According to Gartner, a social organisation is an organisation that handles significant business challenges and opportunities using social media platforms to engage stakeholders, such as employees, customers and suppliers, to work and collaborate together. A social organisation empowers employees, which creates openness, creativity and collaboration. It is all about the people.

One can even boldly state that the transformation to a social organisation is a collaborative revolution that is challenging organisational hierarchies and even exploding barriers between management, employees and customers. It’s a revolutionary change coming from inside of the organisation.

Why become a social business?

Social media applications, such as social networks, are increasingly popular tools for businesses to enable their employees to communicate and collaborate. By opening up the flow of communication, the creation of business value then comes from the “masses” – all employees are empowered to share ideas and opinions – instead of only from a few thinkers in the company.

The key is to engage stakeholders within and outside the company. According to a survey by Gallup 2010 (Employee engagement study, Gallup, 2010), organisations optimising engagement among their employees had 26% higher profit and 85% higher growth compared to their competitors. Further the study also showed that the company’s customers buy more, return more often and stay with the company longer. Engagement creates results!

A survey from AIIM Market Intelligence 2011 showed that the key driver for social business is sourcing and sharing expertise, followed by breaking down geographic and departmental barriers. 38% of the organisations with social collaboration in place report getting information from unexpected places.

Nearly half (48%) of those surveyed responded that they have successfully surfaced major changes to internal processes and more than a third (34%) have come up with major changes to external product offerings. In the report we also see the results when implementing a social collaboration tool for communication between sales and marketing staff.

Before implementing the tool a pre-survey was made in order to measure if the implementation had an effect on collaboration between the two departments. The number of respondents reporting “poor sharing of knowledge and information” drops from 41% of organisations in the pre-survey to 8% and “poor working together” drops from 21% to 4%. McKinsey and Company is also reporting that the revenue growth of social business is 24% higher than less social firms.

Other reasons to develop a social organisation are to receive feedback from your customers about your services and to boost your recruiting efforts. Market leader has been very outspoken about the need for companies to transition into a social enterprise to remain competitive.

Getting started: 4 quick tips to beginning your social business transformation

  1. It is all about people so start by identifying the target group of internal influencers. A true social business starts with the inside of the organisation, the heads and minds of the employees. Get buy in from leaders, key employees and help them understand that their participation is crucial.
  2. Align your company’s transformation with business goals and set benchmarks to measure change within your organisation. But remember: change is a long term process and it might take time to calculate ROI.
  3. A social business is more than a tool – think through your organisation’s challenges and determine what systems, technologies and policies you need in order to succeed. Ask yourself:
  • Do you want to create better team collaboration within the company?
  • Do you want to facilitate collaboration with remote workers?
  • Do you want to receive feedback from your customers?
  • Do you want to boost your recruiting efforts?
  1. When launching any new tool or process, present it as part of your company’s overall strategy. Organisational change can be a challenge for employees and they need to see the bigger picture to understand how social tools fit into their daily work process.