Social collaboration is becoming increasingly important within companies. According to a research study by Salesforce, 86 percent of executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication as a major reason for workplace failures. And McKinsey Global Institute says that failing to implement social technology makes high-skill workers and management 20 to 25 percent less productive.
According to Forbes, firms using social collaboration software see productivity enhancements at an average of 12.5 percent. The 2013 Aberdeen Next-Generation Communications study found that companies identified business collaboration as one of their top business goals. Another follow-up study on the enterprise social collaboration practices of organizations revealed that the year-over-year impact of enterprise social collaboration on business performance is huge.
Year-over-Year Performance Change Due to Collaboration
Source: Aberdeen Group
Over the past few years, social technology has evolved from a simple media technology platform to an important business tool with wide-ranging capabilities. Social collaboration platforms are being used in companies to “crowdsource” product ideas and are a tool for managing procurement and logistics, allowing instant communication between different parties on supply chains. Companies are finding that social technology can be used to extend the capabilities of high-skilled workers by streamlining communication and collaboration, and to promote knowledge sharing by lowering barriers between functional silos.
The Global CEO Study by IBM found that most CEOs are beginning to understanding that they are part of a connected, networked market, and are prioritizing collaboration over independence. Approximately 53 percent of CEOs are partnering with other organizations to innovate, with this figure moving up to 60 percent for firms in the government, education, and healthcare industries.
Challenges with Social Collaboration
A study conducted by Gartner states that 80 percent of attempts to gain benefits from social collaboration tools will not be seen until 2015. Gartner attributes this to inadequate leadership and an over-emphasis on technology, and states that leaders of social business initiatives should focus less on which technology to implement, but instead focus on identifying social initiatives that will improve work practices for both contributors and managers. According to Gartner, by 2016, approximately 50 percent of large organizations will have an internal Facebook-like social network, and 30 percent will consider them to be as essential as email and telephone are currently.
Deploying Enterprise Social Collaboration
After determining business needs and selecting an attractive, easy-to-use solution, the first step is to prepare content. The social community being created should be pre-populated with some starter information and content to give workers something to immediately interact with when they first engage with the tool.
Prior to rolling out to the whole organization, a soft launch should be planned with a small group of supporters. This has the dual effect of generating content and obtaining instant feedback. The launch of social collaboration networks should be treated like a new product launch, with marketing communication through internal communication channels such as newsletters, emails, etc. After an organization-wide rollout, engagement should be monitored closely for the first few weeks post-launch, and regularly afterwards.
There are several steps to successfully drive adoption of social collaboration platforms. First, it is necessary to make it the primary vehicle for communication within the organization. This means that executives must also use the social technologies themselves as their main communication tool. Second, social collaboration should be embedded in the corporate culture. Breaking down strict hierarchies and chains of command for information flow will help to promote a culture of knowledge sharing.
Finally, communicating relevance is important so that participants are aware that the information is important to them and will help them be more productive and successful.
Social Collaboration Case Study
A telecommunications company held a day where their staff of nearly 3,000 was told to work from home for the day using social collaboration tools to work remotely. In preparation for the day, the company upgraded its virtual private network and network infrastructure, which saw a 155 percent increase in users on the day and a 110 percent increase in VPN data sent across the network.
“Businesses need to realize that social initiatives are different from previous technology deployments. Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, followed a ‘push’ paradigm. Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a ‘pull’ approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can’t be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in.” ~Carol Rozwell, Vice-President at Gartner