Monday, 27 February 2012

The benefits of Social Business 1/2

This post is the first in a series of six that deals with Social Business and Social Enterprise. The goal of the series: to explore the pros and cons of Social Business and Social Enterprise, given the current odds, and fast-forwarding to business opportunities now and in the near future

This post is about the benefits of Social Business, part one of two. It will relate the history of Business, and I'm sorry but that does take up an entire blog post - ask Socrates.
The definition of Social Business is this:
Social Business deals with business exceptions rather than rules, requiring flexible answers to complex questions in dynamic environments. As such, it isn't about giving predefined answers to predictable questions, it is about giving unpredictable answers to undefined questions.
Social Business serves best where an increased distance between people on all sides is negatively affecting business as a whole.
Social Business is best for establishing ties between unknown people.
As such, it will gradually replace distance by proximity, thus swapping anonymity for intimacy

The quote is taken from my Social Business (R)evolution freeBook, except for the part in bold that I added. I felt that I had to state the goal more clear in the definition itself: Social basically could / should undo the negative effects of economies of scale

So let's take all the Social we can imagine, and throw that to the current way we do business, and see where the benefits are

1. Back when everything was Social

Let's start at the point when everything was swell: 5-2,000 years ago when there were farmers, shepherds, blacksmiths, and carpenters. Just taking a few of the professions here who provided us with the most necessary food and non-food. Either you knew each of them personally, or you knew them because they were referred to you by people you knew. Trade was local or regional at best, and travelling distance a few hours or days - customer service was far, far away, so everything was based on trust

Basically, this model closely followed our own circles: friends, and friends of friends - close relatives, and distant relatives. You might have never seen or even heard of uncle or aunt X or Y, but they were family - so you could trust them

2. The departure from Social into So-So

When larger habitats such as cities started to form, the circles widened: in stead of buying from friends or friends of friends, you'd be confronted with friends of friends of friends, or complete strangers - the thin line got thinner even, and the "blue eyes trust" got questionable.
Chances of hearing about a product, or successfully complaining about it got slimmer

Fast forward a few centuries: brands formed. in stead of buying bread, you'd buy a Registered North London Bakery's bread (just making them up as we go), and for lumber or carpentry you'd visit North Hampton Lumber Jacks (dito) - or one of their subsidiaries fo course. Money is a great and solid example of trying to take away fear, uncertainty and doubt: banks formed (no giggling please, back then it was a really great and much called for achievement)

What do we see there? We see individuals growing apart, due to distance, and we see the traders form larger groups in order to close the widening gap, and bring back trust to the level it was at

So, proximity lessens, distance increases - and intimacy gets replaced by anonymity

There, my friends, is the problem at hand that we all are confronted with - regardless of your belief in Social Business: we buy on faith, rather than trust

3. The Metropolis Metaphor

Society grew bigger, larger cities formed. Not hundreds or thousand, nor tens of thousands, but hundreds of thousands came to live in the same "place". Friends of freinds of friends of friends? People lost count, naturally. The rubber band of trust and faith was met with yet another dimension: religion

You could buy from, and / or sell to, people from the same religion. Religion was an invention and allowance that stretched beyond the ancient frontiers , and desperately tried to justify everyday demand and supply. It crossed nations, international waters and continents, and as long as you were on the right side of religion, it worked wonders for you

4. The future of now: "design"

We live by the brand - most of us believe most of what we're told. We still are just people, who want stuff: that makes us consumers in the eyes of most, and customers in the eyes of the few evil-minded companies that claim our acquaintance before they have earned it.
We are marionets that get played by marketeers, and we love it: our youth wear pants well below their ass, and we think they're making asses of themselves by doing so. Yet, they think they're cool. It's the new-found religion: fashion. Many gods this time, seems like we're back to beyond 2,000 years...

What do we see there? We see individuals growing apart, due to distance, and we see the traders form larger groups in order to close the widening gap, and bring back trust to the level it was at

Again. Yet, different

In the next post, let's see where this ends up at: we'll take all the known tools and best practices currently known and see how they can help to undo the negative effects of the last millennia, as well as spur the needs of the last decade

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