A recent report from Aberdeen calls social media a “game changer” for the success of employees and the business as a whole—if such technology is used effectively.
Well, of course, you may be saying. Any technology used ineffectively is not going to be of value to a company. The difference with social is that when it is used ineffectively it can actively do harm—eating up productivity, opening the door for misunderstanding and even introducing security vulnerabilities.
“Contemporary social technologies exist to help organizations avoid strained communication altogether and to be more productive in the process,” according to the report, authored by Zach Lahey, research analyst, Human Capital Management. “Such resources, when implemented appropriately and supported internally, can instill an employee-driven culture that enables knowledge sharing and growth of ideas, not to mention the development of the business as a whole.”
Of course, the use of social technology in enterprise collaboration isn’t new, but through the use of products such as Yammer within SharePoint, social processes are becoming more and more tightly integrated across the business.
In its report, Aberdeen makes some recommendations for smooth enterprise social sailing:
1. Limit the number of internal collaboration platforms
When it comes to collaboration platforms, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. “In the right hands, ESC [enterprise social collaboration] tools are powerful and ensure that employees spend their time as efficiently as possible," stated the report. "But there are ways in which these same resources can be overwhelming, burdensome, and inefficient. One such way is by having too many internal collaboration platforms.”
With several places to post and update, employees can get frustrated and things can fall through the cracks. Aderdeen research has shown that companies can be effective with two or more collaboration platforms in place, but recommends that companies consider a single sign-on solution to limit “the number of steps employees need to take in order to access such helpful resources.”
2. Link social collaboration to business goals
The Aberdeeen report notes that companies should implement social with a goal in mind, adding that what really matters in the end is customers: “With social technologies in place, employees can access the right information and appropriate resolutions so they’re empowered to resolve customers’ issues and challenges. So if there’s ever a reason to invest, look no further than customers and the continual desire to retain them, no matter the costs …”
3. Demonstrate the value of social
While enterprise social networking is far from nascent, there are many companies that haven’t hopped on board or that use the technology in a limited manner (such as within certain departments or workgroups). To further or more fully engage employees, companies must demonstrate the value that social collaboration products and processes can bring to the organization.
Aberdeen recommends starting with a team or group that is working on a project that is facing a diverse set of challenges and that requires teamwork beyond everyday emails. This group should be supported and monitored throughout the pilot program, notes Aberdeen, and group members' accomplishments should be recorded and shared with the rest of the company--especially upper management.
"Be sure to present all relevant findings, success stories, and other insights to upper management and build their support,” notes the report. “Data focusing on improvements to employee productivity, customer retention, and customers in general are all great; also consider sharing any other relevant key performance indicators that will help demonstrate its internal and external value."
How is social technology being used within your company? If it’s not being used, why not? Please share your insight in the comments section below.