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How Social Media is Changing Business How social media is changing everything about the way we do business.

By Jason Daley

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You may or may not work in a cube farm, but chances are you live in a silo. That's geek speak for the parts of our businesses and personal lives that are walled off from one another, intentionally or not--the marketing department exists in a separate silo from the product development team, which is isolated from the executive floor. Clients and their valuable opinions are walled off within customer service. We've become great at collecting information. But when it comes to sharing, the walls are still pretty thick.

Whatever you think about the current iteration of social media--whether you consider it a time suck, a marketing fad or the second coming--it's impossible to deny that it has begun breaking down the silos for businesses that have adopted it. Social media allows companies and their clients to communicate directly and frequently, forming strong relationships and even allowing them to collaborate on projects. Businesses adopt social applications and see it topple walls within traditional management structures.

Up until now, social media has been optional for businesses. But Charlene Li, one of the world's leading thinkers on social media and co-founder of the Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm in San Mateo, Calif., predicts that companies that do not get on the social media bandwagon soon--within three to five years--will not survive. It's not an overstatement to say social media is transforming every aspect of business.

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