I have find memories of my childhood (not that long ago really). My parents had started their own business and while times were relatively hard, it was nevertheless a simpler time back then. My father had always been in the fashion industry representing manufacturers to retail outlets. The way the industry worked was a mystery to me as a young lad as I found it hard to understand how my father would be showing next summers fashions to store buyers, some six months before summer actually started. I mean, who decides whats going to be in fashion and why?
Another impression that I have carried with me to this day was the way business was done. Don't get me wrong, with the large retail chains it was basically business done on the basis of ensuring they had enough of each particular size, style and colour based upon previous years sales, and their forecasts and budgets for the proceeding season. Instead it was the dealings with the multitude of smaller businesses that has remained with me.
The smaller business knew not only my father by name, and he knew them, but they knew mine. They also knew their clients and quiet often when I was in his office during summer vacations I would here a shop owner remark, “I will take that style in blue size 12 as that's perfect for Marie”. At the time that didn't strike me as anything unusual, it was just the way things were. People knew their clients. People knew their suppliers. It was a case of people doing business with people as that what business was.
And they same effect was repeated in almost every area of life at that time. The owner of the local Service Station knew me and my family and would tell me when we needed to get the car serviced without even checking any records. (this was before self service fuel / gas stations where they actually cleaned your windows, checked your oil and tyres).
Likewise the owner of the corner store knew the sweets that I liked, what sort of bread my family purchased and even knew our names.
Fast forward some 40 years and look at how we have progressed.
We work in cubicles where we sometimes see our colleagues at meetings or during breaks even though we sit six feet away from each other. The corner store is now part of a franchise chain with staff turning over almost as fast as their goods, and business has become a numbers game, inventory turnover, traffic flow, bulk purchasing and the like.
So where am I going with this?
Social Business is nothing new. It's always been there. It's just that large business has realised how distant they have become. Distant from their clients. Distant from their suppliers, and between employees, management and executives.
In short, Social Business is all about Big Business acting small. Becoming nimble, transparent and open. Just like small business was and still is.
Makes you think.