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Posts Tagged ‘Innovation’

Understanding the Social Enterprise Technology

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.

BRMs Fuel Faster Innovation Cycles

More and more companies rely on innovation as a central factor to successful business outcomes and the only reason to invest in its future. In today’s slow growth market, tougher global competition and commoditization, pursuing innovations more often is the only way to keep customers happy and their competitors at bay. One type of innovation that has been very instrumental to many businesses is through the use of technology – let’s call it technology innovation. 

Others might think that technology innovation means always having the latest and greatest systems available in the market, or having the fastest computers and networks. This is a myopic view of technology innovation. Most large companies have now implemented a digitized platform using well-established ERP software, like SAP and Oracle. Further developments of those ERP platforms are available to those who have them as foundation systems. If those companies are in the same industry, there is a big chance that they will pursue the same business processes and best practices in order to offer similar product and services to the same group of customers. How do companies then differentiate?

The reality is that, it is no longer true that simply having the right digitized platform is a determinant of sustained success. It is how you use technology to transform your business capabilities in a fast and agile manner that gives companies competitive advantage. Success on these technology innovation initiatives relies on a person who has both technology and business knowledge to navigate and orchestrate shaping and execution of innovative technology and business ideas. Those individuals that fuel the cycle of technology innovations in the enterprise now have a name – Business Relationship Managers (BRMs). Companies’ focus on innovation has given momentum to the growing emergence of the BRM role and discipline. According to BRMI, Business Relationship Management (what BRMs do) is about “stimulating, surfacing and shaping business demand for a provider’s products and services, ensuring that the potential business value from those products and services is captured, optimized and communicated.”

Innovation Cycle

Peter Lijnse, an IT management consultant, wrote the following in his blog entitled BRM is about innovation.

 “IT Service Management people are often good at stating, ‘We need to talk to the business.’ But very few understand the business they work for.”

This is so true. One essential competency of a BRM is business IQ and that’s assuming the BRM is already a technology expert. Many BRMs tend to come from a supply organization, and therefore, they have IT background, but it is not always the case.

Innovation is relevant only when it creates value to the customer, hence the importance of customer insights as input to the innovation process. Another common misconception about innovation is that it means new things – new platform, new functionally, etc. Not all the time. Innovation can be about new business value, not necessarily new things. Hence, it is the important for BRMs to understand the business to which they provide services. BRMs are key facilitators of technology innovation and they fuel faster innovation cycles and better business outcomes.

This article was first released as part of the BRM Update- a Monthly newsletter of BRM Institute to its members. Follow @BRMInstitute on Twitter.

When Failure Is Or Not an Option

In innovation, you aim to introduce something new; make changes in anything established. You could go right or could go wrong. Of course you do all preparations necessary to go right every time, but if you don’t, you take the lessons learned and be better next time.

Romeo Siquijor is a good friend and compatriot. He now heads Information Security in CEMEX in Mexico while I found my way to Houston after several stints in different countries. We both started as young IT managers in the Philippines. Our offices were adjacent. The thing I remember most was Romeo repeatedly telling his IT Operations team that “failure is not an option” — like it was their mantra. I did not disagree with him, but it was not the same message I would tell my team.

I headed the IT Business Processes group at that time. My department’s task was to enable and support IT solutions. For us, the mandate was to find new ways to do things, to innovate, and to test new tools with potential application to our business processes. Of course, I wanted my team to succeed but on the other hand, I did not want to have the fear of failure limit their quest for new things. I believe that sometimes the cost of finding innovation is failure – finding out what does not work on your way to finding out what does.

