"We wanted to give students an unstructured, real-life problem to solve where they had to get on the phone and dig for information and drill down," Gee says. "Say you're in the CIO's office and a marketing or HR person comes to you and says, 'I read about this thing called social business. How can we effectively use that in our organization?' That's what they're trying to solve."
To help students gather information for their assessments, GBS provided a dedicated sponsor who was available every week for Q&A sessions, webinars, phone calls and email conversations. IBM also provided the students with access to both social business experts with whom they could collaborate and the cloud-based environment through which the program took place.
Using these resources, Gee's students performed social business assessments, specifically looking at GBS's marketing environment, how it collaborated internally and built connections with suppliers.
The second phase, Gee says, focused on building prototypes to model what GBS should be doing, ultimately resulting in a social business plan that they presented at the end of the semester. Gee and GBS chose the teams with the best solutions and presentations.
GBS, Gee says, is applying some of the students' recommendations within their business right now. These include suggestions for making better use of blogs, videos, a better flow of information and collaboration improvements.
"This was a great way for students to preview what will happen within the next strategic period of how businesses will operate," Gee says. "Social business is laying the foundation of how future leaders will operate in the next generation."
Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and enterprise collaboration for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at email@example.com
Read more about it organization in CIO's IT Organization Drilldown.