A couple of weeks ago I received an email from IBM Press about Sandy Carter’s new book ‘Get Bold‘. Shortly afterwards, my copy arrived. I’m not one for reading many IT books – most of my library comprises fiction, often based in the Classical world. But I was interested to get a bit more of a background on social business, one of the main IBM Collaboration Solution themes in 2011.

I will freely admit that although I get social – I blog, I take part in forums, I am one of the hosts of The XCast, and I speak at user groups – I was far from convinced about the role of Domino and XPages in social business. Yes, there are blog templates, and the wiki and forum templates. Yes, there have been announcements about social controls in the Extension Library. But why would a line of business application be integrated with Twitter or Facebook? Within a small business partner, what scope is there for incorporating social into bespoke applications? So how seriously could social business impact my work, other than my interest in being involved in the community?

That was my opinion before I read the book. If you’re similarly unconvinced, you MUST read the book. Before I was 12 pages in, my scepticism was gone and I was certain this was an extremely important book for any business. Sandy’s examples early on, both of the impact negative for Domino pizzas of comments in social spaces and her own experience of a comment about a hotel she made on Foursquare both show why any business must become a social business. Because with the explosion of social media opinions can be given by anyone in a wide breadth of media to a huge audience. If you have customers who use social media, if you have employees who use social media, if your employees are part of social communities, your business needs to be aware of what is being said about it. Employees now work outside the firewall in wider communities that are not hierarchical. Equally businesses need to foster those kinds of communities, capture that knowledge, and identify those useful external communities within the firewall. This book clearly and concisely provides businesses with an AGENDA to take the steps required to become socially aware.

Sandy Carter’s enthusiasm for the topic and expertise comes through in every word. her narrative style is clear and well-presented with concise topics and a visible direction that makes this easy to read for C-level execs or employees wishing to embrace a social role within their companies. Powerful case studies are included throughout the book and stand out well. The chapters are split up well to cover all the areas a business should address when starting to become social, whether at organisational, departmental or business-role levels. The topic is a very important one, and this book is a useful bible for any nascent social business.

Synchronicity offers it’s own amusing anecdotes to life. The night I had finished reaing the book I came across an article about Starbucks, who had fired an employee for posting a YouTube video dressed in his Starbucks apron and commenting negatively about customers. One of the key messages from ‘Get Bold’ is that social responses need to be timely and agile. Starbucks response took 2 months. One wonders about the impact that video has had on Starbucks’ reputation as a result of the time taken to respond. It’s the kind of example found within the book and shows why Sandy’s message is so important for any business.

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