Failure is not an optionWhile working with our commercial department, we implemented a sales automation tool using handheld devices. Unfortunately, it did not fly when we piloted the project and we failed. We did not get the buy in because the tool was not user-friendly and robust. The sales managers simply did not use it. We explored another innovation we called mobile selling. Romeo helped design a simple technical architecture to run it. At the time, in 2003, text messaging or SMS was already big in the Philippines. It was a phenomenon and the use of it quickly became part of our culture. Our goal was to incorporate the use of texting to our sales process. We developed a tool that would allow our customers to request orders using SMS and they did just that. In just a few months, 60% of our sales orders were coming from our mobile channel. We were open to exploiting the best technology at that time by applying it to our sales process but we were not sure how our customers will react. We were willing to fail and so we took a risk and gave it our best shot.

When mobile selling was already operating, it became a mission critical application. The system was hosted by the IT infrastructure that my friend Romeo manages. In that perspective, I loved it when he told folks “failure is not an option.” I did not want any service interruptions to impact my mission critical applications. Romeo values productivity, availability and reliability. He wanted no failure and no surprises. He wanted things done yesterday, done better, faster and cheaper today.

My goal is to show you two different perspectives from two different functions in IT. “Failure is not an option” is a good mindset for day-to-day IT service delivery. Although, I would argue that this does not apply to areas whose mandate is to innovate. In innovation, you aim to introduce something new; make changes in anything established. You could go right or could go wrong. Of course you do all preparations necessary to go right every time, but if you don’t, you take the lessons learned and be better next time.

Because it's #throwbackthursday, I am adding this old photo where Romeo and I were presenting in our CEMEX Office in the Philippines. We invited our families for the weekend to visit our office and tour one of our cement plant.

Because it’s #throwbackthursday, I am adding an old photo from 2004. Romeo and I were presenting to family members of all IT employees. We invited them to visit our office, see our data center and tour one of our cement plants.

Work-life Lessons 6: Paralysis of Analysis

in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

It is better to do something and learn from mistakes than live the inertia of paralysis of analysis. – Ira Fialkow

It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to do a series of extensive analyses before making a decision. You forget to directionally see the action that you want to take because you are too focused on the analysis. Others are just afraid of making mistakes and face the embarrassment that may come with it. Some simply over-analyze because they aspire things to be perfect and expect to do everything right.

Let’s start this lesson with a very simple premise— Mistakes are not only the result of simply not thinking before doing or doing things by impulse, but are also often the byproduct of serious analytic thinking about the right course of action.  Yes, logically you would reduce the likelihood of mistakes or failure if you subject your idea to a series of analyses. That is perfectly fine and most of the time—if you want to make not only the right decision but also better decisions, you have to use analytics; it is what is expected and proper in the business environment to mitigate risk. However, you have to also caution yourself from going into “paralysis of analysis.” You could end up doing nothing. We live in a fast-paced and ultra competitive world. Sometimes, when you are a step slower in making things happen, opportunity passes you by. Over-analysis is a common cause that slows people down when it comes to making things happen or taking actions. In some extreme cases, it confines them to a cycle of continuous analysis and internal debates about the assumptions used in the analysis. This results in the actual output of the analysis being the focus rather than the action to be taken certainly, doing the right amount of analysis is important, but balancing it with action guarantees results.

Enjoy the Fun of Failure

Most people have used those little self-stick notepapers more commonly known as Post-it notes. But few know that this very successful 3M product was not a planned innovation. It did not come from a group who researched, got the idea, and followed an organized process of product development. Spencer Silver from 3M was trying to develop a strong adhesive in the 3M research laboratories in the 1970s. Silver successfully developed a new adhesive but it was weaker than what 3M already had in the market. The adhesive was weak; it stuck to objects, but could easily be lifted off. From the point of view of product development given the original specifications, the exercise was a failure; but Silver did not discard it. Four years later, Arthur Fry (another 3M employee) was using paper as a bookmarker, but it kept falling out. Fry remembered Silver’s adhesive and he used it to coat the markers. With the weak adhesive, the markers stayed in place, yet lifted off without damaging the pages. Today, these sticky notes are one of the most popular office products available.

