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How Social Business Encourages Creativity and Productivity

Illustration by Martin Sati

Culture Shift

The shift to a social business culture is being driven by the business itself, its customers, seasoned employees and new entrants to the workforce. As evidenced, customer expectations have caused many organizations to adopt a social business strategy to improve customer response times.

The organization itself may also be the reason for the shift, as social business enables better information flow so business processes can be completed faster. Take sales, for example. Sales staff armed with smartphones can walk into customer meetings with confidence, knowing they have the ability to access the information to answer clients’ queries and close deals on the spot, says Rob Koplowitz, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research. “Better knowledge means better information,” Koplowitz says. “It means you are better able to decide what to do at a critical point in time.”

“Becoming a social business is important if you want to thrive, not just survive, in this new environment.”
- Matt Ridings

Social business is gaining traction as a business tool not only with millennials and the younger workforce, but also with baby boomers, Koplowitz says. Millennials “really do understand working in this way,” he says. But baby boomers also are behind the move to social. These are highly compensated and highly mobile employees who can “benefit from better access to expertise, better access to knowledge and better access to collective action. All of these things are aided by enterprise social,” Koplowitz explains. The generation that’s just entering the workforce is interested in thinking about work differently and changing the way work gets done, he adds.

Being part of the conversation is just one aspect of social, but it’s often ignored by organizations. Companies reluctant to use social often block access to Facebook through the company’s servers, Richardson says. But these companies don’t take away employees’ iPhones when they walk through the door. Employees are still engaging in social at work, but they’re not doing it through the company network. A social business organization would ask its employees to share ideas with everyone using a company forum so everyone can be part of the conversation. People are being valued now by what they share, according to Richardson.

Breaking Down the Barriers

Social breaks down the barriers to communication and boosts access to information. Access to information is more limited in email than forums, Koplowitz says. Organizations that adopt social can get new employees up to speed faster because they’ve been more effective with capturing information from current employees and sharing it with the new workforce, he says. Sharing via social avenues can also reveal those in the organization who have valuable information.

“Organizations may have identified experts, but may not have taken steps to identify those who aren’t considered experts but who may well have meaningful information to contribute to the organization,” Koplowitz explains. Sharing yields better results overall. “When we act collectively, we get different results than when we act individually,” he adds.

IBM knows this firsthand. Luis Suarez was recognized as an influencer when he decided to stop using email for business communication several years ago and began using social networks, public tools and discussion forums instead. Suarez is now the Lead Social Business Enabler for IBM’s social network and blogs at the website

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at



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