There’s a reason Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have taken the world by storm. Human beings are wired to be social. Social media simply taps into our inherent need to connect and share with others.

Businesses are inherently social as well. After all, they’re composed of people. And those people have to work together toward common objectives. The more effectively people work together, the more successful the business can be. 

But mainstream social media apps such as Facebook don’t meet the needs of business. For one thing, they’re not sufficiently secure or governable. For another, they don’t provide the right functionality — business users need to collaboratively edit documents, not share funny cat videos.

That’s why businesses can benefit from tools that facilitate social collaboration between employees, suppliers, partners and customers. These tools make it as easy for authorized communities of knowledge workers to collaborate as Facebook makes it for college classmates to stay in touch.

The result is improved information sharing, faster project completion, fewer dropped balls and better customer experiences.

The IBM solution

IBM Connections Cloud offers particularly compelling value to companies that “get” the importance of frictionless collaboration. This complete solutions portfolio includes social messaging, file sharing, social task management, web conferencing and more. These capabilities are all useful individually. Together, however, they create a game-changing collaboration environment that can radically improve business performance.

To understand its impact, it helps to compare social collaboration with email. Email certainly still has its place. But if you’ve ever tried to work on a document with more than one other person via email, you know what a nightmare it is. Different versions of the same document are passed back and forth at different times, with different markups. No one can be sure if all the changes are consolidated on the latest version, and work is often delayed when one team member has to review something.

Social collaboration eliminates these problems. With IBM’s social tools, teams can add input, exchange ideas and argue about commas quickly and easily — so work gets done faster, turns out better and consumes less of everyone’s time. Apply the same principle to resolving customer problems, developing go-to-market strategies or propagating sales best practices, and the impact on your business can be significant.

Another big advantage of IBM Connections is that it easily allows you to collaborate securely outside your organization. There’s no charge for external users, so inviting a customer, supplier or partner to work with you online is as simple as entering their email address.

Because IBM Connections is available both on-premises and in the cloud, it fits the budget of even the smallest business, while permitting the kind of customization and control required by the largest organization.

Real-World Benefits

With all the other tough challenges businesses face today, the idea of improved collaboration can seem a bit abstract. But the benefits social collaboration delivers are very real. Here are just a few examples:

  • Sporting goods leader Cabela’s increased its sales-per-labor-hour by nearly 10 percent by enabling top-performing store managers to share their winning techniques with lower-performing peers.
  • International manufacturer Bosch compressed cycle times for key processes from 40 days to six days by enabling teams to better collaborate across time zones, languages and cultures.
  • TD Bank turned an idea from an employee in one of its smallest branches into the biggest productivity gain for its retail business through social-enabled amplification up to the executive suite.

These are just a few examples of how the same social principles that made Kim Kardashian a celebrity can work in a practical way for any business.

Siloed, isolated workplaces aren’t useful in today’s fast-moving markets. Nor are they sufficiently engaging for millennials who have grown up with social media. So I encourage you to discover IBM Connections Cloud and transform your organization’s approach to collaborating.