Social Business Is Guacamole

To me, social media is like an avocado: it is tougher to grow than you might think, its awesomeness is not readily apparent from the outside, and though it starts out really hard, if you wait too long it will go bad before you know it. Furthermore, like an avocado, social media is fine on its own but achieves its true glory (i.e., guacamole) when mixed with other ingredients.

So when the folks at IBM shared their latest research on CEOs’ growing interest in social, all I could think about was avocados. No, really. It wasn’t a pretty picture: unripe avocados in impatient hands trying to wring ROI out of unforgiving pulp. Fortunately for this analogy, after interviewing Jeff Schick, VP of social business at IBM, I’m now convinced that social business is glorious guacamole -- and here are six tasty reasons why.

1. It takes something that is good and transforms it into something amazing



Social media in its raw form helps companies become better listeners. Social business, explains Schick, “fundamentally changes how companies do business, whether it’s how they develop products and bring them to market, how employees collaborate or how they interact with business partners and customers.”

2. It’s a good idea to spread it around

The utensils of social media tend to be concentrated in the hands of a select few, usually the marketing team. Social business, by definition, requires spreading the wealth. Coaches Schick: “To realize the full potential of a social business, leaders need to empower a company’s most vital asset -- the information being generated from its people.”

3. You can always spice it up

While CEOs are mildly excited about the impact of social media on their bottom line, they can kick it up a notch by considering social business. To make this proposition more enticing, IBM spiced up their Connections social software platform last week so that it now “includes a revamped activity stream for a consolidated social dashboard and integration with enterprise email and calendar tools.”

4. Sometimes you just have to dig in to find the good stuff

With social media, it is easy to get caught up in the superficial data like the size of your social footprint. Social business, on the other hand, requires more significant analytics and a deeper dive into data. Reports Schick: “Social analytics help surface the most important information at the right time to help drive innovation, decision-making and knowledge sharing.”

5. If you want to take it to go, it’s best to juice it up

Adding mobile to social has not been without its challenges for most companies, which is why IBM hopes to juice things up with their IBM Connections platform. Confirms Schick: “The goal is to enable the mobile workforce beyond just gaining access to email and calendars… to enable them to collaborate and generate new ideas and be more efficient any time, anywhere, on any device.”

6. It brings something unique to the table

Social media on its own is pretty darn great -- especially when you mix in active listening, customer service, research and the occasional marketing message. Social business, counsels Schick, “can transform business processes. LeasePlan, a leading vehicle leasing company and IBM client, is now using “their internal social network to allow employees to find experts faster, leading to better customer service.”

Full Disclosure: I absolutely love guacamole AND avocados, which I first discovered on a ranch with family friends at the ripe old age of five. Since then it has been a bit of an obsession, so my apologies if I pushed this analogy beyond good taste. For a full dish of Jeff Schick's sound bites, please sample it on my blog. Finally, if you have a favorite spot for guac, please let me know.


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