Like it or not (er, no pun intended), The social media giant is here to stay. So why not use Facebook to optimize your business?
It’s easy to see how social technology is transforming our personal lives. In many ways, we have less privacy, we know more about our neighbors and family than ever before, and we get all of our information in real time. In the context of our personal lives, these things are sometimes considered to be negative. Do we really want to know what our friends are thinking at every moment of the day? But when you take these transformations and apply them to the business world, you see a much different reaction: who wouldn’t want to know more about their business, their employees, or their CEO, and who wouldn’t want to get that information with enough time to use it to make better business decisions?
To illustrate the potential of social business optimization when I’m speaking to an audience of executives, I sometimes like to hold up an ordinary, everyday object, such as a glass of water, or the remote control I’m using to move from one slide to the next in the presentation, and ask the audience to identify it. Invariably, people will offer a handful of suggestions, including, “A white wireless controller,” “an Apple remote,” “a piece of plastic,” and sometimes someone will say, “A device which controls your Powerpoint slides by matching the frequency of your laptop.” Even on a simple question, people come up with very different answers, some of which are extremely insightful. This variety of perspectives, answers and insights is the heart of what a socially-connected enterprise thrives on: no matter how big your company grows, how many divisions you acquire, how many senior executives enter or exit leadership roles, or how many moving parts you need to coordinate, you should always be able to tap into the knowledge of employees at every level of your company. Th at is the essence of social business optimization, and it’s something that is empowering businesses to make better decisions for their companies right now.
The social consumer may be interested in sharing and commenting on family photos, but the social business is interested in sharing information that leads to better business alignment and fewer knowledge gaps.
To understand what a social enterprise should look like, it helps to understand the appeal of social networking applications like Facebook or Twitter. The core appeal of social apps is that they let people participate in a discussion, and they provide a structure that puts the conversation in relevant context.
This also applies to more specialized social utilities like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or even Wikipedia, which create immensely valuable content based on power users who take time out of their busy schedules to write articles that will be read by anonymous strangers – a phenomenon that plays on what Paul Ford calls the “Why wasn’t I consulted?” factor. It’s not unrealistic to say that if we consulted the people inside our business the way we consult with external consultants, and provided them a real forum to contribute and collaborate on issues that matter to their workplace, they’ll get glued to it in the same way they’re glued to Facebook – not only to make their contributions but to check up on everyone else’s. Social business optimization soft ware is able to channel this same creative, collaborative energy we see on social networks toward accomplishing business goals, and it’s able to render complex and potentially overwhelming business factors into comprehensible and actionable information. Here’s how it works, and here’s why the company I founded is called 9Lenses. To move toward social business optimization, you need at least three things:
(1) a social discovery application that lets you take the pulse of your employees; (2) an analytics layer that lets you understand the results of your findings; and (3) a platform that addresses the nine key aspects of your business.
In fact, before it was a software application, 9Lenses started as a framework that was adopted by the George Mason University School of Management to help business stakeholders to understand how their actions relate meaningfully to everyone else’s in a company. The lenses are nine functional areas that every business considers on a daily basis: its market, its people, its finances, its strategy, its operations, its execution, its expectations, its governance, and its legal entity.
In our personal lives, it’s easy to justify protecting our privacy and to resist the openness of social networks. But for businesses, it’s just as easy to see the benefits to be reaped by greater transparency, greater openness and more knowledge.