simple processes

Simplify. But Never Oversimplify.

Tag Archives: Collaboration

Understanding the Social Enterprise Technology

0

I am presenting a webinar on BRM and Social Media on June 20, Friday at 11am EDT. To get a chance to discuss this topic with me and learn more, register here.

I am an avid user of social media sites that exist out there, I blog, tweet, and I use Facebook. These social applications have been really useful to me personally. Facebook, for instance, is my way to connect with my family who live in the Philippines. Every time I post a picture of my kids on Facebook, I always have my family in the Philippines in mind. This is how I can share moments of my kids’ life with them. Through Facebook, I also keep track of my nephew and nieces. Early on, I realized the value of social networking to my personal life so I started thinking how such platforms extend to the enterprise. Even before the existence of full-strength Enterprise Network Tools available today, I wondered how such collaborative practices extend beyond personal use and find their way to become an integrated set of functional offerings that delivers business value.

Think about an “enterprise Facebook”. What’s the equivalent of posting a status or photo? If I post about a project I am working on, blog about a business problem I am trying to resolve, or share a screen of a user interface mobile application I designed – what will it take for my peers in the office to be able to access, read and see them? To usher in adoption of the tools seamlessly is a challenge for those who have blazed the trail. If you can’t convince employees that using it will make their job easier or if you can’t convince business leaders that using it will create business value, it is tough to succeed.

According to Forrester Research, organizations will increase their spending on enterprise social collaboration software at a compound annual growth rate of 61% through 2016. With the social software market now looking to be a hefty $6.4 billion part of the industry, every big player from IBM, to Oracle, to SAP are busy developing their offer. If you look at this amount of investment and demand, obviously the companies are seeing competitive advantage and value of social tools in their organization now and in the future.

The Benefits of Social Enterprise Technology

There are essentially three categories of benefits that can be derived from using social enterprise technology. So, broadly, we see that in order for social enterprise technology to create business value, it should not only provide strong content-centric features but also must extend social capabilities in execution of business processes and facilitating innovation through collaboration in the company.

Benefits of Social Enterprise Technology

Benefits of Social Enterprise Technology

Companies who have embarked in the early adoption of social tools in the enterprise have done so to capture one or more of these business benefits. CEMEX, a multi-billion building materials company, initially began in 2009 to develop an internal social network which called Shift. Shift was designed to innovate and help make the company more efficient and agile by empowering employees to implement the new best practices they learn by collaborating globally in their business units. By building a collaboration platform accessible to employees throughout the company and around the world, CEMEX is empowering employees in new and important ways that go beyond traditional titles and roles. From the SAPPHIRENOW event in Orlando this June, I learned about how Kaeser Kompressoren uses SAP’s social enterprise application SAP Jam to streamline their sales and customer service processes and build a bridge from the first client contact through to the offer improving information and communications quality. They are leveraging integration between SAP Jam with seamless integration with SAP CRM module to join social capabilities and traditional work stream.

Implementing a social tool for collaboration is just the first step. To get employees to use it collectively enough to change the way they collaborate is the much bigger challenge. Adoption of social tools in the workplace setting requires more than compliance and a management mandate. It is about culture transformation from within and for all employees, from top to bottom. I think the part of enabling the Social Enterprise application is the easy part of the process, the challenge is adoption. Benefits are realized when:

  1. You successfully change the culture, the way employees in a company collaborate, and you break geographical and political barriers.
  2. You optimize your enterprise work stream by having business processes accessible and executable through social interactions happening in the collaboration space.
  3. You bring innovation by empowering employees to organize around ideas that develop organically during social interaction.

Improving collaboration – an effective Social Media integration point for businesses

0

According to Forrester research, organizations will increase their spending on enterprise social collaboration software at a compound annual growth rate of 61% through 2016. Forrester estimates enterprise social software will become a $6.4 billion market in 2016. This is based on their assumption that a new generation of social enterprise apps is, and will be, delivering on business needs. If this is the trend today and more so in the near future, how do you the plan to integrate social media to your work streams?

There are many integration points and it all depends on the needs of the business. Those needs can be classified into two types: (1) mass engagements: involvement of wider audience with open-ended boundaries; and (2) internal and external collaboration: engagement of specific audience, with defined boundaries.

In this article, we will focus on improving collaboration as integration points.

