Collectively, as a species, we spend 110 billion minutes using social media every month. That's 22 percent of all the time we spend online. And, love it or hate it, what's the great thing about social media? It's the very definition of collaboration, something your midsize business is all about.
Yes, "social" can refer to the kind of stuff you do on your downtime. But, according to IBM, "social business" means embedding the right social tools, media, and practices into the ongoing activities of your organization. Translation: social should be as much as part of the DNA of your company as it is part of the DNA of your friend who won't stop Instagramming her meals. This way, the same principles that let you easily share your life with friends can also keep you connected and collaborating with your staff.
But it's not enough to strive for your 500th "Like" when it doesn't better your business. You need to be as smart as you are connected. Rather than attempting some bizarre, Suzanne Collins-esque team-building exercise, or implementing Lazy Susan technology (see above), your midsize business should be encouraging collaboration by leveraging today's technologies in a way that reflects the shift to social, just like Russell's Convenience did.
Until Russell's (an upscale convenience store chain that's been serving the business districts in Detroit, Denver, San Francisco, LA, and Honolulu for 35 years) discovered IBM's social business software, day-to-day business for 25 stores from Michigan to Hawaii was managed with a paper trail and monthly cross-country flights — and things fell through the cracks. They knew they needed to get social, but they didn't have the bandwidth (or the time-travel tech) to create a portal for their customers to interact. Rather, they implemented IBM's cloud collaboration suite to share files, set up web conference calls, and seamlessly track projects in a more cost-effective, efficient manner. This way, they were able to cut travel costs by 33 percent, postage costs by 50 percent, and devote more time to improving their customer experience and increasing sales across the board. Everybody wins.
Connecting with people online is super easy. Collaborating with colleagues in a smart, effective way should be just as easy. So take off that sandwich board — um, where did you even get that sandwich board? — and start working together better with IBM's business solutions.
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