The Social Business Gets Results

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
social business

Social business is more than a collection of technologies. It's a fundamentally different way to approach strategic challenges and achieve desired results.

The company now relies on a number of technologies and tools to facilitate internal communication, calendaring and file sharing, internal Webcasts and more—and to extend the features to mobile workers. This includes Microsoft SharePoint and Jive Software.

"Previous static Word documents are now shared," Gullo reports. "They are part of a group task list that makes it easier to work on the correct version of the document, know what the current status is and track what else needs to be done."

The process cuts down on time and paper and reduces the risk of problems and errors, he says. In addition, community managers oversee social content, which has blossomed into ideation and innovation blogs, wikis and communities.

Building a Collaborative Culture

Building a platform and an IT infrastructure that supports social business also requires thinking about how to generate maximum engagement. Although seamlessly connected systems are an important part of the picture, it's no bulletin that employees do not adopt tools and technologies at the same pace.

What's more, Millennials and younger workers demonstrate different work styles than older workers. The former group typically gravitates toward mobile apps and social tools, while older workers prefer emails and phone calls. It's critical to design systems and work with employees to bridge these potential gaps.

Todd Shimizu, managing director and market leader for the Technology Sector practice at PwC, says that effective social business incorporates three key concepts. First, there must be a sense of a shared mission and a feeling of a community that's linked together. Second, participants must engage with a feeling of mutual trust and a belief that they will be treated fairly and with respect. Third, an organization must create new assets and additional value as a result of a social business platform.

"It needs to be more than a set of productive conversations," Shimizu points out. "It's about creating a set of relationships that produce greater benefits—and, ultimately, tangible assets. All of this translates into the need for change management, education, training, and mechanisms and metrics for measuring results."

It may also mean creating recognition and rewards for participation and contributions, and finding group and community leaders— Shimizu describes them as Sherpas—who spark conversations, guide discussions and focus questions, issues and tasks. Within this context, "Softer and more human skills are exceptionally important," he notes.

Accenture's Kass says that business and IT leaders must move beyond a "build it and they will come" mindset. "People, including employees, are not looking for new things to do and new ways to work," he says. "They are looking for better and easier ways to work. They want tools that dramatically transform tasks."

One thing is clear: Social business will continue to evolve at a rapid rate. Ultimately, Kass says, it's up to IT to stitch together an integrated communication and collaboration environment that extends to business partners and customers, when appropriate.

"We have reached a point where there are so many communication channels and collaboration tools that organizations and workers risk becoming overwhelmed," he observes. "It's up to IT to build bridges between the different channels and, from an end user's perspective, make the technology invisible."

This article was originally published on 2014-06-19

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for Baseline.

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