Collaboration through social tools usually entails the implementation of a collaborative decision management solution that encourages change in the way businesses collaborate to facilitate innovations. Saying that, two critical factors emerge:

(1) change in culture, ie, the way employees in a company collaborate, and

(2) the need to select and adopt an effective, collaborative-type tool

Companies that use collaboration as an integration point to adopting social tools face the following challenges:

(a) How do we get beyond e-mail, traditional meetings, conference calling, etc, to these new social platforms that include an industrial-strength social network?

(b) How do we change the way we work?

(c) How do we integrate social tools in our enterprise work stream?

(d) How do we become more innovative as a company because of it?

The answer is not Facebook nor Twitter – not for this type of business need. There are, however, applications for these purposes available in the market. They are referred to as collaborative decision management applications that provide functionalities like wikis, blogs, project management, community building, idea creation, etc.

Implementing a social tool for collaboration is just the first step, or I should say, the easy step. To get employees to use it collectively enough to change the way they collaborate is the much bigger challenge. Adoption of social tools in the workplace setting requires more than compliance and a management mandate. It is about culture transformation from within and for all employees, from top to bottom.

So, what’s the point?

Today, if an employee has an idea, he or she goes to their boss to discuss it, or goes to the board to present it as a proposal, or sends an idea narrative by email. Consider the alternative of posting ideas as wikis, and letting everyone else read, comment and even change them.An effective approach is a grassroots adoption through structured learning experiences, involving adoption champions from different levels of the organization. The communication and implementation of the grassroots approach must be focused on the benefits to the users first, and promotion of the value creation for the company next.

It’s easier to convince employees to change the way they work if they understand that this will make their job easier.

SSON Social Media

Building an Excellent IT Services Culture

11

Why do your employees feel uncomfortable about being empowered? Why don’t they follow the instituted risk and change management processes? Why don’t they put customers first? The answers may lie in your control systems — and the fact that mediocrity is too easily accepted.

Whenever an IT organization excels in providing services to its customers, its customer service orientation is guaranteed to be deeply embedded into its culture.

Culture is one of the softer elements of an organization’s identity but it’s extremely important when you want your organization to improve its service delivery system.

Culture offers answers to some really difficult issues in IT services delivery, such as:

  • Why employees feel uncomfortable and somehow do not want to be empowered (Review your control systems — your controls might be too tight to encourage empowerment. You might also be surprised to find that making mistakes is severely punished.)
  • Why employees don’t follow the instituted risk and change management processes. (Check the extent to which anyone actually follows protocol.)
  • Why getting employees to put customers first is so complicated and why there are so many complaints about poor service. (Review what happens when employees fail repeatedly in tasks and have so many complaints against them—most likely nothing! Mediocrity is tolerated!)
  • Why critical IT problems are recurring. (Check approach to problem management. Most likely you are reactive in terms of issues resolution. You do not address the root causes of the problems. Do you have a culture of preparedness, contingency and proactive problem management?)
  • Why employee turnover is so high even though they are paid competitively well relative to market standards. (Check the extent of camaraderie, teamwork and cooperation. Review learning practices. Are employees mentored or coached by managers and leaders of the organizations?)

If you want to improve the IT service culture of your organization, you have to understand that it is not an overnight endeavor.

Organizations don’t create culture overnight. Culture develops. There is no instant formula for creating culture or else you will end up with an artificial one with a weak foundation. Such type of culture is not sustainable. You don’t create culture by merely creating or declaring mission statements and rules. You don’t create culture by simply implementing new applications and best practices copied from other successful IT organizations. Culture happens through consistent behavior over time embedded and encouraged by leaders.

What does an excellent IT services culture look like? Like any culture, it is a collection of service traits, and behaviors that get repeated over time and embedded in the organization’s subconsciousness. The values, behaviors or traits you need to nurture and develop in your team to improve your IT services culture are as follows:

1. Customer First – Internally and Externally. 

Fostering a “customer first” attitude means creating a work culture that values the customers. It needs to be applied internally and externally. Customer-friendly behavior should be encouraged. It is important for IT, at every level of the organization, to build a meaningful relationship with its customers. This practice will help IT to understand the requirements and needs of the business and allow them to align their services accordingly. Every interaction point — from frontline service desk personnel to managers handling customer engagements — should provide a consistent level of customer service.

