Summary: I’ve spent the last 1.5 days with Digital Workplace practitioners and thought leaders discussing the connected enterprise and social media inspired ways of working. Once again I have left the venue inspired and with a lot of food for thought. However, I have to admit that there is a struggle with the transition to the next phase. Various conversations at the conference have confirmed this impression. We have definitely left the age of “technology driven” change (was there one…like ever?). Now we seem to be stuck in the phase of “awareness for the real drivers” of management buy-in, business value and strong business logic integration. Don’t get me wrong: there is momentum and the whole things feels like getting out of a really really tight jumper…you’re just waiting to finally pull it over your head and go: YEAH! AIR TO BREATHE!
My last two days were full of inspiration. A lot of it. In addition to the joy of listening to another of Jane McConnel’s (@netjmc) inspirational talks and her insight from her Digital Workplace research I finally had the honour of listening to one of Dion Hinchcliff’s (@dhinchcliffe) keynote. The two field (knowledge) heavy weights were complemented by practice and vendor presentations. Bayer Material Science’s CIO Laurie Miller’s (@lauriemiller44) presentation definitely stood out and her angle on connected experts has provided a new and strong value proposition to me that will come in handy in future conversations.
So let me start with this new value proposition as one of my key take aways:
The Personal Brand. Inside an Organization. Built on Expertise & Experience.
This one has struck me in a way that it’s quite annoying because it’s so obvious. Any industry that is in its core driven by IP (intellectual property) lives (sometimes even exclusively) of its talent. Looking back into my past in advertising in marketing I remember that client’s moved with their creative counterparts from agency to agency. About professional service firms (aka consultancies) we say that it’s “people business”. If expertise counts you don’t hire the firm, you hire (or rather borrow) the person and you will move the firm if the person moves, too From a corporate HR angle I really agree to the statement that “you don’t leave companies, you leave managers” – and they become known if it starts being a trend.
Athletes are brands due to their physical capabilities and performance. From a recent conversation I know that those brands are worth billions and nurture entire industries.
With the introduction of “social” to the mechanics of communication, collaboration & information flow within organizations we have changed the perspective from “outside” to “inside”. From a branding perspective we could – or actually should! – do the same thing when it comes to people brands.
As much as I believe that companies should measure collaborative success and joint value creation I also think (since today) that it would make sense to lead people towards creating their personal brand. Leading in terms of creating awareness, enablement and formal measurement, if we want to put the real beef to the bone.
If companies and their people managers are able to drive the profiling of high performers or subject matter wizards, we solve so many issues at the same time:
- Capturing of intellectual assets and exposure to the organisation
- Refinement and sharpening of people profiles as the foundation for relevance based delivery of information & communication
- Improved retrieval of expert profiles (automated or manually)
My journey to find stakeholders and ambassadors for the “personal branding” business case starts today!
Social vs. Enterprise Collaboration
To be honest: I haven’t put much thought towards trying to actually separate the two. My strong belief is, that the fundamental business case (the organisational one) lies in the enablement of individuals and teams to successfully execute on core business processes and navigate through the company’s business logic. Well… with reference to the above I actually see the case for Social Collaboration as a separate thing. It derives from Enterprise Collaboration (EC) and is some kind of “spin off”. However, it’s not a layer but rather the glue between the protagonists of EC (and I am explicitly not calling it “foam” for the ones that were in Paris…).
Social Collaboration (SC) is a subject that has to be handled carefully because it’s not the free pass for the corporate Facebook (I’m not too keen to see it “at work” by the way) or the “social context will connect the dots” wild card. It will be the real art to make SC less “business” and more “people” but still have it sit on the same strong foundation (aka IA/taxonomy) and have a strong connection to the EC side of things in order to use assets that derive from SC in the context of the core business logic with ease (aka without media or UX break). Furthermore it has to be ensured that actual assets (e.g. documents) aren’t suddenly stored all over the place. This thought is definitely inspired by the slide @lauriemiller44 put up but maybe not 100% in-line with the content…
Anyway, this angle is food for thought for me…and I wanted to share it even though I haven’t digested it completely. Maybe someone else has something to share here as well.
Collaboration needs a meaning
@dhinchcliffe’s keynote was really inspiring and I could see so many things in there that I have stumbled across myself. What stood out for me was his recommendation to connect initiatives to business functions that can find value in the new ways of working quickly. (Right side of the following slide)
Essentially because the new opportunities that social and enterprise collaboration provide suddenly enable us to capture and enable things digitally that so far only existed outside of office, ERP and BPM.
To some extend this goes hand in hand with the search for purpose when it comes to “less formal” collaboration in the virtual space. @Judith_Will from BNP/Paribas Cardiff already said it in Berlin in 2014 at the INTRAnet.Reloaded conference: “What’s the project of your community?” I share her opinion that collaboration just for the collaboration’s sake doesn’t have much future in organisations that want to see some beef to the bone and ROI on their business productivity investments.
Another slide that Dion put up showed the potential evolution of collaboration (services) along the people or protagonist perspective:
It reminded me of one of my core (evangelizing) messages of the past few years. Because I believe that a lot of companies have jumped the stage of enabling “people with shared goals” in their approach towards the new ways of working. Inspired by impact and performance of Social Media in the outside world a lot of companies kicked of their enterprise 2.0 endeavors by connecting “people with shared interest & passion”.
That “interest & passion” however, weren’t the primary drivers for the majority’s work day was kind of forgotten in the process. I believe that this has been one of the reasons that enterprise 2.0 or social business initiatives haven’t delivered the substance in business impact.
A more general reflection on the content
Common denominators of almost all presentations – practitioner’s as well as vendor’s – were the following subjects:
- Without executive buy-in enterprise 2.0 will be going nowhere.
- We need change agents and ambassadors to drive and implement change.
- Enterprise 2.0 isn’t a technology discussion. (Uhm…reality check: yes it is. In the end it always is. We just have to make sure that we have clarified the “why” and “what” before the CTO lets the “how” out of the box…pun intended).
- We need to nurture conversation and exchange across silos and we need to break up closed space thinking.
So this leaves me with a major question:
What is preventing the actual digital transformation?
It was @dhinchcliffe again who might have put one essential piece to the puzzle on the screen: the transformation of business functions (and their processes) processes is essential in the enablement of the connected enterprises we’re so desperately seeking for.
In a recent article by McKinsey on “The seven traits of effective digital enterprises” the firm’s experts set out a guideline for the digital transformation of companies and seven essential building blocks. I’ve started to resonate on the article from an “inside the organization” perspective here. The seven building blocks are:
- Be unreasonably inspirational
- Acquire new capabilities
- Ring fence and cultivate talent
- Be quick and data driven
- Challenge everything
- Follow the money
- Be obsessed with the customer
A lot of the guidance is more or less “disruptive” to the old world. It could definitely create tension, competition and awareness for change. So my question is: who is the actual stakeholder group that we have to form a coalition with in order to drive the internal transformation and introduce disruption to what we know as “established and working”?
So I am closing this article with a simple proposal:
With social collaboration and enterprise 2.0 initiatives we intend to nurture the corporate dialogue and connect experts and expertise more effectively. Let’s find a way to get the stakeholders of the actual digital transformation into a conversation to speed up the process until the next conference…