or hosted, to provide communities, forums, wikis, blogs, and social analytics, as well as adaptations of Lotus Notes for the Web or devices.
In a survey conducted by IBM last year among more than 3,000 CIOs in 71 countries, 55 percent of respondents said they planned to invest in social networking and collaboration-based software, as a way to increase their competitiveness. Seventy-seven percent said they wanted to change internal collaboration processes over the next three to five years.
The offered consulting services, through the company's Global Business Services, are intended to help businesses understand how the use of social business tools can help them meet their goals, as well as the resulting challenges. As an example, the company created in 2005 a set of guidelines for employees who wanted to blog. The guidelines were revised in 2008 and 2010, and IBM is including the development of internal guidelines for social business as one of the areas where it can help other companies.
'People Don't Do Business with Companies'
An IBM social business adoption workshop, developed with the Dachis Group, is designed to facilitate rapid adoption. In the mentorship programs, participants are shown how to become effective community managers, which has been identified as the fastest growing role in social business, and how to increase employee engagement in such communities.
The technical programs include assessment exams and training resources for day-to-day tasks associated with social software, and the Social Business Agenda workshops on IBM PartnerWorld offer discussion forums.
"People don't do business with companies," IBM says on the Social Business section of its corporate Web site. "People do business with people." Social media has become a major part of many companies' approach to their customers and to internal collaboration, and a variety of vendors are employing socially based, business-targeted solutions.
Salesforce.com, for instance, has redefined itself as a leader in the social enterprise, and has woven social networking tools and monitoring throughout its products. Similarly, SAP has described its Sales OnDemand package as "Facebook for the enterprise," and Microsoft, Google, and a range of other companies are racing to create ways for businesses to realize and use the benefits of social networking.