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Flattening the World

Businesses Adopt Social Tools to Improve Effectiveness and Efficiency

Sandy Carter’s job as social business evangelist is to help teach IBM’s clients about the value of adopting social networking into their business models.
Photography by Matt Carr

A Social Business

How businesses apply social tools and techniques varies. Some use Facebook or Twitter; others use products such as IBM Connections. Regardless of the tools used, these social businesses share three important characteristics:

  1. They open dialogue with employees and/or customers.

  2. They are more transparent, sharing information at the same pace both within and outside their companies.

  3. They are more nimble because they understand via social analytics what’s happening to their organizations and are able to change and adapt quickly.

On the surface, most people think about social media and business in terms of marketing or communications, but a true social business applies social media to other areas as well. “Think beyond that,” Carter says. “How do you apply social to your customer service process? Maybe using social analytics to supply your customer service reps with information about your customers or your potential customers that you didn’t have before.

“Or apply social to HR and talent management. How do you recruit the best talent? Look at using LinkedIn or other tools to get great talent to come in or retain talent by doing sentiment analysis of how your employees feel every day,” she continues.

A social business applies those tools and techniques to every process—supply chain, HR, sales, marketing—to become more effective and efficient.

Carter cites IBM as an example of a company that has successfully done this. Social profiling is used to help IBMers find other specialists outside their areas of expertise, for example. IBMers also regularly participate in conversations using social tools.

Recently, Carter was unexpectedly called in to meet with a client’s chief HR officer. Before the meeting, she wanted to see who else had spoken with that particular customer. She also wanted to review the latest study on HR. Carter was in transit when she found out about the meeting but used social connections on her smartphone to conduct research and was prepared when she walked into the room.

“We’ve essentially embedded social in everything we do,” she adds. To learn more about social business and IBM, see Over-the-Fence Conversations.

Evelyn Hoover is the content director of IBM Systems magazine. She can be reached at



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