Making the most of social media: to outpace competitors, businesses are harnessing the power of social technologies to connect employees, customers and partners to transform business processes in new and innovative ways and enabling CFOs to streamline business processes and drive results.

Author:Schick, Jeff

Two decades ago, very few could have anticipated how the Internet would forever change the way business is conducted. The Internet turned just 30 years old in January, but has become so engrained within business processes that it has permanently and irreversibly changed the economics of information and business models.

So what's next? Businesses are now looking for new ways to transform operations and better connect employees, partners and clients. No longer written off as a teenage trend or a temporary cultural obsession, social media is the tool being used to make that happen.

To stay competitive in today's market, businesses are harnessing the power of social technologies to accelerate innovation and outpace competitors. A true social business integrates social into all areas of an organization. For example, chief marketing officers are gaining valuable insights from Facebook, Twitter and public forums, and using this data to react swiftly to customer trends and build stronger brands. Human resource leaders are using social to improve recruitment and talent management efforts.

Social Business and the CFO

How does social business transform the office of the chief financial officer (CFO)? Using publically available data collected from social tools, CFOs can streamline business processes and drive results. IBM's 2012 Institute for Business Value's Social Business-Focused Study reveals that today, 66 percent of companies use social business initiatives to find information more quickly, increasing productivity. In two years, that number is poised to spike to 84 percent.

This investment will pay off in real numbers. For example, social tools can help workforces decrease customer attrition by delivering exceptional customer experience. A 5 percent decrease in customer attrition can boost profits by up to 95 percent, while finding new customers can cost up to seven times as much as keeping existing customers. Those are numbers any CFO can get behind.

Today's social businesses are effectively connecting people with people, and people with information. While these are fundamental aspects of a social business, it is time to start moving beyond collaboration and file sharing and give greater consideration to how social tools can streamline or enhance business processes and drive results.

When connecting people and sharing information through online sources, there is bound to be high volumes of free flowing data--hence the concept of "big data." Big...

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