Customer Services, Product Development and Human Resources can deliver better outcomes for less with social approach to business

Social business is the application of social technologies to the business world. Consumer applications such as Facebook and Twitter have revolutionised the way people communicate and collaborate. Now, the world of business is applying this approach and thinking to improve efficiency, productivity and effectiveness in the workplace.

IBM has identified three business areas that are well-placed to immediately start realising the benefits of social business: Customer Services; Product and Service Development; and Human Resources.

Customer Services operations can benefit from social business by:
· Connecting people – partners, customers, experts, employees – in networks that can drive dialogue and innovation
· Removing boundaries to communication both inside and outside of an organisation
· Gain real-time insight into customer trends and opinions

A recent study from IBM showed that 88% of CEOs felt that getting closer to their customers was a top priority.

“The most efficient way for a business to get closer to its customers and accurately measure their insights is to engage with them socially, and to invite them to participate in conversations with the business,” said Ofer Guetta, Portfolio Manager for Collaboration Solutions at IBM. “By deploying a social business model, customers get better access to experts and internal knowledge, while the business can reduce its external communication costs.”

Product and Service Development processes can be radically improved through social business by:
· Enabling employees to connect and collaborate in the most efficient ways
· Simplifying the process of crowdsourcing and gaining market insight
· Allowing product and service design to reflect the latest customer sentiment

“By simplifying and streamlining the processes of collaboration, and by engaging with real time feedback from customers and external experts, product and service design can become more efficient while ensuring the end result is in tune with the trends in the marketplace,” said Guetta.

Human Resources can show the ROI that investment in social business brings through:
· Reduced employee travel as electronic collaboration is more effective
· Reduced staff training and on-boarding costs – better access to internal knowledge
· Compressing the time spent communicating with employees, and improving the quality of conversations

“The explosive growth of social media shows that people are increasingly wired to use technology to communicate and collaborate in this way,” said Guetta. “The successful business of the near future will be one that harnesses this trend to deliver improvements in products and services, as well as the customer and employee experience. At the same time, it can expect to realise substantial efficiencies in its business.”