Last Friday, I had the opportunity to hear fellow ebizQ blogger, Dion Hinchcliffe speak about the emergence of Social Business (a slightly unfortunate naming since it often gets confused with this). Dion presented a compelling picture for Social Business that was characterized to some degree as the next step beyond Enterprise 2.0. I couldn’t help but think of this as a repackaging/re-framing of E2.0, new and improved – encompassing the effective use of social computing both internally and externally. And, I think it’s a good thing. While I’m not sure about the “social business” moniker, this repositioning of E2.0 is important if it’s going to thrive as a concept.

The first challenge is that E2.0 needs to tackle is to focus less on internal efficiencies and more on driving customer facing activities – how to get customers and keep them. It needs to be about topline revenue and not simply about operational expense management.

The second problem – thanks to Web 2.0 and social computing, the lines between external, market facing initiatives and internal collaborative initiatives are blurring….fast. Social computing drive companies to a higher degree of market engagement and corporate transparency. Companies with social media teams will listen on specific social media “channels” to respond to questions, complaints and opportunities. For this to be effective, this will drive corresponding initiatives within the corporate walls. Framing E2.0 as not simply internal collaboration technologies but a seamless engagement model that links customer interactions with internal collaboration is a step forward.

The final piece of the puzzle is measurable ROI. The challenge in the use of social computing both internally and externally is measurability. Whether it’s the use of Jive for collaborative projects or the man-hours poured into corporate responses on Twitter, many companies are still struggling with the right way to measure ROI. Old-school metrics like page views, click-throughs are no measure of true value. Ultimately, the challenge for the enterprise social computing community is to measure the value of these initiatives in terms of revenue generated, customer satisfaction scores increased and man-hours saved.

However, just because you can’t measure it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start engaging in these initiatives. The good news is that whether it’s called E2.0, Social Business or simply Web 2.0 (which sounds so dated), the recent McKinsey report indicates that companies that adopt these paradigm changing technologies are growing faster relative to their peers. And, that’s something worth adopting.


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