This “customer first” focus must also be practiced at every unit of the group — and even between themselves. Customer service behavior should not only apply to the external customers of the organization. Each individual, department or function is interdependent. At any point in time, one could either be a supplier or a customer to the other. It is simple logic. If one part is a weak link, it will impact the service of the whole. If customer service behavior is practiced on a consistent basis, externally and internally, it becomes part of the IT group culture.

2. Collaboration and Teamwork

The best teams have a commitment to help each other. The culture of shared responsibility is all about teamwork and collaboration. Developing teamwork is about creating a group culture that values collaboration. With teamwork, no one completely owns an area of work or responsibility. It is shared by members of the team. Each member is encouraged to be involved and contribute to the attainment of the group objectives. In a group that has teamwork, members believe that working, planning and deciding is better done collaboratively.

3. Proactive Approach, Not Reactive

It is important to find or identify patterns and get to root causes of recurring issues. There has to be a strong drive to solve problems and stop recurring critical issues. In addition, teams need to prepare for critical incidents because these will happen. Problem management and disaster preparedness should be built into the IT culture. This is not an individual task. It should be managed collectively and involve all areas of IT.

4. Learning Organization 

Learning is the best way to create culture and transmit culture. IT must have a culture of continuous learning. Employees who are well trained take more ownership and have an active role in operations. Attitudes become more positive and people aim to do things better. Learning in an organization should start early. This means starting the moment you hire an employee. An on-boarding program is one of the best ways to prepare employees and cultivate the kind of traits and behaviors you expect from them. In organizations with a strong service culture, new hires — who are selected in part for their service skills — quickly find out that the organization is serious about customer service.

5. Creativity and Empowerment 

Creative people don’t accept standards as a given. They are obsessed with innovation and change. They are impatient for progress and will always look for ways and means to improve how things are done. For IT organizations to embed creativity and empowerment into their culture, IT leaders must learn to value negative results as well as positive ones. When you create something new, you don’t always succeed. The culture of encouraging creativity and empowerment will lead employees to be more collaborative, effective and innovative.

Being service oriented, or more specifically, being successful and excellent with providing services can’t be achieved swiftly. A service culture has many attributes that may be difficult to achieve. If you are trying to make your organization more customer-oriented, you need to assess what customer service traits are more prevalent and what needs more work. Creating a culture of service requires that you practice the service traits we covered earlier consistently in order to develop the attitudes and norms that will govern the behavior of all the members of the organization.

Photo courtesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.

Follow Glenn Remoreras on Twitter.

Collaborative Research: Smart Use of Peer Networks to Improve Efficiency and Spur Innovation

3

On my article about Social Shared Services, I examined the possibilities of adopting social media practices and social collaboration toolsets as part of the shared services offering and communication channel. The “social media adoption model” I referred to does not apply only to shared services organizations but also to any other services organizations looking to harness social media.

If you read my article on Social Shared Services, I cited  “external collaborative research” as one of the six components of the social shared services model. It refers to the interaction of organization’s members with peers in other companies through “social” media and collaborative channels. This interaction results in collaborative research, benchmarking, enriched studies and shared best practices. This artcle aims to give a concrete example of how organizations can participate in forums and collaborate with external parties.

Peeriosity, an Example and Success Story

There are existing platforms in the internet that allows “social” or collaborative engagement using advanced Web 2.0 toolsets. Take for example, the website Peeriosity. It is already used by many shared services organizations and companies worldwide. Peeriosity uses innovative platforms to enable collaborative communities and facilitates the sharing of experiences and best practices. This type of collaboration brings together a broad number of individuals with different areas and levels of expertise. When collaborating with peers, you want a wide selection of qualified individuals to work with. This platform allows organizations to engage peers beyond their internal ecosystem and to participate in forums, webcasts and research. Each research area includes live webcasts featuring leading experts and recognized peers on key topics. Participants can actively ask questions and share their perspectives and experiences.

The tool in Peeriosity that I best like is  iPolling. If you have an idea or a problem in your office environment, you typically look for co-workers within the company to discuss it. It is the same with iPolling except that you can confer not only with your co-workers but also your peers in other companies. With iPolling you can create your own poll in just a few minutes. Peeriosity then professional reviews it and distributes it to peers who have the most interest and experience in your specific topic. Poll results include a summary chart and the underlying detailed results. I think it’s a great way to get feedback from your peers about topics you care about and engage them in direct poll discussion and comments.

