Live @ Lotusphere 2011: IBM Senior VP Jon Iwata On Making A Social Business Market
Greetings, Lotuspherians…and those beyond who wish they were here.
After a night of Tweetups and parties and bar talk and heaven only knows what other tidings going on in here in Orlando, it was time to awaken early and get your social business vitamin shot.
IBMs’ Mike Rhodin and Jon Iwata delivered early and often in their opening remarks on Day 2.
Rhodin is Vice President, IBM Industry Solutions, and picked up on a theme he started to deliver in the marketplace at last fall’s IBM Industry Summit in Barcelona.
With a nod to Alister Rennie’s comments from Day 1, he acknowledged that the market is shifting to a new era of social business, and that we heard yesterday from a wide variety of clients about the obstacles and opportunities.
And, more importantly, noted Rhodin, we heard from one another, our fellows in business and industry about the steps we’re taking to build smarter, more social businesses.
Rhodin then encapsulated the challenges and opportunities. The challenges: Information overload (15 petabytes per day and growing), shared complexity (both infrastructure and organizational), and the need to create more shared connections.
The Social Business Opportunity
The opportunity? Social businesses embrace networks of people to create business value, and there are a few key entry points: The need to deepen client relationships, to drive operational efficiencies, and to optimize the workforce.
We’ve all had to focus on getting leaner and meaner these past few years, to the first point. But we can also get new products to market faster, and use the market as a listening and sounding board more effectively.
Most key to social business, we can optimize our workforce by finding ways to extract new value from an increasingly distributed workforce (think globalization), and to do so without impacting productivity (in fact, quite the opposite) and to help our people become more focused on innovation.
Rhodin then posed some provocative questions: What are consumers saying about your business? Are you listening? What about your employee’s digital reputations, which have never been more important?
Did you know 20% of the top search engine queries in the world were now going back to consumer generated content?
Is your organization applying social analytics practices to conduct sophisticated sentiment analysis that can help you understand not only your brand reputation but also help you improve your products?
Then, Rhodin put up a slide that I thought told the entire story in one sweeping motion: The transition from traditional, hierarchical enterprises transitioning to social synergistic ones consisting of vast numbers of communities and a culture of sharing and innovation, which will soon start to separate the leaders from the masses.
It was then that Rhodin introduced IBM senior vice president, Jon Iwata, whom I also had the pleasure to hear speak about IBM’s 100-year legacy last fall in Barcelona.
What’s Past Is Prologue: From “e-business” to “S-business”
Iwata provided another quick flashback, but this time to explain we’ve all been here before. It was 1995, and IBM bought Lotus as the commercialization of the Internet was underway and everyone in the market was talking about browsers and content.
IBM, and then CEO Lou Gerstner, were talking about the potential impact on business, even though to many it appeared IBM had no real involvement with the Internet.
Quite the contrary, and as IBM introduced the idea of “e-business,” it soon became clear Gerstner and others were correct, and the impact on business and organizations around the globe since then has been profound.
We made a market.
And today, Iwata explained, we’ve got another opportunity to lead and to make a new market, and in the process to provide our companies with game-changing capabilities.
Two years ago, IBM started a global conversation about the next era of computing and its impact on society, the “smarter planet.”
We identified three broad trends there: 1) Instrument the world’s systems 2) Interconnect them 3) Make them intelligent
With this strategy, we could start to see for the first time what was happening in key infrastucture: Our energy grids, our supply chains, etc., and we could make them more sustainable and, in a word, smarter.
But, Iwata went on to explain we also saw all the ways people interact would also become smarter, from the interconnectedness using social software to the mobility new devices would bring.
Now, we could connect billions of people, use social analytics to analyze all this new data (including our connections to one another!), and tap into the core human reality that people are inherently social.
Sometimes we work socially in a public way (retail), sometimes in a private, secure way (banking), but we’re all social.
People Working Together Better
Hence, social business, like e-business, is an opportunity to transform the enterprise, the way we work, extract, and create value, and yes, the ways we interact with one another.
IBM’s proof point, Iwata pointed out, was “Generation Open,” our own internal software development community that allows IBMers to develop software of their own choosing, and the reputation monitoring and feedback included to motivate and reward those developers.
The results? Generation Open delivered 160,000 new projects last year, drove down development costs by one-third, and increased asset reuse by 4X.
And that’s what IBM continues to deliver in its market communications: strong, tangible proof points of how social business can deliver real business outcomes.
Take social engagement, for example: There is lots of focus on internal collaboration and expertise sharing, but what about when you go outside the firewall. You may want to designate certain teams to monitor the social media, or provide CRM.
Realistically, Iwata suggested, all of our employees will soon adopt social technologies if they haven’t already.
So, how can we help enable them?
At IBM, we recently launched an enablement program, named aptly enough, “Social Business @ IBM,” which helps increase the social acumen of 400,000+ IBMers, educating them on policies and guidelines, and also enabling them with tools that allows them to monitor their personal networks, participate in key social media vehicles, and the like.
We expect to educate 50,000 IBMers by the end of this year alone, explained Iwata.
This new type of change requires new systems of management and leadership. Traditional vertical functions (sales and marketing, HR, etc.) will require more integration, driven by transparency and the need to have a single view of the customer.
Iwata began his close with a call to action: Those of you who are champions of social media will soon find yourselves becoming an integrating force in your organizations.
Be prepared to help the organization make this disruptive transition, and concurrently, think about how you can leverage secure, scalable technology (including that from IBM) combined with tangible business outcomes and responsible management practices to successfully navigate your way to the new world.
The time to act is now, concluded Iwata, and the way to act is together.
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