If there is one thing that has become abundantly clear past year, getting business done as we know it today is going through a transformational, “once in a generation” shift.

Powered by open source software and brought to the forefront of our daily lives by social collaboration tools like Twitter and Facebook, we are living through, right now, profound changes in the way companies and customers interact with each other.

We call this the social business, an “always on” dialogue taking place with and around a company using every social collaboration tool imaginable from social network providers like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, Yelp, IBM LotusLive and more.

This social dialogue about your business covers every topic possible. Your new customers are comparing notes with other customers. Your prospects are asking existing customers why they should buy from you and not your competitor. Your employees are discussing with customers on how to improve your business. And of course, your customers are letting you know in no uncertain terms what they think of you and your business.

Paul Greenberg, a luminary in the world of customer relationship management and the author of CRM At the Speed of Light, describes the impact of this very public and very transparent dialogue as putting the customer finally in full control of their relationship with you, their vendor of choice.

Remember, you no longer control the customer experience. Your customers control the customer experience. The Internet is their stage and everybody is their audience. Social collaboration tools make social business happen.

With the evolution of the social business, I clearly see a massive opportunity in front of us to put the focus of the social business on building productive, meaningful relationships that help your customers solve their business problems. Communication and trust are the foundation of a relationship.

Social collaboration tools deliver the communication part of that foundation. But how do you build that trust? That will be the focus of the next article in this blog series.