Thanks for the great question. My short, quick answer is that social business is “social” in the sense that it (a) enhances modes of collaboration that already exist in an organization (e.g., high definition video conferencing adds another social dimension to teleconferencing); and (b), enables new modes of collaboration (e.g., technology enabled crowd sourcing or collaborations in virtual reality). In other words, I’m suggesting that the “social” in social business reflects differences of degree and kind from traditional approaches to business collaboration. Reasonable people can disagree about where (or whether) to draw the line between those categories. Also, it may be that “social” becomes a broader concept than “collaboration.” I hope it does.
I wouldn’t say that an organization that fails to engage in social business is nonsocial. Rather, such a company would be stuck with traditional, low-tech approaches to collaboration. Most companies that have real employees and real products are social in some sense, but not every company has deployed social tools that enable new forms of collaboration. Only companies that are using social tools to deepen or enable new modes of collaboration would count as a “social business.” I see no contradiction there.
I’m interested to hear what you and others think about the term “social business.” If you have a point of view on this issue, please share your thoughts.