“The Social Business allows and rewards open conversation between colleagues, partners and customers. It relies on the power of social connections to shape new products and services, and to propel new revenue and earnings growth. It embraces Web 2.0 technology in the form of Social Business Software to enable this critical change.”
Jive’s definition is a good start, but ultimately does not go far enough. It implies organizational, cultural, and technology elements, but does not explicitly invoke all of those terms. Also, there is no mention of business process in the definition.
In June, partners at the Dachis Group began publicly touting Social Business Design as a new category of professional services. The volume was turned up on the concept last week, when Dachis acquired Headshift. Even I noticed the forward momentum, in this post, saying that “It would be difficult to overstate the importance of this action, as it instantly legitimizes social business as a management discipline on a global scale.”
While the Social Business Software and Social Business Design labels have gained increased usage, there is a problem with the common, core component of those phrases — Social Business. A Google query of the term produces a well-established definition that does not even apply to social computing:
Social business is a cause-driven business. In a social business, the investors/owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but cannot take any dividend beyond that point. Purpose of the investment is purely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company, no personal gain is desired by the investors. The company must cover all costs and make profit, at the same time achieve the social objective, such as, healthcare for the poor, housing for the poor, financial services for the poor, nutrition for malnourished children, providing safe drinking water, introducing renewable energy, etc. in a business way. The impact of the business on people or environment, rather the amount of profit made in a given period measures the success of social business. Sustainability of the company indicates that it is running as a business. The objective of the company is to achieve social goal/s.
If Enterprise 2.0 and Social Media advocates are going to try to hijack the phrase Social Business, there must be a clear, consensus definition in place. Since an adequate definition is currently lacking, despite Jive’s good attempt, I thought I would write one and start a communal process of building something we can all use moving forward.
My working definition of Social Business appears below. Please comment extensively on this, even at the level of specific word changes. Also feel free to invite others to read the definition and comment (directly on the blog please). I will gather and consider all comments, then revise the definition and re-post. Thanks in advance for your feedback!
Social Business: A business philosophy that emphasizes employee trust and autonomy as an alternative to hierarchical command-and-control management. Additionally, the philosophy views customers and business partners as trusted components of the organization, not as external constituents. The philosophy should be supported by appropriate organizational design, culture, business process, and technology strategies and investments. Like any other business philosophy, Social Business produces results consistent with accepted definitions of a viable, on-going business.