Is it a New Social Business – or an evolved Business?

It is certainly quite interesting to hear people discuss “The Social Business” as if it was a brand-new invention, something that we never thought of before.  These are the same people that are claiming that now the customer is in control and we have to turn our businesses to them and vow in their general direction each time they exercise use of the megaphone that social networks have placed in their hands.

The concept of social business is not new and it has already been “implemented” by plenty of organizations in history.  The organizations that realized early in their life that being “social”, relating to the customer and giving them what they want and need, has hefty rewards have already been social for quite some time.  Most people would cite here examples like Ritz Carlton, Harley Davidson, and some other beloved brands – and they are right, of course.  Alas, companies like Amazon, that integrated reviews into their business model way before we had social networks of massive consumption, and MMORPG and MPORPG, the original social networks, should be mentioned as well.

What is indeed new, and what we need to explore in more depth, is the role that new generations play in the fate of business.  This is not a social revolution as much as it is a social evolution driven by a generational shift.  As we move from Baby Boomers and Generation X into Generation Y and beyond we encounter a different model of thinking and communications – and that is what is different today.  The technology and the networks we are creating, sure – they are new.  However, none of them would’ve amounted to much without the communication style and needs of the new generations they support.  And let us not forget the globalization of our world – another core component of this cycle.

We need to explore and determine better not whether organizations should embrace this new (r)evolution (I prefer to call it evolution, as business is constantly evolving and this is our next destination) but rather how they will change their hierarchies, processes, and communication styles to support it.  We have to bring together customers, suppliers, and partners into collaboratively creating better end-to-end business processes to fulfill needs for both the organization and the customers (after all, we did say collaboration – right?).

We need to remodel our organizations to support this collaboration models, and change the culture to embrace the value it brings to both customers and workers.  It is this value that becomes the return-on-investment that justifies the continuation of the model.  This is not a discussion of tools (only), or culture (only), or even processes (alone).  We are talking about the intersection of these three worlds and how we can work better together to create the evolved business model that will sustain us until the next evolution happens.

Let’s start the discussion and discovery — together…

This is a submission I made to participate in Social Business Edge – Stowe Boyd’s social business event.  I thought that in addition to it I would bring the conversation to the blog, get your input on whether I am going in the right direction or not — what are your thoughts?