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Germany leads global enterprise social push

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German firms were hailed as the surprise global leaders in social business, according to a panel of industry experts who emphasised the importance of process, measurement and cultural fit in enterprise social programs.

IBM’s VP of social business evangelism, Sandy Carter, told attendees at the Social Media Matters conference in Hong Kong on Friday that it’s the highly process-oriented nature of German businesses that makes their social projects so successful.

She gave the example of pharmaceutical company Bayer, which wrapped social media into its patent creation processes and apparently witnessed a snowballing of innovation and collaboration which led to a 15 per cent increase in the number of patents it generated.

Measuring return on investment, whether it’s internally or externally focused, is equally important to the success of corporate social media programs, even if it presents challenges, Carter added.

“It’s still early days but you have to measure what you can. Do like the Germans and measure your processes before and after,” she said.

Business leaders and CIOs were also encouraged to be honest with themselves because for some organisations there simply won’t be a tight enough cultural fit to ensure success with certain social projects.

“You need a culture which is accepting of ideas from any level of the organisation and not a lot of companies have that today,” said Carter.

Cisco’s VP of marketing for APAC, Japan and Greater China, Sabrina Lin, explained the problems that can occur when corporate culture and other pressures negatively impact social engagement programs.

“It can be a resourcing nightmare,” she said. “At one point half of our microsites were not updated for 12 months and no-one noticed. You need to proactively end-of-life these things.”

Former Yahoo! VP, Ken Mandel, who’s now APAC MD of recent Salesforce acquisition Buddy Media, argued that organisations serious about social need to make it easier for all of their knowledge workers to upload content to the web quickly and easily.

“A micro site with no fresh content is like a conversation with one person not saying anything,” he added. “You shouldn’t have to go through a four day process.” ®

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