How to build a social business

Posted on June 29, 2012


enterprise 2.0 boston

I recently attended the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston. Building a Social Business was this year’s theme. It is here that I learned about the latest technology trends and tools that will help make businesses more efficient and productive. Since I’m all about efficiency and technology, this conference was especially interesting to me.

Here are the highlights from the keynote speakers:

1. Nathan Bricklin, SVP, Head of Social Strategy at Wells Fargo, Wholesale Services

  • You don’t have to win all the time as long as you’re moving forward.
  • Social isn’t the be all and end all.
  • IT (information technology) should never get in the way of what users want to do.
  • Do it smart, not quick.
  • User preferences are key.
  • Social media should help teach people how to make smart decisions about their businesses.
  • What’s important to a business can be different, depending upon the business.

2. Richard Foo, Collaboration Director at Nike, Inc.

  • Building a social business is a journey, there is no finish line.
  • Put strategy first and solutions second. It’s all too easy to jump right into the latest new tools.
  • Keep it simple and adoption rates will soar.
  • Address challenges and objections upfront.
  • Help people see the value of working in a new way.
  • Don’t forget face-to-face meetings!

3. Phillip Easter, Director of Mobile Apps for American Airlines

In the old days, we owned IT and we controlled the playground. Now, Apple has build a better playground via their App Store.

  • It’s all about the user.
  • Think intent, not location.

4. Bryan Barringer, Manager Enterprise Collaboration Implementation at FedEx Services

The old way: I have knowledge and must limit access to this knowledge in order to keep my value to the organization.

The new way: I have knowledge and will share my knowledge so that I can increase my value.

  • Badges and gamification are very effective ways to encourage knowledge sharing and desired behavior changes. Gamification is “the integration of game mechanics or game dynamics into a website, service, community, campaign, or application in order to drive participation and engagement,” according to Wikipedia.

Lessons learned:

  • Don’t lockdown functionality, keep flexibility.
  • Don’t assume you know your employee base.
  • Don’t start with 300 badges for everything, including tying your shoes or showing up for work.
  • Don’t start a program if you can’t keep it going.
  • Get legal and hr involved right from the start.
  • Encouragement is good, punishment is bad. Gamification is the carrot, not the stick.


5. Andrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist at MIT

Hearing Andrew speak is always a delight and quite inspiring. He is one of my favorite technology speakers.

  • The world is one big data problem.
  • Google doesn’t necessarily have better algorithms, but they do have more and better data.
  • Computers are getting better very quickly.
  • The physical world is not safe from this phenomenon! Witness the Google car, it goes without a driver!

Some examples Andrew gave to illustrate the point about computers getting better:

  • Watson (the IBM computer) winning at Jeopardy.
  • Apple earnings report written by a computer. it was so well written, you would never have guessed it was written by a computer!
  • Medical diagnosis of breast cancer, after looking at pathology slides.
  • Prediction of good wine years.

Good strategies for succeeding in this new environment:

  • Race with the machines. Andrew highlighted the case of the winning combination of computers and chess players (not chess masters).
  • Social tools encourage participation and this is good for individuals.

6. Art King, Global Infrastructure Architecture Lead at Nike, Inc.

Art spoke about the Mobile IT mind shift.

  • IT must adapt to customers.
  • IT needs to gracefully share control with customers.
  • Goal is to create a premium user experience that also addresses compliance and control issues of an organization.
  • Consumer universe is right brain and the enterprise universe is left brain. The enterprise needs to be more right brain if it is to succeed with customers.
  • There has been a shift from push to pull. The user now picks which apps he wants to install. If the user has questions, he searches online for answers; he doesn’t call the IT help desk.
  • Apps have evolved to role-based.
  • The most successful apps are intuitive.

While the focus of Enterprise 2.0 Boston was on how larger companies can use social to help their bottome line, the strategies and tactics discussed can apply to any size business.

If you’d like to learn more about how social technology can help businesses become more productive and efficent, you can check out the website Enterprise 2.0 Boston.

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