IBM makes aggressive push for social business as future of work

Summary:Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt describes how social media and collaboration can empower creative professionals to accomplish work in ways that weren't possible before.

ORLANDO -- Even if many companies can't define the "social enterprise" yet, IBM wants everyone to know that it's simply the reality of the business world today.

See also: IBM relying on more cloud services, software to accelerate social business

As an example of how the social and smarter workforce strategies are progressing, Alistair Rennie, general manager of social business at IBM, highlighted that attendance to IBM Connect 2013 is up by approximately 10 percent from last year.

But rather than starting off with a deep dive into more statistics, Rennie welcomed actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt to discuss how social technologies have strengthened smaller businesses like his open-production collaboration community hitRECord.

Levitt, who recently made his directorial debut at the Sundance Film Festival with Don Jon's Addiction, outlined that there are three elements that form the backbone of hitRECord: technology, community, and "the remix."

"The fact that what I did connected with someone else to inspire them to make something else out of it, that is satisfying in a way that nothing else is," he added.

For anyone familiar with social media and IBM, the first two might seem more obvious and easier to define.

While presenting a short animated film produced on hitRECord, The Man with a Turnip for a Head, Levitt remarked that if a Hollywood studio wanted to make a clip like that, it would take a good deal of resources and time, such as new cameras, new computers, and more.

But with the Internet, Levitt continued, it's a lot simpler.

"We spent no money on that. Literally, no money," he quipped.

On community, Levitt stressed the importance of positivity, asserting that negative responses on message boards just isn't productive. The Looper star explained that it's about finding good work and giving those artists more encouragement.

That relays into the third point: the remix.

"Once you let go of notion that 'this is mine' and others build on top of what you did, you can work together a lot better," Levitt said.

Citing that Walt Disney didn't create fairy tale characters like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, Levitt suggested that the power of the remix is all about making something new, fresh and possibly better.

"The fact that what I did connected with someone else to inspire them to make something else out of it, that is satisfying in a way that nothing else is," he added.

"There is no way that the way we think about computing today is going to be enough," he remarked, arguing that the way front office departments like human resources and CRM are run "is done."

When Rennie retook the stage, he proposed to the audience to keep in mind this mantra: "the purposeful use of social."

He continued to say that we're in the midst of the "rise of the social business," suggesting that there are still some infancy stages to get past, but that there is evidence this strategy is working.

Sandy Carter, vice president of the IBM Social Business Evangelism unit, cited a McKinsey Global Institute Study from July 2012 that out of 90 percent of businesses integrating social are experiencing productivity gains of 25 percent on average.

Nevertheless, Rennie was steadfast that a lot more work needs to be done.

"There is no way that the way we think about computing today is going to be enough," he remarked, arguing that the way front office departments like human resources and CRM are run "is done."

Carter concurred, "Social is like a healthy diet. It's not something you do temporarily. It's a lifestyle change."

Touted as "cloud first and mobile always," the execs introduced the IBM Adopt+ Methodology scheme for the company's top 10 best practices designed for social business adoption.

Other new releases coming this year were also introduced on Monday , much of which stem from last year's $1.3 billion acquisition of Kenexa.

Topics: CXO, Big Data, Data Management, Enterprise Software, IBM, Social Enterprise, Software

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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