Although we’ve only kicked off the new year the mood of this week in social business is something new, and perhaps a landmark or a signal that its time has come in 2012.

The IBM Lotusphere event just wrapping up in Orlando, which combined with the parallel IBM Connect event, produced an unprecedented string of positive news and practical buzz about  social business transformation, and broad social strategy. You can see the key social topics which emanated from the conference below - social business, social enterprise, community, social monitoring. And remember that this is not a “social business” conference, this is essentially what we used to call a Lotus User Group conference.

Lotusphere 2012 Media All Activity 11 days

Lotusphere 2012 Media Activity

This isn’t just good for IBM, it’s good for the whole social business industry, and now let’s see the jockeying start among the big players. I think that we’re in for a transformational year ourselves, along with our clients.

Lotusphere 2012 Compare Social Buzz Media

Social Topics within Lotusphere 2012

IBM somewhat pre-empted this outcome, and their competitors, with their tie-up with the Dachis Group for social business consulting – a smart move. Here are three other bellweathers that I noticed during the week:

  1. Overwhelmingly positive reports of IBM’s social business approach and readiness, like this one “10 Ways To Transform Into A Social Enterprise” by Eric Lundquist;
  2. The sheer news volume generated around positive social business transformation opportunities;
  3. The release of the IBM Collective Intelligence 2012 report because for the first time the changes it suggests are in reach for enterprises.
The IBM report suggests that organisations wishing to add collective intelligence need to ask themselves 4 key questions:
  1. What are our strategic business objectives, and what types of insight can help us compete or differentiate ourselves in the market?
  2. Considering the audiences we may want to involve in a Collective Intelligence project, how can we motivate them to share their insights with the organization?
  3. How do we capture knowledge and connect individuals in new and cost-effective ways?
  4. What technology tools do we need to support this capability and who is best positioned to help us take advantage of these tools?

I’d suggest those steps probably need a 1.5 which is “How are we doing at present and where are our audiences including our competitors and partners?” In which case these are the same questions to ask when embarking on a social business transformation. The connection is that both social business and collective intelligence are all moving quickly to strong social business intelligence and strong community management - and linking that intelligence to the effectiveness of the communities and the business objectives.

So, the awakening of social business is a big theme, building on Salesforce’s campaign last year, the emergence of analytics – social business intelligence – as a key issue, and the practicality of being able to make it happen, and one more thing. I noticed in many places this week in the analysis and the coverage, the theme of building from the inside out. For example, this:

Unlike the case in the social consumer space, the social enterprise must have all the security and privacy features that a business requires. You also need a strong business foundation of measurable value and you must retain control of the social network attributes, rather than handing over control to the big, sprawling consumer networks.

The use of communities as cultural training tools, social media training tools, change tools, is a common theme. And an associated theme is now to embed social into all apps and workflows. The excitement is that all this is now on the roadmap, it’s simply a matter of which organisations will be first to step up to the plate – it’s not small challenge but it is no longer a matter of if but when in 2012 the leading enterprises will kick off in the footsteps of IBM, EMC, TD Bank etc.

Do you think 2012 will be a seminal year for social business transformation?
How do you see communities playing a role in the successful transformation to a social enterprise?
Which technologies will lead in the enablement of the social enterprise – Telligent and others?
Which firms will lead in social business consulting – IBM or others?

Please comment below.

IBM Lotusphere2012 buzzgraph


See also our Slideshare presentation Company “Owned” Social Networks

PS if you are interested in the buzz from Lotusphere 2012 click on the buzzgraph at right to see all the strongest word pair linkages – where two words have a strong linkage there is a strong line.

The IBM brand dominates, which is not always the case at industry events, and strong connections are with Lotuslive, Opensocial, Sametime, Connect, and the 2 superstars Sandy Carter and Tim Berners-Lee. These are the linkages, with IBM, that generated the most contributions in the media.

This is how the conference portrayed itself in the totality of the media, including blogs, forums, traditional news and all the usual suspects.

See also our Slideshare presentation Company “Owned” Social Networks