IBM AND SOCIAL BUSINESS

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Introduction

The era of technological and information advancement has brought about a myriad of opportunities both to business organizations as well as to individual consumers. An example to the great success that the business world is experiencing is the use of social media technologies for commercial/business purposes. Social businesses are defined as organizations, which apply emergent technologies such as the web 2.0 together with changes in the processes, organization as well as business cultures in order to adopt a rather different landscape in business dealings (Alley, 2014, para 1-4; Kiron, Palmer, Phillips, & Kruschwitz, 2012, p. 1-10; Kiron, Palmer, Phillips, & Kruschwitz, 2012, p. 51-60). There is higher acknowledgement of the interactions of people as they are the main platform upon which the business thrives. In particular, software and applications for social networking are easily gaining new use and are increasingly being exploited for commercial gains by both small as well as large enterprises (Baxter and Watson, 2012, p. 1-2). Although criticism has risen in the past that social media are strategically meant for the young generation hence would be partial if applied for business purposes, reality has worked to prove the contra of the argument. One such a company that has adopted the social structure for business and has done extremely well is the IBM Company (“How social networking increases collaboration at IBM”, 2010, p. 32-35). This paper therefore intends to carry out an intensive analysis of IBM company exploitation of social network services for business gains. The report will have four main parts, which are organizational learning approach, social media development, knowledge management features and the extent of subsequent innovation within the IBM Company.

 Organizational learning approach

Traudt and Vancil (2011, p. 1-13) in investigating the IBM story concerning adoption and use of social software and applications for compared the rates and levels of deployment of the software within trading organizations and found out that the process was easily gaining momentum within many organizations. Organizations, which had already adopted the technologies, recorded realizing higher returns in productivity as well as realizing higher savings in time. However, it is to be noted that installation of social software serves as an enabler for transformation of a business into a social business unlike as otherwise would be thought as the actual social business. Commitment, time as well as effort in transforming a business into a social business are prerequisite and mandatory necessities in the process (“IBM; IBM Accelerates Social Business Adoption with New Mobile Software”, 2011, p. 527). Nevertheless, it is acknowledged that transformation of a business into a social business makes it more efficient, open as well as innovative which are necessary attributes towards better customer-employee interrelations ease in making decisions as well as speed-to-market potential. Social business exploits among other cultural heritage in accelerated innovations and intellectual capital reuse. We acknowledge that using social software in an organization has the capacity of affecting merely all departments as well as ensuring higher results by the departments (“IBM; IBM Fuels Social Business Adoption With Partner and Academic Skills Initiative”, 2011, p. 976).

In learning about social business, IBM reveals that basic elements to be learnt include that market factors drives such a change, social business objectives are necessary, social business outputs need be outlined as well as social software acts as the enabler. The organizational learning approach is therefore fundamental in dictating the direction of the business with the organizational change. Learning and effectively implementing such a change into social business follows distinct steps which are evaluating for the strategic factors necessitating such a change, understanding the main social business objective an organization intends to fulfill as well as understanding the social outputs to be targeted for supporting of the objectives identified. Moreover, there is the need to have the applications as well as platforms necessary for realization of the targeted outputs defined. The IBM developerWorks is an online pool of resources that was created as a learning approach and offers information as well as technical learning contents to application managers, IT managers, system administrators as well as to academicians. In a rather differentiated approach than through use of social media like facebook and twitter, IBM sought of a mechanism to raise interactions of people online for monetary gains and this is how ‘my developerWorks’ was born. Higher level of collaboration and interactions form the basis of the social business as is embraced by IBM.

