A company is a group of individuals. No one knows what everyone else knows. But social and real-time communication tools can help them tap each other’s knowledge and capabilities in new ways. It can provide a platform for helping the many operate as one because each person can be only a step away from the knowledge that other people have.
It can also bring knowledgeable and creative people from isolated departments to the forefront of the organization. Bold new ideas and answers to difficult questions surface from all corners, improving the overall success of the company while giving high-value contributors much needed recognition.
Tapping knowledge and capabilities can also create new relationships. And new relationships can create a new kind of company, with new roles and interactions. People inside and outside the company have a voice, and value is created together with clients, partners, vendors, alumni, and other stakeholders.
Taking the users with you,however, is one of the most difficult challenges in establishing any new working practices in your organization. Whether you are implementing an ERP system or a social business solution obtaining user engagement is a key challenge faced by project managers everywhere.
The most important thing to be kept in mind when considering how to deploy a social business solution in any organization is to understand where the users will perceive value. Different groups of users will perceive value in different areas, of course. People responsible for receiving inquiries (telephone, email, visitors, etc) need to quickly access the details of the best person to answer the inquiry. Production staff need access to process, procedure and problem-solving forums, etc.
The key therefore is in making the system give users something they didn’t already have. At Seric Systems we have tackled this by providing a forum area where business problems of any type can be shared and colleagues encouraged to provide proposed solutions. This is akin to the water cooler discussion or chance encounter in the corridor you might have where you uncover some vital bit of information, but as I’ve said – no one knows what everyone knows. Sharing of information and working together is one of the easiest ways of increasing productivity and satisfaction at work.
All this collaboration by keyboard and mouse should not come at the expense of real face-to-face or vocal interaction. We are social animals and without some “organic” contact we will not get the best outcomes. That’s why I would encourage anyone considering a social business solution to make it truly social by making use of that video camera and microphone virtually every computer has these days.
There are many opportunities for you to put a video chat together instead of instant messaging. Even if you are separated by thousands of miles a voice and video addition to that we conference brings it alive and returns the web meeting to a social experience.
The technology hurdles around much of the video/voice/telephony issues of the past are gone. No longer are there vendor-specific tie-ins where one messaging system will only work with one phone system, or where specialist video conferencing gear is needed to host a quick video conference with the office at the other side of the country. You have all of the power you need already on your computer – why not use it?