Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

Graham Kittle, Leader, Business Analytics, IBM

Graham Kittle, Leader, Business Analytics, IBM

By Graham Kittle

Today as more and more companies embrace Social Business they are quickly learning that social networks are more than the new water cooler where people congregate to talk about their weekend, share pictures of the kids and reviews of movies. These networks have the potential to be something far more powerful, a business’s new “production line” that is based around knowledge. However, instead of turning steel into aeroplanes we are turning ideas into innovation.

This picture of employees lined up on a production line, working together to develop the next great idea came to mind when I was reading a post by my colleague Jonathan Ferrar. The article, titled “The Hunt for Talent: How Social and Analytics are Reinventing the Art of HR” focuses on the never ending search to find the best of what looks to be a shrinking pool of talent.

As Jonathan states in the article, success today requires human resource leaders to trade in some outdated hiring practices in favor of new social business capabilities that have the power to quickly and easily identify the right people for the right jobs at precisely the right time to create the 21st Century Workforce. 

These new capabilities include the use analytics where executives shift from gut-based decisions to fact-based decisions that leverage data and deliver real insight. The practice is largely untapped but as more and more areas of an organization experience the vast and valuable array of insights that are offered by this social/big data combination, including HR, that is changing and fast.

What I’d like to focus a little more on today is what comes after the offer letter has been signed. That’s right, hiring the right people is just the beginning. To use a golf analogy, the winners in this hunt for talent, the ones who get to sport the “green jacket,” are those who have a strong long game and a good short game. Translation: bringing on a talent is one thing, but unleashing their knowledge and expertise is another.

Today’s business winners succeed because of their people. These are the minds that drive innovation and unearth the next big idea that vaults the company forward. According to the 2012 IBM CEO Study, “Leading Through Connections,” 71 percent of CEOs cite human capital as their greatest source of sustained economic value. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that companies are maximizing each asset.

For example, in the age of the global business, where great ideas can come from any corner of the world, what happens when employees don’t have an outlet to share their thoughts?  We have all experienced this scenario.  What happens when that light bulb goes off and there is no one there to see it, to help nurture it and bring it to life? That’s right. Nothing.

This is where social business enters the discussion.

Today’s social networks are the businesses’ new production line, where employees, partners and clients connect with each other to share vast amounts of knowledge about an endless number of things. On the other side are businesses who—with the right tools—can identify new chances to innovate by doing the following:

Capture the insights of employees: What are people talking about? Which topics are getting the most support and from who? Don’t just look at the thought leaders in your corporate office but everyone, from Atlanta to Australia and beyond.

Analyze the knowledge this social network creates: Good ideas can come from anywhere, whether it’s a first year data analyst or a veteran programmer. Don’t just see what topics are trending but look under the hood at why. Engage those involved and get their insights and guidance.

Share ideas throughout the business: Every business must be committed to promoting ideas that could accelerate innovation, out-market competitors and make it to the top of the mountain.

Leverage social to more deeply engage with customers and reach new audiences: Social networks offer the opportunity to remove boundaries both in attracting talent as well as tapping into it and bringing its ideas to life to build a Smarter Planet.

So I ask, is it time you trade in your virtual water cooler for a social production line?

If you are interested in hearing more about how businesses are already seeing tangible results from social business, such as improving efficiency, productivity, time to market and market exposure, take a look at IBM’s new TV ad. Incidentally, I appear in the TV ad and talk about that experience in my photo journal on the Social Business Insights blog.


For those who would like to keep this discussion going. Please join me between 4:00 pm EDT on April 10 and  8:00 am EDT on April 11 on to share your thoughts and successes on bringing out the best in your employees, creating a smarter workforce and using data to maximize your organization’s social business opportunity. Please RSVP today.

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