Social Business Forum Highlights – Social Business on the Shoulders of Giants

Social Business Forum - #sbf11 - Andrew GilboyContinuing further with that series of blog posts detailing some of the major highlights for yours truly from the recent Social Business Forum conference event in Milan, Italy, I thought I would go ahead and share with you folks today the next installment where I would focus on the first part of the day, the one with all of the keynote speaker sessions, detailing some of the major key learnings and ah-ha moments I experienced throughout that morning. Then in later blog posts I will share some more thoughts on the various breakout sessions I attended and perhaps I will put together one final blog entry where I will link to the recordings of the presentations, once they are all made available. So, let’s get things going! How can I summarise an entire morning of inspiring keynotes in a single sentence or two. Let’s see… How about Social Business is not something entirely new, we already knew about it from before. Welcome to the 2.0 Awakening of Business!

Yes, indeed! That would pretty much nail it, as far as I can see, for those couple keynote speaker sessions that kicked off the event to a great start! At first, we had Emanuele Scotti and Rosario Sica (From OpenKnowledge) who spent a few minutes going through a fancy and elegant Prezi presentation (“Social Business on the Shoulders of Giants“) where they quoted a good number of great thinkers from our recent history, going as far back as Newton (Stayed tuned, because this reference will come up again!), sharing further insights which mimic, almost too close, plenty of the main thinking behind Social Business from all along, even for Social Computing and Enterprise 2.0. With a couple of those quotes as some of my own favourites. Like Fernando Flores’ Trust is the main ingredient necessary for creating and sustaining a solid business relationship” or that other one from Rita Levi Montalcini: “Above all, don’t fear difficult moments. The best comes from them“.

That short session clearly highlighted how plenty of the same thinking that has been inspired and provoked for Social Business has got plenty of deeper roots, throughout the years, in how business used to run in the past, but that we seemed to have forgotten, or neglected, in the last few decades altogether. Great refreshing reminders that confirm how we may not be inventing anything new in here, maybe just an evolution, but perhaps going through that full awakening stage of reminding us all who we really are and what we do for business on a daily basis. Good stuff! Here’s the embedded Slideshare deck, so you can catch up with some of the remaining quotes they shared across:

Moving on into the next keynote session we had the great pleasure and true honour of having with us Bill Johnston, Director of Global Community at Dell, who under the very suggestive title “Paving the way to Social Business” did a fabulous job at describing how Dell has progressed from pretty much ignoring social media to become a full powerhouse leading the way in the consumer space in just over 3 to 4 years. I told him (half jokingly), at the end of the session, how much I enjoyed it, to the point that if it weren’t for the OS running in Dell machines I wouldn’t mind purchasing one myself just to experience their customer excellence! :-D

Indeed, the set of slides that Bill put together were amazingly insightful and very much spot on in helping define what are some of the main challenges and great opportunities for businesses with a common goal: delighting their clients. And he basically shared plenty of insights on how they go about it over at Dell. You can have a look into the slides over at Slideshare as well and I strongly recommend you spend a few minutes going through them, specially, check out slide #6 on a rather inspirational holistic approach towards networks of value, which I am sure is going to resonate, quite a bit, with those folks who advocate, very vehemently, where the final frontier for Social Business is at the end of the day.

Or check slide #8: one of the most brutal slides you will see available out there and which describes, pretty nicely, how Dell came on board the whole social media bandwagon to be one of the industry leaders in this space at the moment. It’s a rather bold move to come out there and share stories like that one from that slide and how that evolution on wanting to become better will require an extra effort and lots of learning. Pretty much along the very same lines that we, over at IBM, experienced with Jams, back in the day. Just brilliant!

The rest of the slides are pretty interesting detailing as well several of the Dell initiatives they have got in place, like SMaC (Social Media and Community Team), or the Social Media and Community University, which comes pretty close to the same beliefs behind our very own BlueIQ Adoption and Enablement Programme, IdeaStorm, etc. etc. Worth while looking into! Just as much as the part dedicated towards the holy grail of social media; of course, I am referring to figuring out the ROI of these social tools as well as some very interesting piece of advice on “Planning for Social Media & Community Engagement“, where Bill shared plenty of good practices on how to get things started with plenty of pragmatic approaches and sound advice (Check slides #22 to #26).

However, if I were to highlight the one favourite slide from his presentation that would be, without a doubt, slide #10 where Bill just mentioned how critical listening is for any social media strategy. In fact, to Dell it’s “The Heart of our Social Strategy. As it should be, for sure! That’s what we keep on insisting ourselves, social computing evangelists, as well that before you dive right in, check out what’s happening out there, listen to what people are saying, get to learn and absorb how they interact and from there onwards figure out and find a way that would suit not only you and your own needs, but those of your customers, which is what matters at the end of the day. And active listening is the perfect activity to get the ball rolling!

Here you have got the embedded code of Bill’s great presentation, so you can quickly flip through the charts and get a glimpse of what you can look forward to whenever the recording of his keynote becomes available at a later time:

Social Business Forum - #sbf11 - Andrew GilboyAnd, finally, the last one from the morning keynote speaker sessions. This time around with the rather provocative, but very insightful Andrew Gilboy, Oracle VP E2.0 EMEA, who covered “Social Business, it’s also about the Processes“. And I do realise I am describing his session as rather thought-provoking and eye-opening from the perspective that anyone out there who may be involved with the whole concept of creativity and the arts, i.e. musicians, authors, play writers, filmmakers, etc. etc. must go through the first few slides (From slide #8 to #slide 20) to find out, in a very helpful manner, the state of their own industry and how if they continue to think along the lines of the 20th century business models they are bound to suffer quite a bit, if not disappear altogether! And all of that through a wonderful trip down the memory lane of the music industry in the last decade! A must-go-through, for sure!

From there onwards, Andrew covered that important aspect of identifying new social business processes that would apply not only to the music industry, but to multiple other industries as well. Just loved his distinction of how those (social) business processes have been working out their magic for both “left” and “right brainers” (Slide #23) to present a rather interesting and immersive landscape that no business should ignore, nor neglect.

Finally, another worth while paying attention section from his presentation was that part where he covered Opportunities and Threats with plenty of examples from other businesses who have already taken a potential threat and converted it into a huge opportunity, helping define the landscape of how business will be conducted in the near future. Really worth while having a look, if only to check out how those other businesses are becoming, and living, social.

Here is the embedded code of Andrew’s slide deck, so you can have a look into it right away as well:

And that was it from me for now! As you can see, plenty of great food for thought on what it means to become a successful and sustainable social business with lots to digest and think through. But overall quite a line-up of rather relevant, interesting and inspiring keynote speakers who definitely helped set the stage for a good bunch of great conversations we all had throughout the day. But that would be the time for another blog post, where I can talk about the remaining sessions, as well as those other conversations on the side … Stay tuned for more to come!

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