The Post-it case exemplifies a culture in 3M that encourages employees to create new products and take action without fear of failure. Spencer Silver failed to develop the product he originally intended. This failure or unexpected outcome created a better opportunity for the right kind of invention that happened years later. You want people to be willing to take action. It’s better to “do something” and learn from mistakes than live in the inertia of paralysis of analysis. “Doing something” means start making something happen. “Just Do It”, as the famous Nike brand tagline advocates. Failure doesn’t always lead to success, like in the case of the invention of Post-it — but you can’t succeed if you are not willing to fail.

Increasing Innovation Speed

Speed is an attribute that companies need in today’s competitive business environment. A company’s ability to innovate is a direct driver of its capability to increase revenue and economic value. Leaders can increase innovation speed by changing the culture associated with making mistakes. Companies have to create an organizational culture whereby mistakes are seen as an inevitable part of innovation and learning. Increasing innovation speed means faster product development — to be in the marketplace first with the goods and services customers want as well as to constantly innovate with new services and features that give the customers what they desire. Another kind of speed is the speed of processing everything through the organization. This means having end-to-end processes superior than those of competitors that translate to excellent customer services. Google exemplifies this today by allowing employees to spend up to 20% of their work time in personal projects related to the company’s business. Several of Google’s successful services were created by employees in their personal project work time—Gmail and Adsense for example. If you are going to innovate, you have to be willing to listen, make mistakes, and try new things. Innovation speed is the kind of speed that can only be achieved by making things happen with a bias to action, not by being afraid of failure.

Work-life Lesson 6 Takeaways:

  • Mistakes are not only the result of simply not thinking before doing, but are also often the byproduct of serious analytic thinking about the right course of action.
  • Failure doesn’t always lead to success, such as the invention of Post-it — but you can’t succeed if you are not willing to fail.
  • Companies have to create an organizational culture where making mistakes is seen as an inevitable part of innovation and learning.
  • Innovation speed is the kind of speed which can only be achieved by making things happen with a bias to action, not by being afraid of failure.

Link to Previous Lesson:  Understand the Skills and Abilities that Differentiate You From everyone Else. Whenever You Have an Opportunity, Use Them.

Photo by Maple

 

 

 

Work-life Lesson 4: Learn how to give first-rate presentations so that the message you’re trying to deliver is the same one the audience receives

By: Glenn Remoreras, in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

No matter how insightful, or powerful, innovative or fantastic your solution or idea is, if  your target audience doesn’t “get it”, then none of it matters. 

Is there a secret formula for success in business – and in your career?  Probably not. But I believe it makes sense to learn from the people I respect and who have been successful themselves. 

Case in point: Ira Fialkow was the Executive Vice President for Shared Services at CEMEX, until recently. His career spans 25 years and he is a highly respected leader in his field. This series marks the culmination of 25 business lessons documented and developed by Ira over the past 25 years of his career. Ira used to distribute these lessons to the team every year. In this series, I will endeavor to share the 25 business lessons that I’ve learned from Ira and our shared services team. 

This is part four of the series: 25 Lessons for Work (and Life!) – 3-Minute Coaching Sessions 

Nowadays, having good presentation skills seem to be a no-brainer.  In fact, there is plenty of information out there about how to give good presentations – for example, how to be a good speaker, which gestures to use, correct posture, how to capture your audience’s attention, etc.  However, I think it is just as important that the message of each presentation is delivered concisely and effectively.

First of all, if your audience doesn’t get your message, then you didn’t deliver it.  This is part of accountability – a common theme in all these 25 work-life lessons. The audience must be considered first.  It is your responsibility to ensure that the message your audience receives is exactly the same as what you intended to deliver. Secondly, if you are not able to deliver your idea or solution, then there is no innovation – the second repeating theme on these work-life lessons. No matter how insightful, or powerful, innovative or fantastic your solution or idea is, if  your target audience doesn’t “get it”, then none of it matters.

Make sure your message is the one they receive

Before you even create your presentation start with the end in mind by asking yourself: With what message do I want the audience to leave?  Business leaders that develop exceptional presentation skills do it by analyzing both their audience and their purpose for presenting. This message needs to be the exact message the audience receives.  To do this, you will need to consider  how your audience best processes information. For instance, will a story that relates to the solution you are offering going to engage your audience, or will it make them impatient?

