Social business is much bigger than social media, but in order to set the scene in a slightly amusing manner, let me start with a cartoon.

A while ago I mentioned I was thinking of writing something on social business, but I’ve never really got around to giving this topic the respect it deserves, and unfortunately today is not that day either. The more I think about it the more I realize that this is a topic way too big to try and do properly in just one blog post; but I hope to at least get you thinking about this concept and if you are interested to do some more reading on the subject from the real experts – for example, people like my friends at Headshift, or one of the many other firms specializing in this area.

A while ago I saw a site quoting AIIM Industry Watch with the following claim.

71% agree it’s easier to locate “knowledge” on the Web than within their internal systems.

In a small way, this statistic kind of got me thinking in the direction of a few good recent pieces by people far more knowledgeable than me on the subject of social business.  The first was a presentation Lee Bryant did a few months ago titled Social on the Outside needs Social Business on the Inside and the other was Dave Armano writing on Social Business Planning: Aligning Internal With External. I’ve copied Armano’s illustration below.

Skeptics might say that social business is just social media consultants trying to get an even bigger piece of the corporate spending pie, but I do not agree. Social media really makes it much more difficult to hide what previously you wanted to keep hidden, or to manage external communications at a speed and in a manner of your own choosing. In the past I tried answering the question, are there companies where social media makes little or no sense at all – and if so, are airlines such businesses, and that was really a forerunner to the bigger issue of how the internal structure of a company needs to be aligned with how the company wants to be perceived externally. It is just so much harder these days than in the past to sustain a gap between the two.

One of the tech companies frequently mentioned when it comes to the subject of social business is Atlassian. I’ve got a friend who works there and he speaks more highly of the company than just about anyone I know working for any company. I’ve also heard a few other people talking recently about one of their products called Confluence, and enterprise collaboration tool. What was especially interesting for me, given my own employment, was the Sabre case study on Confluence from Laks Krishnamoorthy, Director at Sabre Holdings

Some teams use it strictly for uploading materials and just as a communication vehicle, while other teams are using Confluence as their “religious” portal. They’re putting everything in it for their teams—their project plans, their rosters, the status of their nightly builds. These groups automated that process so that it feeds into our Weekly Report automatically. Our architecture team uses it fully to publish our enterprise architecture documents.

Moving away from social business completely, but still on the topic of Sabre, this video interview with their chief architect Chris Bird was also interesting, as towards the end he gives an insight into the rationale for their recent purchase of Calidris. Once again, probably more of interest to me personally than virtually anyone else reading this, but thanks for reading anyway.