All over the world, people are using social to share knowledge at unprecedented rates. Social business is transforming the way Companies connect with each other, current and prospective clients, partners, suppliers and employees.
Using a composite client example, this video demonstrates how the many different facets of a social business, from collaborative and analytics technologies to security solutions and governance guidelines, are helping our clients to empower, understand and trust people.
A Social Business
- In a Microsoft survey, 51% of respondents said they would like to be more involved in their companies’ decisions to add tools and technologies. Employees want to feel that they have a voice, that their work is recognized and that they can contribute to the company’s success. Social Business can drive higher employee engagement by flattening hierarchies, dissolving organizational silos, giving people a platform for providing value to the company and driving change, offering a forum for recognition, and delivering greater organizational awareness and alignment.
- Social Business empowers teams to be more productive by providing better access to the people and information needed to get projects done. People can collaborate effectively across departments, locations and time zones. Cross-functional teams can self-organize to solve specific problems, and potential contributors can jump in to help. In addition, project knowledge and content remains on the network for future benefit. In a Microsoft survey, nearly half the respondents reported that their productivity increased as a result of social tools, and 42 percent said social tools have led to more collaboration in their workplaces.
- Harnessing the wisdom of the collective organization has never been more important. Social Business helps resolve some of the challenges of working in silos, such as duplication of work and limited access to experts, by allowing employees to “work out loud” on an open, connected platform. By connecting employees, existing systems and business applications, companies can make the most of their people and technical investments. In a Microsoft research, 29% of employees reported using social to find an expert or information within their company, while 33% use social tools to promote work-related initiatives.
- Social Business tools give teams a competitive edge by connecting them with the information and people they need to engage new customers and win new business. Enterprises can turn customers into loyal advocates by using social tools to reach and inform customers, employees and partners — and hone their marketing strategies. In the Microsoft survey, 48% of respondents use social tools today to collaborate and communicate with customers or clients, while 32% are using social tools to communicate with vendors.
- It’s one thing to give employees the green light to use enterprise social tools to connect with one another, but if companies want to drive real business value, they need a focused strategy. The are five keys to success for getting started with an Social Business program. Some basic planning can open the door to all the benefits above.
- Before they can change their culture, businesses need to have a firm grip on where they are starting. Most leaders say they want a more open, collaborative culture, but companies often have organizational structures and policies in place to prevent it. Before jumping into social, leaders need to define what they hope to achieve with it, set realistic timelines and identify pain points that could slow adoption and engagement. Enterprise social is a journey, not a campaign. Starting small with specific projects among specific groups lets people build on successes and learn along the way. Things may not be perfect. It’s best for leaders to adopt the motto of aim, fire, adjust — and view failures as learning opportunities to refine efforts.
- Leadership buy-in is critical to weaving social into the fabric of a company. Strong and public leaders in an organization need to set an example by submitting ideas, asking for feedback and experimenting on the social network. Upper management is responsible for driving strategic initiatives, and if employees see executives chiming in on the network, it helps validate the tool and drive engagement. Involving leaders from the outset builds credibility and sends a clear signal to other managers to follow their example. This behavior ripples out to the edges of the organization. IT leaders should also be involved in making decisions about enterprise social because they can deploy social tools throughout the organization and ensure that the necessary privacy, security and identity requirements are in place.
- Once business leaders have a sense of what’s possible with enterprise social, they can map out how their vision translates to tangible business results. Small projects and specific teams most easily demonstrate benefits. Projects must align with strategic value, so that leaders can evaluate the benefits and differences of using this type of tool. Businesses can use the anecdotal successes of pilot projects to educate other teams about the benefits of using social. The business benefits at the beginning of this slide show provide a guide for mapping out value: employee engagement, team collaboration, a connected organization and business agility. A good place to start a pilot is on teams where enterprise social can drive immediate value.
- To ensure the long-term benefits of an enterprise social endeavor, businesses need to establish metrics for success. Adoption and engagement are the two most common ways to measure the value of a social network, but as the network evolves, more value and new use cases will emerge. Measuring value in enterprise social is different from traditional “industrial age” standards. Analytics can and should play a significant role in assessing engagement and adoption, but other simple practices also can help monitor success. For example, anecdotal success stories can be shared as they happen. Tagging identifies instances of value inside the social network (tags such as #SocialWin are a good starting point). This is especially important given that a lot of success stories will come as a surprise and may inspire other employees to become involved in the network. While creating metrics for success from the get-go is important, unexpected social wins will occur throughout the journey. One of the great things about enterprise social is that as a network matures, new use cases keep surfacing.
- There is no perfect way to bring social into an organization, but these tips should serve as a guide to overcoming many of the common hurdles. The key is to remain willing to make adjustments along the way and be open to unexpected value. Organizing a launch event allows employees to learn about and engage with the product. The event also will increase visibility of the tool and provide a chance to demonstrate best practices moving forward. And, it’s a great opportunity to showcase executive sponsorship. Once deployed internally, enterprise social tools and technologies can be extended beyond the walls of the organization to customers, partners and vendors. Social tools extend an organization’s value chain, allowing customers and others to connect with the business, just as employees benefit from internal collaboration and engagement.
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