IBM suggests how social business can work for healthcare, retail, govt

IBM suggests how social business can work for healthcare, retail, govt

Summary: To further encourage how social business can be put to work, IBM and friends offered a deep dive for how these technologies can be used to improve healthcare, retail, and government.

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Retail

Dan Pelino, general manager of the global public sector at IBM, asserted that he doesn't "think there's any other industry that has transformed itself more than retail."

Still, there are plenty of examples of legacy brands with older infrastructures just opening up to the idea of change.

At 175 years old, David Jones is the world's oldest department store still trading under its original name, with 36 stores and 8,000 employees.

Starting in 2012, Maree Foti, human resources manager for retention at the Australian brand, explained that the focus of the project was to find a solution that provided two-way communication, provide employees with real-time access anywhere, and complement existing channels.

David Jones launched an IBM Connections-based pilot program, dubbed "The Thread," in October involving 1,000 employees.

Since it launched, Foti described the response has been "very positive" with "encouraging feedback" for branding and content.

After a few weeks, Foti cited an internal survey that revealed that more than 64 percent of users accessed The Thread a "couple of times a week or more," and 55 percent of users believed that this medium will enhance two-way communication.

In the survey, the users also indicated their top three benefits: Increased knowledge about what's available at David Jones, a direct link to the leadership team (including the CEO), and building a sense of communication and collaboration.

Foti offered three tips for approaching social:

  • Bring the platform to life by demonstrating value to stakeholders through involvement

  • Focus on content

  • Engaging champions at all level of the business--not just leadership. This includes ensuring there is something for everyone with support in every department.

Moving forward, Foti concluded that the focus is now moving from simply getting users started on The Thread, but how to take advantage of this on a day-to-day basis, starting with community forums and enabling opportunities for collaboration.

Government

Through social technologies, Mike Van Milligen, city manager of Dubuque, Iowa, asserted that "what we are doing is making our citizens the solutions to our local challenges."

Jeff Rhoda, general manager of the global government and education team at IBM, said that while in the past we used to talk about informing citizens, now it's about engaging them.

"We're all citizens somewhere," Rhoda said, adding that whether you're professionally involved or not, the impact of social business on governments is of interest to all of us.

Through social technologies, Mike Van Milligen, city manager of Dubuque, Iowa, asserted that "what we are doing is making our citizens the solutions to our local challenges."

After decades of decline, Van Milligen described that a revival strategy enabled by technology became a top priority in 2005, centered around a three-part road map to economic prosperity, cultural vibrancy, and ecological efficiency.

"Self-interest is a powerful motivator for change," Van Milligen said. "If you put the right information in the people's hands, they can and will make smarter decision for themselves and their communities."

In partnership with IBM, the city conducted three studies on water, electricity, and travel using data generated by volunteer households. Van Milligen remarked that the results of the pilot provided "valuable information" to drive increased efficiency in water-delivery processes as well as behavioral changes.

For example, Van Milligen cited that Dubuque experienced a 7 percent reduction in water usage and a whopping 800 percent increase in water leak detection.

For electricity, the city was able to enable a 4 percent to 7 percent average monthly savings for households. Acknowledging that might not look like much, beyond the pilot, Van Milligen said "we're looking a huge bottom line" in savings for homes and businesses.

"Self-interest is a powerful motivator for change," Van Milligen said. "If you put the right information in the people's hands, they can and will make smarter decision for themselves and their communities."

On travel, Van Milligen noted that initial findings are already being used to develop more efficient bus routes.

"This is the way real change happens--bottom up--with the city acting as a social business," Van Milligen posited, citing that the city population now stands at just under 60,000, with over 300,000 college students within 100 miles of Dubuque.

Nevertheless, Van Milligen acknowledged that it's "not realistic" average citizen or employer to accommodate all changes at once, advising that "incremental is best" approach.

He argued that it's important to remember that just because someone has access to Web browsers and that method lowers costs for the government, that doesn't ensure citizens will respond that way.

Van Milligen concluded, "We need to interact with citizens in a variety of venues regardless of their technological comfort levels."

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

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