I think collaboration and transparency are the two most tossed about words in business today. The latter strikes fear at every level. In the beginning of 2013, I said that I thought this would be the year for collaboration. Having made that statement I want to look at how we’ve done so far. You might be wondering why I added transparency to the check in. After all, collaboration is different from transparency isn’t it?
So I did a search on how we are doing with collaboration for 2013 and the results were lack-luster. One article dubbed, Too much collaboration is hurting worker productivity” (http://qz.com/98295/too-much-collaboration-is-hurting-worker-productivity/), basically said that collaboration was sacrificing the solitary worker’s productivity. Sadly, the search mainly addressed the opportunity of collaboration or, the difficulty of it, and so on.
My theory is that collaboration seems like something we just ought to be able to do given the right technology—akin to once we get the tools we’ll just do it. Pardon my laughter but like all things in the digital /social realm—its only 15% technology everything else is about people.
Business has taught and rewarded competition. You may be scoffing but every sales person will tell you its, “what have you done for me lately.” Single-mindedness of focus is knitted into the fabric of the employee from the most minor of roles to the most important. The very nature of roles and responsibilities delineate and separate us. At the end of the year your payout is my payless. Get the picture?
I bring up transparency because it is critical to the success of collaboration. Think collaboration happens because you enable us to—no way. You can even bring it into my goals and how I am paid and I will tell you it won’t happen. You see—we as humans are creatures of habit. What is habit? It is what we have learned. We learned it because it works. It’s a habit because we have settle into the folds of its comfort.
Transparency says tear it all off and bear it all. No hidden agendas. No sandbagging. I have gone into many a company that says we are a decision by consensus culture. Do you think they will have an advantage in collaboration? It will be hardest for the consensus company because they have been taught to subjugate themselves to the mass –to no take a visible stand. In a way consensus is another word for a company that has asked their people to have no accountability. Transparency says I am totally accountable and here I bear all to you and together we will do better than I would alone.
Collaboration needs to be relearned. Let the learning begin. It’s not too late—its only August.
Social Media sites are sprouting up everywhere. I am being contacted to review business applications daily on sites hoping to become the next Yelp for business. Why not—its big business right now.
ESN (business-side social networks) are gaining ground and finding their way into all levels of business. These networks bring the hope of financial gains with engagement and greater collaboration. But an ESN alone will not do it. Unlike any other software application Social applications in a business setting depend on the right employees engaging and using them effectively.
The medium of Social Media will begin to slump in usage as it hits the inevitable saturation point among users. Users will find the benefits of visibility may be outweighed by the threats of identity breech. No doubt Social Mediums will find their place in marketing.
One value that has come from Social exchanges is that we are more aware of the realty of any brand’s promise. We all recognize the occasional naysayer always complaining. Social sites have trained us to identify and filter out town criers and cheerleaders. We look for subtle reoccurring issues. These reoccurring trickles form your brand. There is the occasional kamikaze move companies inflict upon themselves--Jeep’s refusal to recall their fiery gas tanks comes to mind. For most companies it’s the need to be aware of reoccurring derailments of promises made but not kept, or poor quality of products, and slips in service that are the killers of brand.
Along come Social Listening applications such as: Radian6, UberVu, Sysomos, Synthesio, and Visible Technologies to name a few. These applications promise to deliver value to your organization. However, they do not deliver value by themselves. There has to be--right engagement and follow-up.
Listening is only half the picture. The other half is what you are going to do with the information you hear. Today most companies have placed Social application ownership with marketing. However, it is rarely ever marketing that benefits from this information. Marketing rarely has the cross-organizational empowerment to ensure that real benefit, real value, and real change happens. Companies need to begin with making a commitment to the Social that embraces the entire organization.
The key is to decipher the message and route it to who can make use of it and is empowered to make changes to rectify it or at least escalate it. One social post can carry nuggets of valuable feed back to Customer Support, Product Development, and Fulfillment. Each department can gain applicable insight into opportunities to deliver greater value.