Benefits of Peer Networking and Collaboration:

Here are some benefits that I see for companies participating in cross-company and cross industry collaboration:

  1. Organizations can construct and enrich innovative ideas by leveraging the diverse and expansive expertise of the collaborative network.
  2. Attain benefits of scale through effective collaboration with peers across geographies and across industries concerning a topic of interest.
  3. Drive continuous learning in the organization by allowing its members to participate in webcasts and online forums.
  4. Maximize collaborative research efficiencies and reduce consulting costs.
  5. Drive employee engagement and performance by optimizing flow of good ideas.

Interaction with an “extended” peer network can have a profound impact on creating a learning organization that can adapt, collaborate and innovate. I view new collaborative platforms like Peeriosity and other similar services online as an extension to collaborative channels already available to you. This is the same type of engagement you would experience when attending annual industry conventons and personally meet professionals in the same industry or practice. I personally don’t believe these types of platforms are possible replacements for traditional conventions, forums and training programs but instead, it allows you to continue the same level of meaningful interaction with your peers long after the event.

I will leave you with the following questions: Is it time for your organization to adopt social networking practices and tools? How can you build a more collaborative and innovative organization? How can you promote patterns of collaborations that will allow your organization to become more efficient, innovative and engaging?

Image courtesy of www.peeriosity.com

Social Shared Services – Implementing Social Media in Shared Services Organizations

2

Traditionally, the development of a shared services group within an organization was a result of the need to achieve cost reduction through economies of scale, centralization and process standardization. Starting in the late 1980s, large, decentralized companies consolidated basic transactional processes — such as accounting, payroll, accounts payable and purchasing — and charged business units back at cost. As business units increasingly recognized the benefits of bringing together services in an internal service provider, the functions of shared services grew over time. Advancements in technology and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms enabled the shared services to link remote businesses and develop its end-to-end processes.

Businesses today drive even more value creation from shared services, through functions like process management, knowledge management, product and service innovation, project and portfolio management, and business performance solutions. This allows the business to focus on its core activities. Organizations that have a mature shared services group continually evaluate other services as to whether they fit a shared services model. The objective of this article is to examine the possibilities of adopting social media practices and social collaboration toolsets as part of the shared services offering and communication channel.

The exponential growth of social media has had a profound impact on the world’s businesses. Companies can no longer ignore the persistence and expansion of social media platforms. The growth of social networks and tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others, has revolutionized the way we interact with our customers, peers and providers. But the question of value is often brought to the table when looking at these same social tools from the executive level — i.e. how can social tools be leveraged in a shared services organization?

Forward-looking companies have started to embrace Web 2.0 practices and technology to encourage innovation initiatives. Can organizations like shared services take advantage of similar developments so as to enable and improve their function as an internal service provider to the business? How can shared services leverage new collaboration tools and Web 2.0?

Shared Services — Four Adoption Points

I see four areas where shared services can utilize social media: (1) Engagement, (2) Knowledge Management, (3) Support, and (4) Internal Customer Relationship. If you are already thinking of implementing Web 2.0 practices in your organizations, here are possible adoption points:

  1. Engagement — Engagement means enabling a community for your internal customers where they can freely interact with you and with each other. We are used to linear and traditional engagement with our internal customers. We communicate with them through traditional media like email, phone or personal visits. Think about the advantages of being able to talk to your internal customers in community groups where the best way to engage them is to communicate with them openly. Your role becomes that of a facilitator, leading the community engagement, which, in turn, results in value-creating collaborative outputs.
  2. Knowledge Management — As shared services, we keep track of process documentation, how-to’s and training materials. We keep these documents in certain locations for easy deployment to our internal users.  Sometimes we enable portals to publish them and they become directly accessible to internal customers. Knowledge Management, the “social” shared services approach, is ceding control of this documentation to power users and the users’ communities — much like Wikipedia allows us to change its content collectively. The role of shared services now is to ensure the quality of the updates, edit content when necessary, and provide feedback to the community.
  3. Support — This is not intended to replace existing support groups. ‘Social’ support is just opening up a collaborative support channel — the ‘community support services.’ When end-users have questions, they can post these in a community and anybody can answer. Additionally, shared services support personnel can engage these end-users directly. Expert users and even regular users who are members of the community can also assist by providing links to how-to’s and wikis already available in Knowledge Management. If the questions and the answers are worth documenting, someone will update the how-to’s and wikis so everyone can have access to the latest version.
  4. Customer Relationship — With social media, customer relationship management (CRM) becomes open and collaborative. Social CRM extends beyond traditional CRM by focusing on people and collaboration. Processes covered by traditional CRM and will not be replaced — social CRM in a way supports CRM by focusing on meaningful engagement, on content and conversations. For shared services, going social on CRM is equivalent to interacting with customers through communities, wikis and blogs; enabling customers to critique the services; encouraging customers to share ideas and creating platforms in partnership to improve value creation.

