In my role as a Social Collaboration Architect, I see a lot of opinions about what it will take for social collaboration applications to take off within the enterprise. Analysts and sales people alike are constantly speculating on the business value — via increased revenue or decreased cost — that social applications will uncover and make adoption a simple sell. The expectation is that a more connected and conversational employee base will become more productive. It’s a start, but not the end of the value proposition.
Becoming more connected and conversational is only as good as the richness of the interaction. Are you solving a business need? Making a process more efficient? Adding value to a transaction? At the heart of these questions is how you factor your social collaboration solution into your business processes.
In the past, companies used business process re-engineering to cut out waste and make operations leaner. Today, companies again need to revisit process re-engineering, but this time to integrate social activities into their day-to-day tasks and workflows — find a process pain point and fix it. Social provides plenty of opportunities to address business pain, such as: reduction in email overload, improved location of experts, enhanced sharing of knowledge, and increased flow of feedback. Users will naturally adopt replacement technologies that address a painful, inefficient, or unproductive process.
So how would I recommend approaching your social implementation?
- Observe how your colleagues work
- Collect colleagues’ opinions of problem areas
- Map how social collaboration can address the identified pain points
- Recruit early adopters to try the revised process and new social tool set
- Turn these early adopters into your new process champions
- Iterate as needed to get the implementation and process right
You want quick wins to build momentum, so refrain from over-engineering your new process with extra social features that don’t directly address the pain. Once you have momentum you can experiment with added features, but be prepared to remove any features that are not adding value.
Next week, I plan to discuss the continuing evolution of business process with the Internet of Everything (IoE). Spoiler alert! I believe social collaboration will continue to have a role.
Updated on April 12: I just posted my follow-on blog that I mention above. I invite you to read it now.