Again I am travelling to Orlando. Again IBM runs the big conference on social business and related stuff. And again I learned a lot about new technologies, built new contacts and worked on new ideas. But something made me think. It is about the dream that I work for. So let´s jump into the plane and lift off to Florida.
Before we dive into the learning of this year’s conference, let´s have a look on the general opening session. With this session in the early morning, IBM kicks off the conference. The American Authors – a young but already famous group in US – rocked the stage at eight o´clock in the morning. I wonder whether those guys were booked with an early bird discount.
One of the first eye catchers was the conference slogan itself. It was interesting to see how IBM begins to move away from the term “social business”. Maybe they have seen too that this term is also used in a completely different way? Or they see that “social” is connected with “Facebook” in too many top manager brains due to the early days where “social” was the idea of using Web2.0 technology which was misunderstood as “Facebook to run the company”? So IBM called the conference vision “Energizing life´s work” and I like this sentence. It is more focused on people and about the power and business value of “social” and does not touch the “Facebook” button inside top managers’ heads.
So for 2014 I had three big to-dos on my conference activity list:
- Learn about social technology news and strategies
- Connect to other companies which go social
- Run my presentation
News about technology
What have I learned about IBMs strategy for social technologies in the next years? Two activities are interesting.
The core idea of IBM for future social tools from users point of view seems to melt down the information overload by bringing together main communication paths like mail and social together on one dashboard. And to achieve this, IBM announced mail.next whith this core capability of the dashboard. The blog entries from digitalnaiv and CMSwire dive deeper into that topic.
Second one is the long-term view of analytics and the new Watson foundations. There was a slide (also can seen in the blog post of digitalnaiv) where big-data services may be run by Watson foundation. So I am not an expert here but Watson is the “computer” who is able to win Jeopardy and chess games because he works “cognitive”. That´s quite interesting and looking on the entire stack in that blog post, it seems as IBM builds something like an operating system for networked companies.
What do the others do?
The second big to-do was to meet many other leaders of social business (ehm?) programs of other companies and exchange with their activities and challenges. And I did my best to talk to as many as possible people. Well, many of them asked me to keep their exchange confidential, so I am not able to spread my learnings here transparently. But trying to summarize the activities I think I can see the following trends:
- All companies who are in a “mature” stage meaning using social networks for +2-3 years are now in front of a big challenge: What is the business case of this activity? And with business case I mean business case. Which additional earnings or savings does a company have by becoming social? I see that the answer to this question will be one of the big challenges the next years.
- Most of the companies I spoke at least understood that becoming “social” is way more than rolling out technology. There are already many companies that run activites to shift their leadership or even tune their company values.
- On technology side more and more companies focus more on IT integration of the social platform. That is good news, because a good IT integration is a prerequisite to a good user adoption.
All-in-all I saw a growing awareness in the fact that “going social” is not a funky idea any more but becomes a serious business driver. But the question of the business case needs to be answered, otherwise this topic may get in trouble.
Being on stage
My third big activity was my presentation of the social business program of Bosch, the company that I work for. I was quite a little bit nervous because for this presentation I build an entire new slide deck. But all-in-all, it worked well and I had great fun with the audience (and hopefully the audience with me, too :-)).
So times went by very fast. Many conversations done, great ideas collected. Then I had this one moment of AHA. It was short before I left the conference. I wondered the whole days what the slogan “Energizing life´s work” may mean to me. And then I stumbled upon this poster:
Ouch, this made me think – think very hard. And I thought about the dream that I work for. Since many years I dream of a company where people run processes, not the other way round. I dream of a company that sees the human as potential, not as a resource. I dream of a company that gives the associates the groundwork to develop themselves best. I am convinced that this is the meaning of “social business”. And this is my big dream.
Thanks, conference trip, to make me again aware of this.
Update: My summary on storify.com of this presentation is ready.