Social media development

It is to be noted that information technology has increasingly shaped the modes of communication adopted within organizations and this explains the emergence of such communication mechanisms as through websites, social media as well as through teleconferencing services. Recent developments have seen the development of a specialized web which is referred to as ‘Web 2.0’ and which allows communication between many people on the same web platform (Bughin, chui and Miller, 2009, para 1-7). Web 2.0 technologies, which are the most modern technologies for use in such organizations as IBM, allow easy and efficient communication between organizational management, employees as well as the customers. Suppliers as well as other persons involved within the supply chain management also take advantage of the ease of communication through the web 2.0 inventions and this improves the performance of the organization. At the time when dot com era was overtaken, technological advancement in web development brought about new web applications and software whose main feature was online interactive pages. This simply took the name Web 2.0 and as referred to previously, the web based system allows increased interactions by people from the same web page (Anderson, 2007, para 1-3). Therefore, it represents varying ways through which web pages are designed and adopted for use. Moreover, it incorporates other features as instant messaging, group diaries, virtual offices that are hosted, video and audio conferencing as well as address books which all aid in effective communication. Paramount to the main notable advantages with this technology is that people would adopt a virtual community through which communication and interactions would be on the social media. Therefore, the members to such a virtual community would be in a position to communicate, exchange materials and share information, among other practices, which were not enabled by previous versions of web applications. Social business as well as interactive social media platforms adopts the new web development applications for ease of convenience and economies. Nevertheless, increased awareness has seen in the recent past the technology gain popularity among firms playing the information sector, journalism as well as within entertainment industries across the globe. Business organizations adopts internet as the main necessity, just as was previously used by other web versions but has higher appliances such as phones, tablets, laptop computers and notepads among others and has higher levels of interactions between a person to another.

It is to be noted that Web 2.0 has brought about great revolution in modern day communications and interactions across different geographical localities. Virtual communication has been in the rise with the designing and adoption of the technology with physical communication being in the verge of being overtaken and forgotten in business transactions. IBM enjoys strategic benefits while it operates the social business which include

Communication efficiency: Ease of interactions and communication through the virtual platform aids in good management of such an organization. Customers at the destination countries where the organization exports its products to gets easy means to communicate direct to the management on which ever the concern they would like addressed as well as on commendation to the organization. Such platforms as social media provide rather cheap means through which customers and the organizational management would interact and this would reduce instances of information distortion between either party in the communication. The technology through which the web 2.0 web version relies on is therefore very effective in addressing the challenge of physical distance as well as communication through provision of virtual interactive platforms, which require little technical expertise (Barnes et al, 2012, p. 688).

Marketing: The entire process involved between the manufacture of products by the producer and the consumption by the final consumer sums up marketing process, which comprises a wide range of processes that include proper identification of consumer needs and wants, and formulating mechanisms to meet the needs, and satisfy the wants. Marketing has been seen to satisfy needs and wants by giving information to target groups as well as bringing the products to their reach. In reference to knowledge management, marketing involves effective capturing, sharing, developing as well as the effective use of knowledge from an organization to gain customers for the products. The technologies of Web 2.0 for social media have been in the recent past adopted as effective tools for organizational management of information, which is not limited to marketing knowledge.

Cost: As a profit making organization, IBM Company has an obligation to adopt the most cost effective means of management of organizational information in order to maintain low profile of operational costs for profit making. Social media applications and software have been shown to be easier and effective in passing information from a person to another as it is applied within such simple appliances as the telephone. The organization would have no need to use the rather expensive mechanisms as mails and letters, which are cumbersome and take long time in response.

Challenges

Over exposure of organizational information:  It is a concern in the modern era that social media places so much information open to all people in the internet which threatens levels of secrecy and security of an individual or such an organization as IBM. Hackers as well as such other intruders whose motives would be bad threaten the well-being of such an organization and customers through the ease of access to the sensitive information exposed through the web.

Hacking:  Hackers and such intruders invade the systems of an organization through malware or specialized programs, which would rely on such information, share across the social media platforms. Therefore, the cyber crime should be an urgent matter to consider while investing in and adopting internet use in organizational management and for business. Malicious software has been in use even with the previous version of web applications and is equally a potential threat to the welfare of any individual or organization operating in social business (Reavis, 2012, p3-6). The software in use include viruses which gain access to computer systems of an organization and corrupt the stored information or copy it and replicat.............


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