IBM sees social networking capabilities as a massive opportunity that can help organizations transform their business operations. Big Blue this week said it would expand its Social Business Initiative to help organizations tap that opportunity by developing and expanding social networking skills.
"The opportunity to transform into a social business can be stunted without a focus on engagement, culture change and policy," said Alistair Rennie, general manager, Social Business, IBM (NYSE:IBM). "Social technologies, when combined with the right skills and culture, can truly unlock the potential of people within the organization to collaborate, innovate, make smarter business decisions and ultimately drive their bottom line."
According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016 to become a $6.4 billion market, compared with the $600 million market it was last year. A 2011 AIIM survey found that more than 50 percent of user organizations consider becoming a social business to be imperative or significant to their business goals.
According to IBM, social business isn't just about having a Facebook or Twitter account. Big Blue defines social business as using social networking tools to fluently communicate with people inside and outside the organization. It said social businesses share three distinct characteristics:
· They use social networking tools to deeply connect people—including customers, employees and partners—in efficient ways.
· They use social networking tools to remove boundaries to information, experts and assets, helping people align every action to drive business results.
· They use social networking tools to speed up business with information and insight to anticipate and address evolving opportunities.
IBM said it wants to help its clients and business partners develop the skills, technical support and industry resources that will allow them to effectively adopt social networking capabilities. It is planning new technical workshops designed to improve skills, as well as consulting offerings to help develop a business culture that fosters open collaboration and sharing among employees, clients and business partners. Big Blue said a combination of interactive online courses, live support and one-on-one guidance with IBM social business experts will help educate organizations on the ins and outs of applying social networking technologies.
IBM's new social business initiatives include:
· Strategic consulting from IBM Global Business Services to help organizations better understand their current adoption of social business tools and how they can be used to alleviate business challenges
· Global educational mentorship programs for clients and business partners
· Technical certification programs to help customers and business partners validate and demonstrate their skills
· Social Business Agenda Workshops on IBM PartnerWorld
In addition, IBM announced a partnership with The Dachis Group to create a social business adoption quickstart workshop and a collaboration with Group Business Software to help clients convert IBM Lotus Notes applications into applications accessible on the Web or via mobile devices using Group Business Software’s Transformer product.