‘Social’ Shared Services Model — Six Components

‘Social’ shared services are existing shared services organizations that embrace social media practices and the Web 2.0 platform to increase the efficiency of the network’s value. An added principle of ‘social’ shared services is enabling the power of ‘participation’ and ‘people.’ The core function of shared services that go ‘social’ remains the same — to deliver transactional and other non-core services to the business units. The main differentiation is the culture and practice of open collaboration with internal and external entities using new collaborative Web 2.0 tools. ‘Social’ shared services enable the communities and facilitate conversations with business users, thereby creating new ‘interaction points.’

Six Components of the ‘Social’ Shared Services Model

Collaborative Shared Services Portfolio — New channels enabled during the implementation of the ‘social’ shared services model. In a way, these new channels facilitate new forms of service offerings —these are the shared services social CRM, business peer groups, knowledge and content management and facilitation services.

Enabling Technology — These are the Web 2.0 platform and applications available in the market that support collaboration, enterprise knowledge management and integration. Web 2.0 toolsets, including collaboration and productivity tools, use these technologies to help businesses deliver applications more flexibly and cost effectively.

Adoption Strategy — Implementing the Web 2.0 toolset is the easy part. The main challenge is the adoption process. Adopting social media in a business setting is a cultural change process. Not everyone is used to this way of working and the implied new collaboration practices. There should be a strong strategic principle that guides shared services through social media adoption and thereby ensures the chances of success. This adoption process does not have shortcuts; it can’t be forced upon employees.

Governance — Web 2.0 tools are equipped with powerful communication and dissemination technologies that may be difficult to control. To mitigate risk, the first thing that the organization should establish in this initiative is the governance strategy. Governance strives to bring order and sustainability to what would otherwise be a chaotic environment of ad hoc communication and information dissemination. This governance will include community policies, rules and regulations and community structures.

Performance — Similar to shared services’ traditional service offerings, ‘social’ services portfolios also need service level definitions. Examples include how a shared services staff member is expected to answer a support question in a community blog, the performance of shared services in community facilitation, etc. The objective is to measure the effectiveness of the new set of services. Part of the goal in performance monitoring is to draw up continuous improvement initiatives.

External Collaborative Research — Why do it alone when you can participate and collaborate with peers? Innovative platforms and collaborative communities leverage technology and facilitate sharing of experiences and best practices. This type of collaboration brings together a broad pool of individuals with different areas and levels of expertise. This is the component of the ‘social’ services model that branches out beyond the internal ecosystem of the service organization and the company. 

Conclusion

The ‘human network’ is an adaptive entity and it is constantly learning. It is happening already in consumer communities — why can’t it work internally, in service organizations? Today’s service organizations are under pressure to give business users access to information on-demand. Internal customers are more fickle and demand a different kind of response: more flexibility, greater innovation, more attention, etc.

Social media and technology are rapidly changing today’s businesses. This creates pressure on organizations and on the people in them to constantly adopt. Is it time for shared services organizations to adopt social networking practices and tools? I think you can best answer that question. Some businesses have already started looking into Web 2.0 adoptions. I think it’s just a matter of time before social media practices and the Web 2.0 toolset becomes more prevalent in organizations globally. ‘Social’ shared services will be able to support and promote a globally integrated virtual enterprise and extend the discovery and use of expertise across an entire ecosystem. Web 2.0 technology will help shared services bring together interaction among people, information and data to drive new opportunities and to foster communities.

View full PDF version published in Shared Services and Outsourcing Network >> Social Shared Services.

Follow Glenn Remoreras on Twitter.

