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Over-the-Fence Conversations

IBM Puts Down the Megaphone to Engage Individuals

IBM Puts Down the Megaphone to Engage Individuals

Q. How have the thousands of IBM employees already practicing social business—tweeting, blogging and engaging with people on networking sites—made a difference for your company?
A. It’s made us more customer-focused as well as more effective and efficient. We’ve encouraged all of our employees to become active socially. We were one of the first companies to establish a set of guiding principles for our employees around what to do, how to do it and why to do it—and, of course, things not to do and what to be cautious of.

And IBMers are definitely engaged. Besides Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, we also have people sharing on Tumblr, SlideShare, YouTube and many others. Plus many others are helping to share and distribute content. They’re going onto YouTube and other social venues and finding a really creative video or post and clicking the “share” button or clicking the “like” button or giving a thumbs-up. If you look at that kind of activity as social—and I think we should—there must be hundreds of thousands of employees engaged globally.

We’ve also been able to measure that our efforts have had the positive impact we want them to have both inside and outside IBM. It’s changed the conversation in the marketplace so that people are aware of more information and can make better decisions.

Q. What are the biggest challenges facing social businesses?
A. There are a lot of challenges. One is the noise level. That’s a challenge for everyone. If you look at how many tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, LinkedIn posts and forum Q&As there are—just think about that small set of activity and the noise level is huge. Finding your way through that and having your voice heard is a major challenge for anyone who’s trying to engage socially.

The flip side is trying to do something meaningful with the information. If all that noise is contrary to you getting your point of view shared in a positive way, think about what you do with all that information if you’re in the social-research business. How in the world do you wade through the hundreds of thousands of tweets in a period of time to actually derive if there was anything important that you should pay attention to?

Q. That’s a great question. Is there an answer?
A. Of course, IBM is in the analytics business, so we make software, hardware and services that help people wade through that mass of information.

Tami Deedrick is the former managing editor of IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems edition.



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