@tiffanywinman wrote a good post at the IBM Software Blog to celebrate Social Media Day. It’s full of impressive statistics which show how far IBM has come as a social business and the impressive number of employees who are part of this transformation. All the more need for Partners to get up to speed and to leverage and take advantage of that massive IBM investment. I see Partners being the ones dragging the chain.
I had a minor twitch when I read that IBM has been using social software for 15 years. I think that a lot of firms have been using traditional collaborative tools, but they have not transformed into social businesses – so in that sense IBM is devaluing it’s own achievements in social business by claiming to have been doing it for so long.
That’s a pity because they are one of the most social media savvy organisations on the planet, at the same level of social business development as Microsoft, and the very astute EMC, and the highly invested Cisco. Even though Microsoft has topped IBM in a couple of polls of social business (Microsoft tops social media savvy companies – survey), these businesses are all clustered up in the high achievers.
Social business is about reinventing customer relationships, and this also means with Partners and the channel. I consistently see that the channel is the tortoise in this race to social business, and that they fail to really and fundamentally pick up on the assets which the vendors are providing them through the social business transformation. Microsoft is focusing on partner enablement through social business as a competitive edge, and also to help move their channel partners to better understand the customer buying process.
IBM is also directing many initiatves towards Partners, to help them grow their social media skills, social media marketing skills, and social business transformation. The IBM post outlines many of these, and there’s been great work done by @sandy_carter – see IBM’s social media skills initiative for partners.
There are so many reasons why channel partners should connect with vendors and current customers in social media, yet, as I said, on the whole they seem slow to take advantage. I think that the push to cloud is going to accelerate the pressure on the channel to change, and especially when offers like Microsoft’s Office365 start to gain critical mass. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
To do that, to transform, they need a good strategy. And to develop a good social business strategy Partners need time (and resources). But luckily they have great examples in their vendors, and the smart partners will work that for everything that it is worth – and the vendors will pleased to help, it’s their future at stake as well!
What’s the partner maturity level in social business that you see? – please comment below.