Last week, the Dutch Financial Times reported that the Netherlands moved up to the seventh place in the yearly competitiveness index by the World Economic Forum (WEF). To close the gap with the top five, social innovation needs to be tackled. Not only raising R&D budgets, but also better innovation management and work smarter.

This is where an Open Business, through social media data and techs can help sustain and persue competitive and innovative abilities, because social media supports and enriches business agility and continual innovation.

At the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP)  conference, last April, David Meerman Scott said “Speed and agility bring competitive advantage…Act now before the window of opportunity vanishes.” In a real-time world, this is of squared importance. Social media are both the cause and the means to create competitive advantages within the window of opportunity.

Business agility

In the ever increasing competitive landscapes business agility is the business’ capability to adapt rapidly and cost-efficient to the demands of the landscape and its target audiences.

By using social media as a doorway and opening up the business to the outside world, the entities that actually force/create the changes in demands are involved (actively or inactively). Social media technologies enable efficient and effective collaboration, knowledge sharing and management and spurs innovative employees (according to a TNO research). Bottom-up innovation by all close to their expertise.

Continual innovation

Sharon Daniels explained what continual innovation is:

“Continual innovation may be the most powerful of any competitive advantage for a business. It creates game-changing breakthroughs. Along parallel lines, bit by bit, it also tweaks improvements in existing products, chips away at costs and debugs processes — in every corner of the company, all non-stop. In a turbulent business environment like today’s, it’s essential for helping a business move from playing defense to playing an aggressive, and winning, offense.”

Both from within and outside the organization this is persued. Social media intelligence from the outside can be extracted and flowed back into the organization. From within, employees who are on top of their work can tackle inefficiencies, propose ideas and collaborate on finetuning processes and outcomes to meet their (overarching) goals.

Organizational pillars

The organization’s pillars (technologies, people and processes) needs to be reconfigured to support business agility and continual innovation through social media. This is key otherwise inefficiencies and gaps in the business model will occur. In this article I referred about this in relation to social media intelligence. Getting back to Scott’s window of opportunity and speed, not having reconfigured the pillars will slow down speed and benefitting from opportunities.


Below you will find a couple of departmental examples where social media are supporting agility and ongoing innovation, achieving cost-efficiencies and better outputs:

Communications: refined and relevant communications planning based on the target audience and market. By understanding the target audience and adapting planning to it, cost-efficiency will occur with a better output.

CSR: Kotler’s Marketing 3.0 says that organizations need to go beyond monetary growth and profit in this post-growth economy. CSR is not an obligation but an important opportunity to differentiate the business model intrinsically and adapting to the needs and anxieties of its customers. Social media intelligence uncovers these anxieties and needs and their technologies enable cost-efficient engagement and word of mouth.

Product management: through co-creation or at least analysing conversations about products and services will enable more effective development cycles. Continuous feedback loops shorten the process and achieve better outputs-to-market. collaborative launches with its involved external stakeholders will lower the costs-to-market (such as advertising costs and the dependancy on agencies).

Research: Social media research is a rich additional stream of intelligence that informs iteratively strategies. The organization is able to finetune its paths based on facts and evidence. Social media research offers a cost-efficient capability in relation to conventional researches, papers, insights and so on.

By Gianluigi Cuccureddu

About the author:

Gianluigi CuccuredduGianluigi Cuccureddu, contributing editor, is an experienced writer specializing in innovation, open business, new media and marketing. He is also Managing Partner of the 90:10 Group, a global Open Business consultancy, which helps clients open their activity directly and indirectly to external stakeholders through the use of social media, its data and technologies for the purpose of competitive advantages in marketing, service- and product innovation.