Renowned multinational technology and consulting corporation, IBM has scored a first in Nigeria’s IT sector with its innovation tagged “Business Gets Social 2012”. The 101 year-old-company is known for the manufacture and sales of computer hardware and software while it also offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services.
According to Richard Shasanya, the CEO of Avance Systems, IBM’s business partner, the development of the new program became necessary because every few years, advancements in technology and the evolution of business meet at the nexus of a cultural shift that fundamentally changes how business gets done. He disclosed that businesses are now deploying exciting new collaborative tools to enable a more dynamic, increasingly mobile and idea laden work force to create the new “social business”.
Shasanya also disclosed that “the exciting introduction of social business into Nigeria is engaged in connecting people to expertise, transparent in removing unnecessary boundaries between experts inside the country and experts in the marketplace, nimble in using social networks to gain real-time insight and make quicker and better decisions.” He spoke on the need to close the gap between traditional ways of working and the new world in which we now operate.
One other factor that brought the idea of social business into existence is that “people and their ideas have become central to the business again. And these social computing tools are enabling enterprises to tap into the collective individual capital of their employees as geographically dispersed people are now collaborating and sharing ideas more productively than ever before through intelligent, interconnected systems.” He noted that with IBM’s innovation, customer relations would deepen and data would be exchanged faster.
Avance Systems, IBM’s partner in the introduction of ICS (IBM Collaboration Solutions) to Nigeria have made it known that by connecting people and accelerating decision-making, social collaboration helps people deepen relationships, generate and share new ideas faster and increase their productivity. The company further stated at a Press Conference held at the Da Vinci Suite of the Victoria Crown Palace Hotel, Victoria Island that “to ensure that this new way of working becomes part of the DNA of the organisation, many companies are turning to end-to-end collaboration platforms and embedding social business tools throughout the enterprise.” ICS products that are being introduced into the country include Lotus Domino and Notes, Lotus Connections, Websphere PortalLotus Sametime and Lotus Quickr.
Those who spoke at the conference included Richard Shasanya, CEO of Avance Systems, Gary Swale, the Business Development Director of Knowledge Dimension in in Johannesburg, South Africa and Chetan Rao of the Tiger Team, Middle East and Africa.
Rao noted that Social Business operates with a “people-centric” approach as it encourages collaboration. It works by deeply connecting people thereby empowering them and encouraging interaction.
While speaking on the advantages of Social Business, Mr. Rao disclosed that it will go a long way to increase workforce effectiveness and it will also create the right connection for companies.
He cited an example of IBM, a company with 500,000 employees in over 150 countries; he disclosed that IBM has become more like a community where it is possible for the CEO to comment on peoples’ walls. He also disclosed that the company plans to engage people on how business is done.
Gary Sweale said “we are showing people another way of communicating in an organisation”. And while answering questions on how attractive Social Business would be to companies, he disclosed that the first question that would come to mind is “what is the average age of workers in the organisation” as the younger generation is more conversant with advancements in the technological world. When he was asked whether the issue of company chiefs who would feel the product might serve as a distraction to their employees has been considered, Sweale pointed out that in a lot of companies; people are barred from using e-mails other than their company e-mail but that has not stopped employees from communicating. “People still find a way around it,” he said.
Chentelle van Heerding however chipped it in that it is a matter of trust and that of knowing right from wrong. If the company trusts you enough to allow you to use the product, then you should not breach that trust.
While chatting with Street Journal’s Editor after the conference, Gary Sweale gave an analogy to exemplify the ability of younger people to adapt to changes in technology. He disclosed that when he first bought an iPad and told the CIO, he said “oh, that’s wonderful. ” Gary went on that “he took me to his office and gave me a big book on how to use an iPad. But when I told my immediate boss, who is much younger, he said okay come to my office. And in five minutes, he gave me a lecture so many things I could do with the iPad.”