Social Business is a business Model. And why it’s important to know that

In short : What are we talking about when talking of Social Business ? A philosophy or a value creation model. Only the second option is viable and allow to draw all the necessary consequences.

Without trying to play the endless game of defining social business (even if I have the nice impression that the definition contest that happened for enterprise 2.0 is not happening in this field), it’s interesting to know in which category the concept falls in. An enterprise philosophy ? A management theory ? A marketing concept ? It’s easy to understand that it will be seen differently depending the box it fits in.

Seeing how things are evolving and setting up I’m more and more inclined to think that Social Business is mainly a business model. As a matter of fact it’s a model that explains how to transform and mobilize resources and assets to create value. Let’s look at this in details.


Resources, value, and how to go from the one to the other

Resources :

– knowledge

– people

– relational capital

– reputation

– creative and problem solving capabilities, ideas

– data

Mobilization and transformation happen through :

– engagement : necessary for people to deliver their full potential. This is also related to HR, wellbeing and management

– analytics : to make sense of scattered and non-structured social data and identify patterns. Necessary to decision making.

– processes : to (re)built, adapt, make adaptive and able to improve over experience.

The whole to

– create and improve knowledge

– develop competences

– make decisions

– solve problems

What is key to tangible value creation in a post industrial economy.

Why is that so important ?


As a matter of fact if Social Business is a marketing concept one is free to pay attention to it or not and, anyway, we all know that the purpose is  not to serve the final customer. If it’s a philosophy one is free to adopt it or not and the decision will be made on values and beliefs, not tangible facts. But if it’s a business model things are different.

A philosophy can be discussed. Not a rational business model.

If we consider that the resources involved here are of little importance and that their value can be delivered without changing anything anywhere there’s use to waste more time on the matter. But, if this is your point of view, you’d better read this interview of Deloitte’s John Hagel before you quit this conversation once and for all.

If we consider that not only these assets matter (for information their represent up to 80% of businesses’ valuation), that making the most of them is important and that adapted operating models are required to do so, then it changes a lot of things.

As a matter of fact it’s about the businesses’ reason for being. Mobilize assets to fulfill their mission in an economically viable way. If we see Social Business as a business model and admit that our value creation models should adapt the world that’s ours, it leads to an incredible number of consequences. First at the C level and the will to do more than window-dressing change and enforce a global and coherent model at the enterprise scale, leaving no room for local quarrel or egos that would prevent from moving forward.

Such a view requires a total, full and unconditional alignment of the entire organization with the model. It justifies impacts on management, HR (job descriptions, performance reviews models, learning and knowledge sharing models….) with a rational argument that demonstrates the productive nature of the change (which is not obvious at all when the subject is only seen as a matter of values). Same from processes and operating models.

The other solution is to acknowledge we’re happy with a wobbly business models that does not work in today’s world and destroys more value than it creates.

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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