I've been spending quite a bit of time recently thinking about and discussing social business. The result of this has been the following model (click to enlarge), which demonstrates what I've come to understand as the three interlocking spheres of social business:
Starting at the bottom left is content. Both inside and outside the intranet, content is the currency of online conversation.
People participate around content and use it to convey knowledge. You'll see both of these linked to the other two spheres of social business, collaboration and connections.
Collaboration forms around shared content and, where connections are made, can be seen as online working groups – groups with a shared interest or practice, working together towards a common goal.
Of course, collaboration both comes from, and leads to, increased connections – people with a shared or overlapping role within an organisation find and connect to each other through social media.
People who have made connections are often willing to work together (collaboration). They also often share best practice, usually by sharing knowlege in the form of content, thus completing the circle.
In other words, the sharing of content, leads to connections based upon that content, which breeds collaboration. That's social business.
However, to me, social business is about more than just internal collaboration – it's also about connecting up the valuable insights and engagements an organisation has with stakeholder audiences (externally) with business processes (internal). So the model above needs some work to take the interface between internal and external into account.
I'm beginning to think that it might be an outer ring to the model shown, because those contacts with stakeholders/audiences/consumers outside the firewall generate content, can involve collaboration, and certainly lead to connections.
I'm hoping to continue work on this, but am keen to hear your thoughts on what I think could become a particularly useful model in helping explain how social business works.