Social - 1Imagine that all the knowledge held by your global organization was easily accessible and actionable by employees — anywhere, on any device, and at any time.

  • How much faster could you drive the outcomes that you and your customers expect?
  • How much more effectively could your employees perform their jobs?
  • How much could you reduce costs with a comprehensive strategy that includes internal and external communities?
  • How much could you increase customer wallet share and market penetration?

If these sound like areas you’d like to improve, consider these seven elements as you develop and deploy an enterprise social collaboration.

Employ a passionate, dedicated community manager. Managing a community isn’t a part-time, add-on responsibility. Community managers are more than policy enforcers looking for bad language or undesirable behaviors. Effective community managers lead, moderate, teach, support, write, advocate, design, and much more.  Considering the many hats that they must wear, select someone with the experience, energy, and credibility to wear them! 

Ideally community managers understand the daily lives of your users. Successfully listening to the users will allow the community members to use the community as they feel comfortable and drive the use cases (i.e. sales enablement, expertise location, or corporate communication distribution) that will be most successful.

Understand your company culture and adapt to it. You can create all the social collaboration opportunities you want, but they won’t provide value if no one adopts them. When identifying how you will drive employee adoption, consider your organization’s current culture. The standard top-down vs. bottom-up adoption debate may be over-simplified. In a global organization, certain regions may be apprehensive or downright opposed toward this type of open communication. Work with regional leaders to address concerns and provide solutions for their particular segments. Consider your human resources policies and onboarding procedures. Find ways to integrate social collaboration into the everyday culture.

Use gamification to encourage desired behaviors. Positive, fun, and healthy competition can bring the out the best from your users.  Gamification features such as experience points or badges can help increase desired employee behaviors. Whether it’s policy-aligned like a Code of Business Conduct badge or activity-oriented like a Blogger badge, encourage users to earn as much as possible (and get the most from the platform). Badges can also help with reporting and analytics.

Empower employees with information wherever they are. You want to make sure employees have access to the right information at the right moment. Align your social-collaboration and mobile strategies to enable fast solutions for employees and customers.

Imagine a customer walks in to a retail store with a question that the associate is not prepared to answer. Now imagine that the associate quickly locates the answer via an app on a mobile device. Because the community ranked the response highly, and you have deployed reputation management features, the associate is confident in the information. This is an example of true collaboration that creates quick and effective access to organizational knowledge.

Create a central hub and escalate conversations when needed. Believe it or not, in some cases, the true value of a social collaboration platform is in what it doesn’t do. Mainly, it shouldn’t get in the way. You have best-in-class applications to serve specific purposes, such as conferencing, instant messaging and presence, unified communications, document repositories. Let those applications continue delivering excellence. A great social collaboration platform will seamlessly integrate and complement the your current tools in ways you never imagined.

Imagine that a customer uses a search engine to research a problem she is experiencing with one of your products.  Your customer community comes up as a top result, so she begins searching the knowledge available there. The page intelligently identifies that she is not finding the answer and presents her with a way to escalate to a real-time chat or instant messaging. Through the discussion with the customer, the representative can offer other means of real-time support such as desktop sharing or phone chat. The possibilities are limitless when you plan and integrate effectively.

Prove business value. You need to look beyond page views to demonstrate the business of your social collaboration efforts. Page views don’t tell you what a user does, for what purpose, and to what effect.  It’s important to consider actual engagement — the actions people take are a better measure of success. Consider using badge reporting to evaluate HR policy compliance. Look at content creation and comments to evaluate engagement. Identify whether the community has resulted in reduced support costs through increasing self-service support.

In some cases, it’s challenging to find quantitative results using qualitative data. Using reports, you can start to quantify things like process steps (time), meetings, or deal close rates (money). There are many ways to use analytics to prove value and return on investment.

Get Help from Cisco Advanced Services 

Cisco offers a complete services portfolio to help you plan, build, and manage your social collaboration platform. Services include strategy and analysis; assessment; design; deployment; optimization; and solution support. Please take a moment to review some of the materials on the services site, provide any comments you have below, and reach out to me with any questions you may have.


Jeff Price

Product Manager