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Online 2011: Enterprise Social Media

Jacob Morgan from Chess Media Group gave the keynote in this session, discussing the results of a report from Chess Media on the state of enterprise social media.

He started with the bold statement that a truly collaborative organisation can make the world a better place. He went on to explain this: a collaborative organisation allow people to work smarter, reduce stress, and spend more time with their families and doing non-work stuff; hence, can change the world! He mentioned a US company that is aiming to move 30-40% of its workforce to full-time home working – unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of the company.

Jacob drew a distinction between social media and enterprise tools: are we trying to build social organizations, or collaborative organizations? He used an interesting quote here: “Social is what happens when you remove the business value from collaboration”. I’m not quite sure I agree, I think the social side of enterprise collaboration can be very important in building relationships within a company, but I get that a “business collaboration tool” is an easier sell to management than “social media”!

Some of the key findings of the report:

  • Most important business drivers: connecting geographically dispersed teams, increasing productivity, fostering employee engagement. Engagement = how fulfilled are you? Would you recommend your employer to a job seeker?
  • Traditionally these initiatives come from IT, but increasingly business units are bypassing IT. Possible due to cloud computing. Most commonly, input comes from both business units and IT.
  • Trend towards full feature products – i.e. covers blogging, microblogs, wikis, etc. Use one tool for everything rather than a suite of products for different tasks.
  • Smaller companies are more likely to use collaborative tools for business development and sales. As companies get bigger, focus moves towards marketing. Bigger still, shifts towards IT. Biggest companies are involved in innovation and product development.
  • Most effective approach uses a combination of structured and unstructured – i.e. providing guidelines to staff, but not being too restrictive in what people are aren’t allowed to do. This approach resulted in the most engagement.
  • Resistance to new tools/approaches came from managers (21%) and users (20%). 30% of those surveyed said they’d encountered no resistance – seems unlikely!
  • Most organisations put technology ahead of strategy. This is where many problems come from: what are the tools actually for? This was the main source of resistance from managers.
  • 60% had no KPIs in place before implementing enterprise tools. Of 25% that did, more than half didn’t know whether they were met. Value paradox – managers expect to see measurable results, but haven’t done any of the work necessary to be able to measure that.
  • Solving a business problem seen as just as useful as demonstrating financial ROI. Anecdotal evidence seen as acceptable, so KPIs don’t need to be data driven as long as you can demonstrate a problem solved.
  • “Busy” metrics are not useful – e.g. how many comments left, level of traffic on a platform. That tells you how busy your employees are, but not how engaged they are. To know how engaged employees are, ask about staff morale. Also ask for anecdotal evidence – how have the tools made your work easier?

The second speaker, Stephen Dale, talked about his experience of building a knowledge hub as part of a local government knowledge management strategy.

Stephen was involved in a 3 year local government KM strategy, starting in 2005. The strategy was aimed at connecting people with people, rather than relying on websites for info dissemination. Communities of practice hub was set up, the idea being to share knowledge without hierarchy. Wanted to integrate legacy enterprise infrastructure, web services and social media, and to find a way to leverage information already existing in silos, particularly that locked away in email.

Some of the problems with the current state of social media: social networks have proliferated, leading to social networking fatigue! It’s ever harder to know which network to join to get in on the conversation. When you do join one, you then have the problem of finding which conversation to join. If you join LinkedIn, there are so many groups – which do you join? Where do you go first to ask a question? If you start using Twitter, your first problem is going to be finding people to follow, and finding ways to join conversations that are already happening.

(I should note here that the above is just a report of what Stephen said – I actually don’t agree. I am firmly of the “just dive in and give it a try” school of thought when it comes to social media. I think that if you’re so hung up on which network to join, what groups to join, who to follow, etc, then you’re really missing the point. The beauty of social media is that it is unstructured – there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just give it a go!)

In addition, the conversations getting more granular and disaggregated – are we just creating more silos? Thousands of communities of pratice exist on the local government hub, but many are talking about the same thing, just not to each other.

Changing the email paradigm is still a huge problem. People still send info “because you might need it some time”. Need to move to the social model where everyone shares what they know, so you can trust that the info will be there when you need it.

  • Knowledge hub requirements:
  • Easy to use, intuitive and guided
  • Powerful semantic search
  • Greater permeability with external net words
  • Seamless integration with email
  • Support for mobile platforms
  • Mashup tools and apps
  • Useful analytics

Should:

  • Connect with people with similar interests
  • Help me answer questions
  • Surface relevant info
  • Encourage participation

Stephen noted that the obvious question is why develop a knowledge hub when there are free alternatives? He explained that if you’re using a free product, the data does not belong to you. Always remember: if it’s free then you are the product, not the customer. Also, getting locked into a proprietary format can cause problems down the line. Open source can be a better way to go if you want full, ongoing control.

Conclusions:

  • Increasing social network fatigue – desire for one place to do business
  • Enterprise solutions must integrate with internal and external networks
  • Enterprise must be seen to add value
  • Mash-ups and apps offer new opportunities
  • Mobile is overtaking desktop in popularity – MUST develop for mobile, can’t be an afterthought
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