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Social climber

Being social is being smart, particularly in the Gulf, says Mark McDonald, Group Vice President, Gartner, and co-author of The Social Organization.

Every organisation is social.  They are social in the sense that every organisation consists of people, their relationships, knowledge, energy and engagement. However, few organisations are social in the sense that they actively leverage those relationships and knowledge to achieve strategic objectives.  Becoming more social is a strategy that naturally fits the needs of organisations in the Gulf.

Consider the situation facing organisations in the region whose growth strategies rely on extending their products, services and expertise to markets outside of the region.

Historically, growing outside of home markets involved copying, extending and customising business practices and processes into local markets. Organisations repeat this process for each country and market.  The result is increasing complexity and fragmentation as the company consists of individual country-based business units.

How can an organisation tailor itself to meet local market needs while retaining the scale, innovation and sense of a common culture? The answer is to become more social.

For companies in the Gulf, this means building on cultural traditions and values, and using social media to invite deeper engagement among customers and associates. Extending the enterprise beyond selling products and services provides a way to create local markets out of many common components.

Here is how it can work

Traditionally, the company bears the cost and complexity of copying and customising to local needs. The company also bears the risk.  Get the localisation wrong and the company misses their plans and projections.

Consider the alternative, where local customers, suppliers and personnel add local context to products and services. By using social media, prospects and customers can discuss how products and services fit local needs. Professionals respond to customer questions and share experiences and best practices. Social media-based contextualisation provides local ‘colour’ around global products, as well as creating connections

In addition, deploying social media internally creates connections between countries via internal collaborative communities. CEMEX, the global cement company, provides an example via their ‘SHIFT!’ social media initiative.  SHIFT! draws together CEMEX associates from around the world to collaborate on common corporate goals such as sustainability, organic growth and a culture of innovation. Social media reduces the gap between countries to share experiences, ideas and best practices. Participants in SHIFT! increasingly identify themselves with the company, where previously they associated themselves with their country.

Adding a social dimension is smart for growth and innovation

Companies in the Gulf sit at the social, economic, geo-political and logistical crossroads of the world. The region has been a trade and transfer point driven by logistics and natural resources.

Developing the region’s commercial base involves not only building local companies to serve local markets, but also extending those companies into global markets in India, Africa and the rest of the Middle East.

That extension brings local culture and custom into play, creating the need for a more social solution to replace standard business practices based on copying and customising operations to each country.

The customs, culture and companies in the Gulf are already among the more social in the world. Leveraging that social nature into business models and growth strategies builds upon this strength, and helps resolve the issue of complexity via country customisation.

Creating a social organisation to engage customers, and trade partners and associates, represents a smart strategy for growing locally while retaining global capability and scale.

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