The business world has undergone many revolutions in the past: the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, the influx of female workers in the mid-1900s and now the rise of the Digital Age.
The internet in particular has spurred substantial change in the way organizations do business, both internally and with customers. One of those evolutions includes the possibility of the social enterprise.
In the past, the most innovative techniques and technologies were typically reserved for large companies and corporations, but that's no longer the case today. In fact, many smaller firms are using social enterprise strategies as a way to level the playing field.
"Having now seen so many high-end ventures around the world with a social mission, we have learnt the importance of branding and how this can make or break a product," Nina Rennie, founder of Nueluxe, recently told The Guardian.
Social enterprise doesn't refer to a specific technology – it's an organizational strategy that aims to produce improvements across the workplace. A successful one would impact a number of business goals.
In a recent blog post for Co.Exist, Ashoka UK director Mark Cheng highlighted several ways social entrepreneurship can help, including:
– Boosting collaboration: The benefits of collaborative organizations are enormous – enhanced communications and innovation, just to name a couple – which will ultimately lead to cost savings and increased revenue. Cheng highlighted that in a social enterprise, "power is moving from the few to the many," thus leading to more flexible teams across the workplace.
– Integration of silos: In the past, most companies built up datasets entirely independent from one another. Sales information, HR databases, employee healthcare information and everything else hardly ever crossed paths. But the recent rise of business intelligence and data analysis tools have prompted the need for more integrated data systems, according to the blog post.
– Marketing technology: Different technological innovations enable companies to monitor human behavior, and perhaps no one could benefit from these tools more than marketers.
"Look at diamonds," Paul Cheng, chairman of SharedImpact, told The Guardian. "The product isn't valuable at all, they're just colored rocks. But actually diamond companies over 150 years have been incredibly clever at marketing, and made diamonds aspirational, and incredibly valuable. So I'm interested in how we can use behavioral economics, to sell social enterprise to investors."
Many marketing teams are using technology like predictive analytics to get ahead on consumer trends and identify current problems, and the use of these tools will almost certainly increase.