Conversations on the Future of Business: The Power of Networks

developing business networks through social mediaNetworks today come down to two basic things – people and technology – but the emergence of the cloud and big data, and the widespread use of social media and mobile technology, is revolutionizing our understanding of what networks are and what they can do for us.

People from the executive suite to the factory floor are seeing how networks are changing the face of industry, and they want to understand how they can harness the power of networks to help them grow and improve their business. Increasingly, these conversations are taking place across all industries and all lines of business—and they are critical to the future of business.

Why do networks matter?

“Networks today are transforming business as dramatically as assembly lines did 100 years ago,” according to Tim Minahan, senior vice president of network strategy and chief marketing officer for Ariba. Although initially aimed at simply increasing efficiency, business networks are increasingly about providing insights that enable greater collaboration, better customer service and more informed decision making.

“With the advent of mobility and big data, there are a lot more networks and they are connected at a much lower level in the organization,” says Quentin Fisher of CSC, “which allows companies to be much more agile and adaptive.“

Today, business networks are reaching beyond corporate walls to help solve global problems:  building smart cities; managing energy and other precious resources better; and helping aid organizations provide faster and more effective disaster relief.

Why are businesses going social?

People no longer really live in the city where they sleep; they spend many of their waking hours with other members of their global tribe of friends, colleagues and acquaintances—sharing information and opinions about everything that interests them.

Businesses are joining that conversation in increasing numbers, including many Fortune 500 companies, as Steve Olenski, senior creative content strategist at Responsys, recently reported on, and trying to figure out how to make stronger, deeper and more creative connections with consumers and other businesses.

How will the Internet of Things change the world?

The Internet of Things, which is sometimes called Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication, is making it possible for us to create dynamic connections between everyday objects such as our home appliances, thermostats, cars and smartphones and, in turn, to enable more integrated, fluid and convenient lifestyles.

But the Internet of Things isn’t only about warming up your house remotely when you’re on your way home or having your refrigerator tell you when you’re low on milk, as exciting as those developments may be. This technology has far bigger implications. Along with creating a host of new business opportunities for companies of all sizes, it may even save lives. What if a heart patient’s pacemaker could send an alert to her mobile phone, and notify her doctor, if there was a problem such as a low battery.

Defining the future of business networks

The diversity and complexity of today’s networks, their convergence to form new connections between people and things, and their power to change lives and transform businesses is increasing at a breathtaking rate. And companies everywhere are racing to catch up.

Continue the discussion on the power of networks with your peers and thought leaders.