In discussing this with Ira, he mentioned that whenever it came to issues related to change management, he would always try to engage the audience with a story that they can relate to. The story should be relevant to the current situation and help explain the “Why behind the what?” For people to engage in change, they first need to understand the need for the change. Without that understanding, there will be no desire to hear the message.

In giving a presentation to executives, usually they know the “why” and are primarily interested in the “what”, “who” “how much” and “by when”. However brief the presentation is, that too  needs to have a good story flow, but delivered in a much more summarized manner.

The success of your presentation is best measured by how well the audience understands or appreciates the subject matter after you finish speaking. Naturally, presentations will be very different depending on the target audience and the message being delivered. Your presentation should have a logical sequence and the message should tell a story that can be readily retold by the audience.  

Be brief. Be bright. Be gone.

A 2009 report on American consumers, published by the Global Information Industry Center of  the University of California – San Diego, stated that the average American receives about 33.80GB or more than 100,000 words of information per day. (Bohn & Short, 2009)  That’s a lot of information to process! If you want your message to be heard and understood, keep it short and relevant. Studies show that the average adult’s “undivided attention span” is roughly 30 seconds. So even if you have the most interesting topic or are the most exceptional presenter, you still can’t keep the audience’s undivided attention for so long. That’s why our advice in this lesson is, “be brief be bright, be gone.” The story or message needs to be brief and focused — compelling and worth retelling for it to stick. Everybody is busy and you have to be able to cut through the clutter.  You need to be able to present your idea concisely. We call it the “elevator speech” – a 30-second presentation you would give to your audience (such as your CEO) if you found yourself alone in an elevator with them (and you have their undivided attention).

Secondly, your message needs to be memorable. This is what “be bright” means. Your presentation needs to be impressive enough to cut through all of the other information that your audience receives. And finally, after you have delivered your message concisely and memorably, finish your presentation, and “be gone”. There’s nothing worse than having a drawn out presentation. For this, you need to assess your audience and determine if the message has been received or if more information is required. Remember that the closing part of the presentation is what the audience will remember the most. Repeat your purpose statement. By doing so, you deliver your key messages one final time.

Work-life Lesson 4 Takeaways: 

  • Know your audience. Each presentation must be tailor-made for the audience.
  • No matter how insightful, or powerful, innovative or fantastic your solution or idea is, if  your target audience doesn’t “get it”, then none of it matters.
  • Make sure that your message is the one they receive.  Your message should tell a story and it should be one worth retelling.
  • “Be brief, be bright, be gone”. It is important that you deliver your message concisely and memorably.

Link to Previous Lesson: Set your performance standards high and never give in to “good enough”. Be your own toughest critic.


About the collaborators:

Ira Fialkow is the SVP of Member Services at Peeriosity. Peeriosity is a confidential network of leading companies from across the world committed to collaborating openly with each other in a completely secure environment with interactions free of consultants and vendors. Prior to Peeriosity, Ira was EVP of Shared Services at CEMEX and Rinker Group (acquired by CEMEX is 2007) from 1990 through joining Peeriosity in October 2010. Rinker Group was the initial recipient of the Best Mature Shared Services Award in 2003. Ira lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has been the champion of his fantasy football league in three of the past five years.

Glenn Remoreras is an IT Manager at CEMEX. He brings over 12 years of experience as an IT director, business processes manager, project leader, and consultant. He has focused on enabling business solutions through the use of IT capabilities. Glenn has been involved with various international post merger integration projects.

Ivy Remoreras is a marketing professional with eight years of extensive experience, particularly in product management, communications and promotions as a manager, university instructor and consultant. She believes in constant learning and has a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA). Having resided in Europe, Asia and North America, she speaks four languages.

Photos courtesy of Jscreationzs and Pixomar.

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

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

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.

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