IBM are arguably the biggest software name in the social business field, so their recent whitepaper on social business should have been well worth a read. The paper provides an overview of what social business is, at least from the perspective of IBM anyway. As IBM software focuses primarily on collaboration and knowledge management, so to does the IBM exploration of social business.
I’m inclined to think that’s a real pity, as it omits a great deal of good things that organisations could be doing in a social way, whether it’s the idea jams that IBM are famous for, or social performance reviews, crowdfunding (both inside and outside the enterprise) and so on. Indeed, crowdsourcing ideas and providing a monetised prediction market are both things that IBM do, and do quite well, so it’s a shame that they’ve largely been omitted from the paper in preference for things that IBM software covers.
The report provides an overview of some of the benefits, but more importantly some of the risks involved in attempting a journey towards social business. It’s nice that they touch on cultural issues in the risk section, and that software is of little use if the culture of the organisation is not conducive to being social.
Alas, this only gets one paragraph in the entire paper, which I can’t help but feel massively undersells this most crucial of issues. You could argue of course that whitepapers are designed by their very nature to wet the appetite before then allowing the sponsoring organisation to up sell consulting services to add meat to the bones. Nevertheless, with estimates that 80% of social business projects failing to deliver results, I think more needs to be done to highlights the crucial cultural and systemic issues that need to be in place for social to really take hold.
Have a look at the IBM paper yourself and see what you think.