Social business might be a phrase that’s been coined in recent times but, to my mind, it’s an old-fashioned idea.
Back before telecommunications, technology and pervasive transportation (for both goods and people) every business was a local business. It’s customers, employees and suppliers all came from the local community. By its very nature, therefore, it was also a social business. The business owner would know all his customers by name, he’d know their friends and families and, by default, they’d also know his. Employees, customers and suppliers would meet in the local pub and around the dinner table. The business couldn’t helo but operate in an open and transparent way.
As the ability to service consumers remotely grew nationally and internationally and as businesses became more remote from their customers, organisations became less social (and in some cases positively anti-social). Suppliers were working with factories thousands of miles from the retailers, with the corporate HQ hidden away somewhere else.
But social technologies allow customers to talk to each other wherever they may be and whatever their views; they allow employees to air their grievances with the company or their passion for their jobs; they allow unethical or environmentally-damaging production to be highlighted and socially-beneficial activities to be seen around the globe. Every business is a local business, it just happens that ‘local’ now means the entire planet.