If you follow business trends, odds are good that sometime in the past year you've noticed a deluge of articles on the subject of social business. Most people associate the term with businesses' growing use of mainstream social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others – to connect with customers and prospective employees. Online social business news generally aligns with this notion, providing inspirational customer service success stories and tips on how to maximize the potential of the social networking phenomenon.
But social business is actually a much bigger and potentially more impactful concept. Increasingly, governments and businesses are integrating a new breed of enterprise technology that leverages the best of what mainstream social media has to offer and applies it to business roles, processes and outcomes. With these new business tools, organizations are connecting employees, business partners, vendors and customers to each other in new ways.
The results – significantly enhanced collaboration, innovation and problem solving – are helping organizations save time and money, streamline processes, and increase the satisfaction of stakeholders across their ecosystems. To date, the concept has proven so successful that 2012 analyst reports surveying businesses across industries found that 67 percent have implemented some form of corporate-sponsored social software.i
However, since many mainstream social media channels are not yet fully accessible to everyone, similar enterprise technology developed using the social model often creates the same barriers to participation. In a global business economy where organizations routinely interact with people who speak different languages, come from different cultures, have different levels of 'technological literacy' and widely varying physical and cognitive processing abilities, exclusion is not an option.
By definition, social business is people business. As such, it can and should value every voice, which is why IBM set out to enable more inclusive social business. It's an idea that began with the release of Connections 3.01 – which was designed with accessibility in mind from its inception – and continues frame our perspective as we expand and evolve our social enterprise offerings.ii
To help more people understand the importance of inclusive social business, Human Ability and Accessibility Center Web and Social Media Manager Holly Nielsen (link resides outside of ibm.com) and WGBH-NCAM (link resides outside of ibm.com) Media Access Director Larry Goldberg (link resides outside of ibm.com) hit the blogosphere this year. Teaming up with the producers of the IBM Social Business Insights blog, they've written a series of posts that dive deeper into the different aspects of inclusive social business value. Links to each of the posts are listed below. We hope you'll check them out, share them with friends and colleagues, and help us spread the word that 'social' should include everyone.
- IDC Fourth Annual Social Business Survey (2012) (link resides outside of ibm.com)
- Legal disclaimer: The IBM social business portfolio is extensive and includes both new and legacy products. Accessibility levels may vary by product. However, accessibility remains an integral part of the IBM software development process and we strive for greater interoperability levels with each product release.