The key is getting the truth of the message to the employees that can make change happen quickly and effectively. The key is real-time engagement that says we hear you and we value what you are telling us so much that we are making this change because of it. The value is in the customer who is retained and won over. The value is in the customer who freely shares accolades of a company stepping up that wins more buyers. The win is in the customer--now an advocate recruited to weigh in on road mapping product enhancements that earmarks the next innovation for your industry. It’s about the customer that always chooses your company because he values the relationship you’ve built and the quality he relies on.
The value is in how the company iterates based on that feedback and improves. The value is in the company that has vision because of learning and now senses the market and fills the need well before others can. The value is in what happens after listening.
Social Enterprise is the push for 2012. But if your company is only doing a technology push be aware an implementation is much more than hitting the switch on Social. Social Enterprise is a collaboration play and the technology that enables it accounts for only about 15% of the needed effort. However, if Social is not done properly it can become 100% problem. A Social Enterprise is a sense and respond organization that is able to engage and respond to social data in ways that optimize your brand. Social puts the customer first.
Social messaging is immediate and as such the most impactful response is time sensative, targeted, and specific. In order to sense and respond in ways that are socially impactful to your brand a company must be able to determine who needs to respond and how to respond. Most companies believe the who" that I am referring to is the Social Community manager. In actuality it is rarely valuable for the community manager to respond. Proper delegation planning is key to success.
If you are going to go into Social determine why and how you plan to use it. Ensure that you have a collaborative workflow and matching service level criteria to support your goal. Gone are the days that a single department owns a product or a customer. Empower all potential responders to understand the social impact, determine your company's best position and utilize the data in ways that make sense across the organization.
A single customer review can and often includes information that is product satisfaction related and should go to product development, as well as, technical support. In addition, that same review may include fulfillment of service data that may need to be reviewed across multiple areas of the organization, as well as with partners who may be involved with fulfillment or retail point of purchase. In some cases that customer may also be an employee and the information may need to be shared or cleared with Human Resources and Public Relations.
Be thoughtful and plan collaboratively across your organization. If collaboration is not the norm for your company then support change efforts with communication, training (gamification), and rewards. Just turning on an social application without these factors limits the potential ROI of Social Enterprise. Clearly plan, design, seed, measure, and maintain. Make sure your ROI ties to your goals and that you are actually succeeding at what you want to accomplish.
Remember, what differentiates social from other innovations is that it has a life of its own. Investing in Social is a commitment to continual and ongoing care and feeding. Prepare to work within that Social stream and integrate the stream into the fiber of your organization. Taking these foundational steps insure your organization is poised for success.
Many companies have jumped on board social media as a part of their marketing strategy but internal business implementations have been slow to follow. The decision to launch a social networking and collaboration site in-house seems to hit two major obstacles. The first is universal to all internal applications as they are not as strongly market driven they are more thoroughly scrutinized for investment justification. The second is that many users now familiar with popular social media applications, like FaceBook, label them entertainment applications. The second hurdle impacts not only companies looking to launch internal social media applications but managers accepting and encouraging their resources to jump on board. Viral, bottom up acceptance usually works wonders with the second hurdle but what about the first?
Generally speaking ROI for Internal Social Networking & Collaboration falls in these categories:
Begin by identifying important ROI metrics for your company. Then select key departments or users that will provide breathe and depth to your launch. These are groups who have great visibility (if they get on board key people will notice) and a high socialization factor (if they can do it so can we). Make sure that you are clear on why you have selected each group. Ensure that you have each groups buy-in and support. Identify key metrics to monitor all groups collectively and some groups specifically. These groups must be trained, nurtured, supported, followed, documented, and socialized. Internal advocates can help train groups so that training cost are minimized. These advocates will prove helpful in viral spread as well as product direction.
Beyond providing ROI these groups will highlight bottlenecks, improve management, and bring a new level of solidarity to any company. Given the right implementation, social media and collaboration will become as indispensible as email.
Check back next week as we move to designing your internal / external social networking universe.
Noreen Poli is product manager and consultant at Ready, Set, Go Social! Her projects range from award winning methodologies to end-to-end mobile gamified applications. Her background in product management is enhanced by experience in user research, analytics, human behavior, and social giving her a unique skill-set custom made for this era of realtime analytics and personalized products.