CEMEX’s Innovation Through Collaboration

4

 

“Self-organization, the most recent technology-fueled transformation. It’s employing technology to let people interact as they wish, with few or no workflows, rules, or hierarchy, then harvesting the good results that emerges.” – Andrew McAfee

Recently CEMEX was selected to participate in the Forrester Groundswell Awards for innovation in social media among employees. Learn more about what CEMEX is doing to leverage social tools for collaboration and its enabling platform called Shift. Participate in the Forrester Groundswell discussion online where you can vote, comment and learn more about Shift. 

CEMEX has embraced this Collaborative Revolution. It shows the commitment of the company to continue innovating for its customers. It demonstrates how it values collaboration without boundaries. CEMEX has joined the Collaboration Revolution by introducing an internal collaboration platform called Shift, designed to innovate and help make the company more efficient and agile by letting employees or groups of employees with similar objectives share opinions, thoughts, information, experience, knowledge and best practices. Since its launch more than 200 communities have been created and employees are sharing best practices across all operative units. The collaboration platform is also helping CEMEX to create new value propositions in order to maintain and improve the company’s competitive edge.

There are over a billion users of social media sites on the Internet. Between Facebook and Twitter alone there are more than to 700 million unique user accounts. Companies have stepped up to leverage these new social tools to enable self organization teams in the business with the objective of encouraging more collaboration, information sharing and innovation. One of the defining principles of social media is collaboration. Groups of people and even virtual teams with members from different geographic locations and organizational levels can work together in a project. These new collaborative tools are designed to change the way we collaborate with our extended network. It is designed to provide less structure, simple mechanics, and allows users to lead the way. This approach requires employees to communicate, to share, to interact and to generate contents and value output.

Again, you can join in the ongoing Forrester Groundswell discussion online where you can read more about Shift, comment and submit your rating.

How Gerry Dasco Brought Us Together

4

Our old alma mater is the only Catholic school in the small and quiet city of Catbalogan (Philippines) of around 90,000 people. Just like me, most of my classmates hail from Catbalogan and other surrounding small towns and barrios. Most of us spent our formative years together— a year in kindergarten, six years in elementary and four years in high school. We knew that our high school graduation was sort of our break-off point. From there, each one of us headed our separate ways, chased separate dreams. I went to Manila, the nation’s capital. It was common for people like us who grew up in the province to move to the big city to study and then work. A few would return home. I attended university at De La Salle University. Some chose to stay in Catbalogan and many of them now work and serve our hometown. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished individually. We are now successful accountants, engineers, doctors, nurses, pilots, educators, judge (youngest in the country), businessmen, politicians (vice mayor of Catbalogan) and many other professionals. 

Our Ultimate Social Media Guy

It is seldom that someone brings together 30 or more friends from 20 years back to reminisce the years spent together. That was what Gerry Dasco managed to accomplish for us, his high school batch mates of ‘93 from Sacred Heart College (now called St. Mary’s College). I see updates from classmates and old friends in Facebook almost everyday.  I am often just browsing and curious about what they do now and how their families are. From time to time I look at their pictures and am amazed at how older and mature we’ve become and how fate have brought us to different journeys. On a few occasions, when I am able to, I greet classmates on their birthdays and congratulate them on their triumphs. It was always limited, sporadic chance encounters and more often without  frills, without conversations… until Gerry brought us together! 

I remember Gerry as being a shy, quiet, simple gentleman in school. He was definitely not the type to gather folks together for a party with the promise of conversations, dancing and beer. Gerry waited for his moment and he did the most amazing thing— something most of us wouldn’t dare do or couldn’t do for many years now.

He orchestrated an event conceived so creatively. How he managed it with simplicity amazes me. First, Gerry posted old scanned pictures from his high school photo album in Facebook. He then tagged everyone, wittingly and knowingly inviting us to look.

That started the flow of conversations, sharing, questions, and remembrance. He didn’t stop there; Gerry made a collage of old photos and new photos (picked from Facebook) put them side by side — kind of showing the before and after photo of each one of us. The collage brought even more friends and classmates into Gerry’s organized (virtual) high school reunion. The beauty of it was that he even got us to take it to the next level… all the way to how we would organization the hosting of the alumni homecoming event in 2017. 

It’s amazing! A lot of us thanked Gerry for what he did; he clearly gets this social media thing that many of us are still just starting to grasp. Gerry is my ultimate social media guy! He understood that the key to successful social-networking and reunion is to be deliberate. 

