Back in January we predicted (Sleeping giant – Social Business stirs in 2012) that 2012 would be the year that the power of social and business, or social business, became apparent to a far wider enterprise audience, perhaps what you might call the 2nd wave. While flicking through my Zite reader this week I think that time has now come, and here are just 4 of the articles which jumped out at me as signifying that milestone.

1. Talent doesn’t want you – Hays

Firstly the report by global recruiting firm Hays that their latest Tomorrow’s Workforce report for Australia found that one in five potential employees would not accept an offer from a firm which did not allow them to access social media at work.

Given that we have major firms like the banks which ban access to social media, and many conservative mining and engineering construction firms as well, then this wipes out their access to 1/5 of recruits at a time of a shortage of the people they need. On the other hand, huge companies like Rio Tinto have used social media and related enterprise social technologies to attract and retain talent and that gives them an undoubted edge. (Ironically many of those same large firms, like the ANZ Bank, are heavily involved in recruiting using social technologies, which poses quite a high risk of employee disillusionment.)

2. Intel makes hay

Secondly this short account by Intel’s Kip Silverman of how Intel has evolved their use of enterprise social networks. Intel began small with employee blogs and over three years extended their enterprise social adoption into new areas like crowdsourced problem solving. That’s real stuff by a serious and a seriously big company to gain competitive advantage.

3. Topshop’s unstoppable global retail demand

Thirdly, Topshop‘s use of social isn’t exactly enterprise social but it shows the power of social technologies to be successful while those around you are failing. Australian retail is in dire straits with profit downgrades and job cuts and even those in leadership roles blaming the Internet. Meanwhile Topshop has sold out of lines before they even leave the catwalk, and is opening retail shops in Australia to full houses of buyers. Not only is Topshop running fashion shows in London with two million viewers tuning in on Facebook from more than 100 countries to see their latest collection but

in addition to being an instant virtual shop, social media provides brands with a longer lasting forum for the online fashion communities keen to discuss every aspect of a collection”, according to Lucy Yeomans, editor-in-chief of fashion retail site

Top Shop literally lets you buy the shirt off the models back, while downloading the music she’s walking too and getting the make-up tips on her look – comment on Facebook.

Why can’t that be done from Australia, instead of the retailer leaders lamenting online retail? By selling out way ahead of production Topshop creates negative working capital – a feat mastered by Dell. Topshop earns interest on its customers’ funds while on the other hand our local retailers blow out their working capital on stagnant stock that only moves when heavily discounted. The massive financial advantage accrues to Topshop because of its strategic use of social across its business. Who’s worried now about “brand risk” and what people “might say” on Twitter?

4. Kodak builds equity – a phoenix rising from the ashes through social

Finally Kodak’s Social Media Success—and What Bloggers Can Learn From It is a detailed account of a well thought through strategy to support the “4 Es of Kodak”: Engage, Educate, Excite and Evangelize. Although Kodak is usually used as an example of a company which failed to innovate in tune with the times this article shows how equity is built and maintained through social technologies and an effective social business strategy. It’s evident that social business will play a very significant role in the re-invention of Kodak.

How are you not excited?

In summary, given that we are at the intersection of social, mobile and cloud and their inevitable transformational impact on business the current momentum to understand and effectively deploy social enterprise tools and methods is only going to accelerate. The four articles are exiting and real social business examples, but just the tip of the iceberg. That’s why I dare you NOT to be excited!

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PS Just for fun I’ve added below the social media mentions for Topshop over the last 30 days – you can see the phenomenal coverage and what is unusual is the very high numbers of blogs and forums mentioning Topshop. Those blog and forum mentions have a much longer half-life than Twitter mentions and all translate into lower cost of sales, more sales, and solid advocacy.

Topshot in Social Media 30 days to 21 September 2012

Topshop in Social Media 30 days to 21 September 2012