Social business experts name 4 trends to watch in 2013

Summary:IBM executives and marketing experts debate how how important it is to have a shared social agenda with the CIO.

Orlando: While the majority of the attendees at IBM Connect 2013 this week are presumably keen on the idea of social media in the workplace, there are still plenty of businesses out there still looking to catch up--or hoping this will all just fade away.

The reality of the situation is that social media will not fade away. What remains to be seen is how long it will take businesses to understand and implement social in a productive, profitable method.

Attending powwows like Connect could certainly help in terms of advice, and IBM (and plenty of other tech giants) would be quick to tell companies that it has the resources to set it all up for you--much like with the cloud over the last two years.

But education (and a dose of caution) would also be in order, based on a panel discussion on Monday with Beverly Macy, CEO of consulting firm Gravity Summit, along with Sandy Carter, vice president of sales and evangelism for IBM's Social Business group.

The two women outlined the following four themes that they deemed most relevant for anyone curious about the social business bonanza.

1. Beyond marketing

While social business is still in its infancy as a strategy (and arguably as a concept and term itself), Carter said we're now seeing social moving beyond the marketing department into the intellectual capital area. She added that this is "great for marketers because they're starting the trends and teaching colleagues" at the same time.

This asks the question about whether or not CMOs should start hashing out a "shared social agenda" with CIOs given the technological resources needed and being used to accomplish this. Macy added that with the cloud, the CIOs will be playing an even bigger role with social business as "data management is coming back to data centers."

Nevertheless, she acknowledged that a lot of companies "haven't even mastered social-media marketing yet," adding that the idea that "every functional area of your business is going to be affected by social is a big pill to swallow for a lot of companies," including every department ranging from sales to legal to R&D.

"It means that companies have to start thinking about policies for engagement, both internally for employees and externally for customer relationships," Macy said, adding that the hard part is to make sure this doesn't get out of control.

2. Social + analytics + cloud + mobile = success

"On the business side, people don't take smoke breaks anymore. They take Facebook breaks," Macy remarked.

A big point that IBM wants to make at Connect this week is that social business is just about collaboration. It's being defined as an entire framework of moving parts involving the cloud, mobile devices, and data analytics as well as social media.

Carter remarked that if your business is already separating the mobile and social teams, you're basically already on the wrong path, arguing that doing this "doesn't make any sense."

Estimating that nearly 70 percent of social-media activity today is conducted mobile, Carter asserted that companies can learn about the combination of these two being applied and leverage those influencers.

Macy suggested how the combination of mobile and social, among other technologies, have changed behavioral trends.

"On the business side, people don't take smoke breaks anymore. They take Facebook breaks," Macy remarked.

By extension, she suggested consumer expectations have evolved too, describing that the ability for marketers to take advantage of or "to be literally in step with their consumers is exhilarating."

"The concept of social analytics in the cloud on mobile, from a shopping standpoint, with good predictive modeling--I can be delivered the coupon I want as I'm walking up to the door," Macy explained.

She admitted that this can be "also a little scary to some people." But from a business standpoint, Macy predicted that's the kind of thing we're going to see regardless.

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


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,, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for, Irish Americ... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.