Listening to the Voices of Social Business « A Smarter Planet Blog

Ethan McCarty, Director of Enterprise Social Strategy and Programs, IBM

By Ethan McCarty

The common view in the business world is that social media is simply a fun tool for checking in with friends and family – something that I, and millions of others, enjoy every day. However, this perception sells social media short and ultimately prevents many businesses from harnessing its true potential.

The fact is that the possibilities of social media go well beyond casual use ofFacebook and Pinterest. Its power and influence extend beyond a simple tweet or a pin.

Social media is a force for organizational change and business value. A recent IBM survey found that more companies are tapping into the power of social business. Almost half of the companies surveyed increased their social business investments in 2012.

Companies with the foresight and know-how to apply it thoughtfully, and with rigor, will be the big winners. A great example is social media’s ability to spur the convergence of brand and culture. It encourages people to integrate their personal and professional personae in ways that lead to new and valuable ideas and work – for the individuals and their organizations.

An example of this convergence is a new IBM social website and web service called Voices.  Voices is a real-time data service that showcases live social feeds of IBMers who are experts in big data, mobile, social business, cloud, cognitive computing and much more. But it doesn’t end there. Voices then marries the individuals’ thoughts with IBM’s company feeds (@IBM, @SmarterPlanet, @IBMResearch) etc.), as well as a word cloud that shows visitors what’s trending via data visualization technology originating from IBM Research.

  IBM Has Become a Publisher. Is It Any Good?
IBM has about 433,000 employees. To put things in perspective, that’s more than four times the amount of Microsoft’s workforce and 400,000 more than Google’s. It’s also about 427,000 more than The New York Times Co. has. If you believe that a substantial minority of the public can write reasonably well, then Big Blue has a fair shot at putting out a decent product.
The company has been testing that theory since 2005 or so. At the time, Twitter didn’t yet exist and Facebook was for college kids, so social media was synonymous with blogging. It turned out that many IBMers had the itch to write, which of course was a blessing and a curse to the company. A blessing because — free content! A curse because who knew exactly what these employees were going to actually write? Would consumers take their thoughts as word from IBM on high?
IBM decided on a sort of middle road: It encouraged employees to blog to their heart’s content, but it issues blogging guidelines, so they’d know what they couldn’t blog about. The guidelines, crowdsourced by IBM employees thanks to a wiki created by James Snell, a member of IBM’s software standards strategy group, and Ed Brill, a Lotus exec, draw on common sense (“Don’t pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes,” etc.) and are general enough to be adopted by other companies.
Since 2005, micro-blogging platforms like Facebook and Twitter have changed the medium in which IBM often communicates, but the company remains committed to blogging and is an especially enthusiastic user of Tumblr, though you can find IBMers on Instagram, Pinterest and any other up-and-coming social media site. “We have coverage across all of the social media platforms,” says John Rooney, program manager for innovation and collaboration at IBM. “We are a large content creator. What we are becoming very much is a social media publisher.” Indeed, the company now claims some 32,000 individual blogs from IBMers.

  IBM Has Become a Publisher. Is It Any Good?

IBM has about 433,000 employees. To put things in perspective, that’s more than four times the amount of Microsoft’s workforce and 400,000 more than Google’s. It’s also about 427,000 more than The New York Times Co. has. If you believe that a substantial minority of the public can write reasonably well, then Big Blue has a fair shot at putting out a decent product.

The company has been testing that theory since 2005 or so. At the time, Twitter didn’t yet exist and Facebook was for college kids, so social media was synonymous with blogging. It turned out that many IBMers had the itch to write, which of course was a blessing and a curse to the company. A blessing because — free content! A curse because who knew exactly what these employees were going to actually write? Would consumers take their thoughts as word from IBM on high?

IBM decided on a sort of middle road: It encouraged employees to blog to their heart’s content, but it issues blogging guidelines, so they’d know what they couldn’t blog about. The guidelines, crowdsourced by IBM employees thanks to a wiki created by James Snell, a member of IBM’s software standards strategy group, and Ed Brill, a Lotus exec, draw on common sense (“Don’t pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes,” etc.) and are general enough to be adopted by other companies.

Since 2005, micro-blogging platforms like Facebook and Twitter have changed the medium in which IBM often communicates, but the company remains committed to blogging and is an especially enthusiastic user of Tumblr, though you can find IBMers on Instagram, Pinterest and any other up-and-coming social media site. “We have coverage across all of the social media platforms,” says John Rooney, program manager for innovation and collaboration at IBM. “We are a large content creator. What we are becoming very much is a social media publisher.” Indeed, the company now claims some 32,000 individual blogs from IBMers.

IBM Connections - Android Market
IBM® Connections is social software for business. It enables you to build a network of colleagues and subject matter experts, and then leverage that network to further your business goals. With its integrated suite of tools, you can share and discuss ideas, work collaboratively on presentations or proposals, plan and track project tasks, and much more. IBM Connections is a web application that is deployed on a company intranet to promote collaboration within the company. The IBM Connections mobile application extends access to company data to employees who are on the go.

IBM Connections - Android Market

IBM® Connections is social software for business. It enables you to build a network of colleagues and subject matter experts, and then leverage that network to further your business goals. With its integrated suite of tools, you can share and discuss ideas, work collaboratively on presentations or proposals, plan and track project tasks, and much more. IBM Connections is a web application that is deployed on a company intranet to promote collaboration within the company. The IBM Connections mobile application extends access to company data to employees who are on the go.