Based on a customer workshop I’ve created a very condensed view on the add value social business IT can bring to an organisation. I’ve been playing around with it for some time now and had a couple of sparring sessions through conferences, client meetings and playing it back and forth with colleagues. The essence is pretty simple, allow employees to concentrate on their core business
. That’s my recommendation for two simple reasons:
- Most organisations measure their people on business operations KPI (impact on salary and career)
- Turning employees into networking and information management fanatics will negatively impact your business results
To understand priorities simply ask an executive (the ones setting goals!) to decide which of the three key drivers for corporate value
- business operations
- people assets
- corporate treasure of solution knowledge
her/he’d throw overboard if his hot-air balloon is going down. 1st alway goes the “people assets” (thereby becoming #3 priority), then solution knowledge has to go (becoming #2 priority). Can you blame him/her? No. As long as business have to create value and get more out that what was invested we simply have to get s**t done. The better we allocate ressources the more profitable we will be. That’s what a profit-orientated business is about.
That makes building, finding and using corporate knowledge an additional effort for employees* when being asked to focus on business operations only. Very rarely employees explicitly get measured upon re-using assets…and if they are it will only be a pretty small portion of their goal set (if it’s not their role). Take what’s happening in a lot of businesses: even if part of the work culture is “innovation” and “time for getting better” it will be cut down to a minimum as soon as waters become rough and stormy.
On top of that comes the “people asset” perspective. Since most of us are all coming from hierarchical and usually well structured organisations networking and openly seeking for help isn’t really popular. Besides the cultural aspect (becoming a company that accepts mistakes, imperfection and the power of combined expertise) seeking for the right people for a certain challenge or (the other way around) seeking for the challenges that match my personal skills and passions takes time time. Work time that has to be taken away from the time that I usually have for getting things done.
Social business – or better the idea behind social business – is supposed to exactly achieve the activation of people assets and corporate knowledge treasure without making it additional effort the employee. It simply becomes part of working towards the goals that were set in business operations. What corporation will make use of is the fact that some of the techniques (not technologies or tools) are and will become even more present with the folks in information and knowledge work.
However, I want to emphasize that some training will be required to make people understand how social media behavior is used/applied in corporate context. As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts I am starting to believe that even the future generations of information and knowledge workers will required a certain amount of handholding (still: no handbook!).
Key solutions have to be connected
Whatever business challenge you might think of…to some extend there are powerful solutions of most of them already. Ranging from ERP to CRM, DMS, CMS, WCM and profiling services you will find a lot of software from well known vendors such as Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com. On top of that come the new cloud players such as socialcast.com
, Yammer.com, 37signals etc. that provide social media inspired platforms for information work. They will provide help in addressing challenges. To create something more fundamental and sustainable it’s more about connecting the dots
. Creating the convergence that will eventually lead to more than just reaching operational excellence. Without making it something that goes on top of the duties that employees already have.
In my eyes, that’s what social business is about: Connecting the dots. Creating convergence without creating additional effort and burden on people that already work under immense pressure. That actually makes it a really socials business because it means enabling individuals and groups to achieve more with the same of even less effort.