He understood that the simple concept of  Web 2.0 and social media revolves around the convergence and interconnectivity between links, users, and information. 

He transformed interactions between his batch mates from just sharing meaningless frivolity to being purposeful and it naturally led to real-time conversations. Gerry was focused and thought about how to capture what is important from the network, and organized our interactions accordingly.  Most of all, he created for us our own social space. 

Thanks again, Gerry!

The New York City and Facebook Analogy

9

You can never have enough of New York City! We made our trip to the Big Apple for the second time in less than a year. Last week I spent a grueling — but rewarding — five days there with my wife, Ivy, and her family. We went on several sightseeing tours, bay cruises and museum visits. The tours brought us to a number of boroughs in the city and historic places where great residents have lived (often proudly mentioned by tourist guides). Those great names have, in one way or another, contributed to the major development of the city. New York City, for many decades now, exerts a powerful influence over global commerce, finance, media, culture, art, fashion, research, education, and entertainment. 

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of

While traversing New York City, one thought kept coming back to me. I wondered how it came to be that scores of great people and so many great things came from this city. Why is there so much celebration and life in the Big Apple? 

I listened to the song Empire State of Mind — I heard it everywhere I went, fueling my thoughts even more… 

“New York! Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York!  These streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you….”  

Unknowingly, the answer to my question was waiting for me at home. I got the answer when I came across an enlightening article from the New York Times entitled “Yes, People Still Read, but Now It’s Social.”  I will quote the part of the article that struck me and provided response to the questions in my mind. 

“It’s no accident that most of the great scientific and technological innovation over the last millennium has taken place in crowded, distracting urban centers. The printed page itself encouraged those manifold connections, by allowing ideas to be stored and shared and circulated more efficiently.”  

Echoing the author’s sentiment— I think it is no accident that crowded  and buzzing metropolises (like Rome in Italy, Paris in France, Berlin in Germany, New York in the United States, Tokyo in Japan, Mexico City in Mexico and many others) were cradles of human society’s progress. Great minds from all walks of life converged in crowded cities that provided a “natural” environment for mass connections and collaborations. 

Natural Facebook – Using People as Platform

Now, I see big cities like New York, as a “natural Facebook” that seamlessly permits several magnitudes of connections and allows residents a fast-paced and persevering lifestyle. New York provides a unique environment to push innovations and inventions forward by harnessing community forces- using people as platform

In big cities like New York there are so much things going on and so much stuff to do that you can’t possibly concentrate on one thing; therefore, you work on loads of “focused items” by multitasking your way and leveraging people and connections. You build on the “popular highlights” of important things. I think that’s how New Yorkers succeed!

Photo courtesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.

Imagine How Social Media Can Transform Your Company Part II – Enterprise 2.0 Implementation Challenges

2

This is the second part of my series on how Social Media can transform your company. In Part 1, I talked about the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 to a company. I cited three key benefits: 

  • Improved Collaboration – One of the defining principles of Enterprise 2.0 is collaboration. Groups of people and even virtual teams with members from different geographic locations and organizational levels can work together.
  • Information Discoverability – One of the key advantages of Enterprise 2.0 is knowledge sharing, retention and discoverability. Imagine how much corporate knowledge and information are held by only a handful of employees in your company.
  • Enhanced Customer Experience through Social CRM Social CRM evolved from the need to create new customer relationships through the social media channel—relationship that is built on trust. This means actively participating in social media forums.

Governance Model for Risk Mitigation

To mitigate risk the first thing that companies should establish in an Enterprise 2.0 initiative is the governance strategy. Some companies, for example, encourage its employees to participate in mainstream social media. They support employees who write blogs internally and externally; however, they have to follow a set code of conduct. A common component of these policies is the “don’t tell secrets policy”. Companies want to safeguard proprietary and confidential information. Go to Social Media Governance Database if you want to see free examples of Social Media Policies from almost 100 companies. Let me share with you one of the most interesting social media policy that I have read online—the Social Media Policy of Intel. Over time, Intel created a comprehensive set of social media policies. These guidelines are now available in over 35 languages designed to help everyone use social media in a respectful and responsible way.

