Social business requires a holistic point of view

Here’s a visual containing the core elements of designing for social business.

Social Business Design

(click on the image for a larger version)

Social business is driven by an integrated vision, grounded in a company’s business needs, capabilities and processes, and constituent met and unmet needs.

This vision must take current market considerations into account, given trends in technology, society, and the workplace.

With those in mind, effective strategy and tactics can be formulated and activated to connect the key elements of an enterprise’s value chain: end consumers, business partners, and employees. (The most common digital interfaces to these groups are internet, extranet, and intranet.)

The composite is a company’s social business design.

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  1. Hi Peter,

    I hope you are well!

    I really like this overview and agree that this is the direction businesses need to move towards. As you know, I focus on customer-centric business. I am not sure if your integration is in any particular order, but from the perspective of being customer-centric (integration’s roots), I would absolutely separate customers from employers and list customers before business and employee needs (in the integrated section).

    You know this but, for the sake of conversation… 😉

    Being customer-centric requires an outside-in perspective (Identify Customer Needs; Develop Solutions; Earn Revenues & Profits. In that order).

    Only by satisfying customers can a company sustain operations that employ people. Putting business needs first (inside-out: Products/Services; Revenue & Profit Goals; Find Customers to Fulfill Goals) really limits a company’s ability to be agile and nimble when it comes to identifying trends, co-creating and–most importantly–adapting.

    In his book, Reorganize for Resilience (highly recommend this one if you haven’t read it), Ranjay Gulati identified that “customer-driven companies were significantly more successful than shareholder-driven ones, providing a 36 percent advantage in shareholder returns, compared with their industry median; shareholder-aligned organizations provided only a 17 percent advantage.”

    What company would say no to that? And yet, they do. Every day.

    We have seen the success of companies like Zappos, Amazon, USAA, Starbucks, IBM, Cisco, etc. who all started small, but more importantly, built their business with their customers at the core. It’s not easy to do, but when it’s done the results can be phenomenal.

    Looking forward to seeing more content in this area.

    Beth Harte

  2. Kerry Bodine from Forrester recently wrote a great, short piece on the “Customer Experience Ecosystem” which offers a wonderful organic metaphor for business & customer service:

    @Beth You make excellent points. We could say that “social business” is actually just customer-centric business: customers are in the online social arena, so businesses go there to engage with them. I like to make the point that “social business” is really just “people-centric” business:

  3. @Beth – Good to hear from you. I agree with you, customer-centricity at scale is usually just lip service.

    @EphraimmJF – many times, I feel people-centric often overlooks the internal/employee side of things. Makes some sense for marketers, but thinking holistically is key. Good stuff in your link.

  4. Peter, I think part of the challenge is that larger companies think they *are* customer-centric. They are not. They confuse it with customer service or customer experience. There are maybe 30 large brands globally that are truly customer-centric and making the revenue numbers I mentioned. So, yes, it becomes lip-service for the rest.

    Ephraim, social business and customer-centric are two different things. A company can be social and still not be customer-centric (or vice versa). As well, a customer-centric company doesn’t really need social media (it’s a nice to have) because they have been “social” (i.e. engaged) with their customers for years. Social media isn’t an “ah, ha!” for them. It’s more of a “been there, done that.” 😉 Looking forward to checking out your blog! It’s nice to meet you.


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