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Does Social Business Need A Make Over?

If you were to ask Chris Heuer, it does! He recently wrote Social Business is Dead! Long Live What’s Next. That is a bit more drastic than a make over, don’t you think? Do we need to take a defibrillator to Social Business or do we need to be more patient? Is it dead? Or are we expecting too much too soon from Social Media, C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Marketers and business in general.

Chris Heuer raised some very valid points in his post about Social Business, most notably senior management do not understand the concept of the Social Business Model, they cannot link the business model to their business or the benefits of the transformational shift needed across their organisation to gain the full benefits of a truly Social Business.

Does Social Business Need A Make Over?

The Socially Enabled Enterprise Whitepaper

I write this post after reading a whitepaper sponsored by Oracle, compiled by Leader Networks and Social Media Today, titled The Socially Enabled Enterprise. The survey for the whitepaper was carried out with 925 Marketing and IT leaders across 500 organisations around the world. The results are very interesting because it proves to me that Social Business is gathering momentum -or Social Enterprise as Oracle would have you call it, same old, same old, just saying…

Social Business, positive sentiment on the increase

The report states “almost unanimously (97%), Marketing and IT leaders reported they believe it will be important for successful companies to transition to becoming socially enabled enterprises.”

What is a socially enabled enterprise or social business? For the purpose of the survey they defined it as the following, “a set of collaborative processes that have the potential to yield improved business processes that are customer-driven such as faster time to market with new products and services, more successful research and development outcomes, and refined market messages that are explicitly influenced by customer needs.”

The research revealed that Marketers and IT leaders share an appetite for investing in social technology and services. Over the next 12 months:

  • Eight in 10 companies believe their investment in social platforms will increase.
  • More than half of both IT and Marketing respondents anticipate their departments will grow in terms of headcount.
  • Both Marketing and IT recognize the need to gain new skills for themselves and hire for new skill sets.

Oh Really!

The figures above prove that IT and Marketing departments are adopting social. All three bulleted points from the report show that the adoption process is underway with companies but I do not believe the penny has dropped. This is where the confusion around social business kicks in – the model requires the entire company to be involved.

Re-read the definition above. Social Business has to be cross functional and collaborative. It is not the preserve of IT or Marketing. If companies develop a good strategy before attempting to implement the tactical aspect, then they have a chance of reaping the promise of the Social Business Model.

In his post Chris Heuer points out that senior management are confused about Social Business/Social Enterprise Model. At the Ahain Group we are finding something similar. Management do understand when we explain the model, so where does the confusion kick in?

Disruptive Business Model

The Social Business Model is disruptive just like the social technologies that aid in its implementation and this frightens senior management whose age profile are not using social technologies on a daily basis. To me this is where the confusion kicks in, yes on an intellectual level they accept the theory of the model but….

How will this be overcome? Case studies, examples, building a track record, time. There are a lot of moving parts to Social Business as it has to be an holistic, silo busting, cross functional strategy and it will take at least 12 months before you will see sustained  results, ah-ahh! 

“12 MONTHS, YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING. Can we not run some tactics on Facebook or Twitter or the worst, can we not create a video for YouTube that will go viral?” NO YOU CAN’T. You have to start with a researched strategy based on the business objective, staying true to the company’s ethos and principals. Now you can see where the difficulty, the confusion, the fear, the mistrust, the doubt comes fromSix months into the twelve months, management start to get restless, lots of money invested and despite the warnings, results are slow in coming, doubts start to raise their head, which is very understandable.


To me the Social Business model is still very new, it is asking a lot of questions of management; management that are already busy with day to day duties. What is needed is patience, resources are thin on the ground, new skill sets are needed but most of all time and belief are needed. Is the term “Social Business” the correct one? I am not sure it is but the business model it promotes is the way forward in the Digital economy.

Thanks to all at Oracle, Leader Networks and Social Media Today for their hard work compiling The Socially Enabled Enterprise Whitepaper which I quoted in this post.

Images: ”Social Business  /


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Co-Founder at the Ahain Group. The first blogger to name the MDEC Model. A social business enthusiast and looking to learn something new every day. Which is not difficult to find online. Keen golfer and Munster Rugby supporter.

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  • Social business is about transformational business and there lies the problem.

    While a strategy is critical, it’s goes well beyond that. Currently, there is no poster child for social business but there are green shoots all around us. Fundamentally it’s about people and information rather than technology and the challenge is great because the social business model threatens to disrupt the hierarchical nature of power within organisations, and make both customers and employees real stakeholders in decision making.

  • I agree with you,patience and right use of resources are the most important in reaching your goals in social business. Social Media is not dead, it would be very powerful tool if you know how to use it the right way to make your business stand our from the crowd.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

    Perhaps the challenge to understand how social business fits in is that it is less transactional and more relational. Plus, who are the people that are willing to have a relationship with a particular company? And then there is the part where anyone from the company can be the face/voice of the company. It requires the executive team to really live and communicate the vision and mission of the company. Otherwise, there is the danger of just creating noise.

  • I agree Niall, it is all about people and making people stakeholders and decision makers. Thanks for you comment.

  • Thank you for your comment Barbara, Social Media is alive and well, disrupting business and business verticals with gay abandonment. Social Business as Niall Devitt points out below has no clear poster boy/business which people point to. I do believe Burberry is a great example. Social Business is coming but the C-Suite execs and senior management are worried as it is transformational.

  • Hi Elli and thank you for your comment. The businesses vision and mission has to be included in the original strategy piece before implementation begins. Online should be an extension of what the business has stood for prior to Social, not a replacement for, or a new beginning. The Social business model is an holistic approach with people at its core, no people, no strategy, no online business model worth the cost or effort.

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