Cultural Change a Serious Challenge to Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

There are existing solutions in the market (such as blogs, wikis) that can be easily installed and applied to foster collaboration.  So some might think it is easy to implement Enterprise 2.0.  If that’s what you are thinking, you are wrong. I think implementing Enterprise 2.0 has little to do with technology. The most important component is adoption and cultural change. When I say culture, I refer to the way of work, values, behavior, etc. that altogether constitute the unique style of the company. There should be a strong strategic principle that guides the organization through an incremental adoption approach to ensure chances of success. It can’t be forced. There are no shortcuts.

Support from Users is Critical 

Here is a key question: how important is top management support in Enterprise 2.0 adoption? Like any other initiative, senior management support is critical. But more than that, an Enterprise 2.0 adoption needs support from all levels of the organization. Yes you need management support; however, to be really successful, companies need to focus on the benefits of the users first and then the value creation for the company next. You can’t convince an employee to change the way he works just because it will benefit the company. You have to convince employees that this will make their job easier. This approach is important. It will fuel faster adoption from the grassroots. 

Importance of Training in the Adoption Process

I would like to end this post about Enterprise 2.0 implementation with emphasis on the importance of training. Like any other project that includes implementing technology and process, training is a critical success factor.  By just having Enterprise 2.0 tools and social media policies do not necessarily mean an organization’s employees will understand them or use them in how they perform daily work. It is the training combined with a clear social media policy that will provide a structure for employees to increase their participation. With that in place, a comfort level evolves between employee participation and management’s concerns.

Image courtesy of sniki.org.

When Meetings Are Bad for the Company

16

I had a colleague in Germany who once told me, “If I didn’t have to go to a lot of these meetings, I’d enjoy my work more.” We probably had a lot of meetings – maybe too much – with them.

Internal discussion, status meetings, presentations, weekly update, checkpoints —you name it; they are all types of internal collaboration, otherwise called meetings. Internal collaboration is almost generally viewed as good for a company. Leaders regularly challenge us to collaborate, to talk to different departments, and chat with counterparts in different business units and work together in cross-unit teams. Where do we end up? Typically, swamped by information overload, spending more than 50% of our time in meetings and spending 20% preparing for it. Contrary to popular opinion, you indeed can have too much of a good thing. 

MeetingI am not saying meetings are bad.  Not at all.  It is a time-tested tool for communication and assistance for employees in aligning activities to desired goals. It is vital for projects and operations. In leading a team or department, I hold meetings periodically (and sometimes more than necessary). It is essential to functioning teams. There is simply no substitute for a good meeting. Meetings, working with teams and collaborating across organizational boundaries can create tremendous value. 

However, conventional wisdom rests on the false assumption that the more employees meet and collaborate, the better off the organization will be. The fact is, too many meetings can easily undermine productivity and performance. 

Knowing when (and when not) to meet 

There is an existing rule of thumb for this; I certainly don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Let me cite what effectivemeetings.com has to say on this subject. I got this from the article, Six Tips for more Effective Meetings. You will be surprised with tip number one: Don’t meet!.  

Avoid a meeting if the same information could be covered in a memo, e-mail or brief report. One of the keys to having more effective meetings is differentiating between the need for one-way information dissemination and two-way information sharing. To disseminate information you can use a variety of other communication media, such as sending an e-mail or posting the information on your company’s intranet. If you want to be certain you have delivered the right message, you can schedule a meeting to simply answer questions about the information you have sent. By remembering to ask yourself, “Is a meeting the best way to handle this?” you’ll cut down on wasted meeting time and restore your group’s belief that the meetings they attend are necessary. “

What’s a good meeting? 

You know when you’re attending one. There is a good reason to meet in the first place. The purpose, agenda and timeframe are clear. The participants are prepared and there is some degree of skilled facilitation. It is important to have someone who can keep participants focused on the goal in mind and can navigate issues so that the meeting can be effective. In good meetings you always leave with clear action items. 

Managers who emphasize the benefits of meeting are right. But they should temper those that do it excessively. It is a mistake to underestimate the equivalent time and cost the company spends in meetings. We should approach holding meetings as a group value-creating endeavor. Although getting together to collaborate is imperative to a working environment, the challenge is not to cultivate more and more meetings. Rather, it’s to develop the right meetings so we can achieve objectives and goals otherwise not possible when we work alone.

Photo courtesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.

%d bloggers like this: