Social business is maturing and becoming part of the mainstream tool belt of many companies, yet success is still elusive for many. A recent article in PC World titled Many employees won’t mingle with enterprise social software states that the lure of an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) is often unrealized. The article also suggests that 70-80% of companies who are implementing an ESN are struggling with them. It goes on to list several reasons for this. They also include a decent case study from GE to demonstrate the success that can be achieved. However, I feel the article is too specific, leaving the reader to extrapolate how this applies to them.
What do you do an a business space where the signal to noise ratio can be so low you can hardly hear yourself think? You poke fun at of course. In an effort to raise awareness to the jargon that is being used in Social Business, I offer you Social Business Buzzword Bingo. If you’re talking or listening to a Social Media Expert, Thought Leader, ninja, Guru etc. Listen to what they say. Are they talking clearly and articulating the value of social business or are they talking Jargon?
Update: 3/24/15 – I renamed this post from “Why gamification is bad for social business” because I think it sends a different message than what this blog post was trying to convey. I believe gamification can be very beneficial for driving change, but heuristics make us all take shortcuts that focuses us on the points, badges and leaderboards.
Many believe that introducing gamification to social business systems can and will drive behavior change inside of organizations. Introducing these components will certainly cause many people to act differently, but will the changes be the desired changes, or will they actually make things worse?
To help social business emerge from hype to mainstream adoption, it is important to demystify how social business improves people’s jobs. One area that social business can benefit across a wide range of areas inside of companies is the Communications Plan. Today, communications plans have wide application across many areas of business:
- Change Management
- Organizational Change (re-orgs)
- Crisis Communications
- Product releases
In my last post, The Google+ Experiment (Part 1), I shared my history and thoughts around Google+ that led me to go back and re-evaluate Google’s social networking platform. In this post, I’ll try to capture my thoughts on the experiment itself. I do not consider this a “new user” view because I’ve been on G+, built some circles and have already played with the platform. This experiment is in the context of a re-visit, enabling me to focus on what’s changed both from a platform and personal perspective that might make G+ a worthwhile candidate for my time and attention.
Differentiating between Facebook & Twitter
The first thing that I wanted to answer was how did G+ differentiate itself from Facebook and Twitter. This was hard at first because many of the contributions to my stream were people who thought sharing links endlessly was the best way to leverage Google+. That made G+ very noisy and difficult to follow. As I started to evaluate who those users were, I started un-circling the broadcasters (people who share a lot of links, but don’t provide any commentary or context). I will say that this instantly made the content in my stream more interesting. I was left with 3 types of contributions:
Ever since Google started with social networks, I’ve been skeptical. But Google+ seems to have more staying power than any of the previous attempts (e.g. dodgeball, wave, buzz). By taking an agile development approach, it allowed Google to release a product that was far from complete, but had enough functionality to make the product usable. This approach is called Minimum Viable Product. The challenge with this approach is that people came, saw, evaluated and left. Many of these people never looked back. I think Alan Lepofsky captured it well when he tweeted:
In the social business arena, many strategists and practitioners have learned to dance very well. Usually they do their best moves when asked, “What’s the ROI of Social Business?” From industry experts, to vendors, to practitioners you hear lots of soft benefits from people when asked this question. Often, you hear some broad sweeping general statement such as Find experts faster or Improve innovation. I’ve written in previous posts that these terms are mostly jargon that must be demystified to be understood.
Another approach to estimating ROI is to look at the social media tool in use and suggest the value is people are logging on and participating. Another area of confusion is the topic of “engagement“. This term has been used for years to describe workers who are “fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work.” But somewhere along the way it’s been repurposed to mean “contributor” by the social business crowd. These definitions are completely different and can cause great confusions inside of companies.
Over the past 4 years, I’ve seen some incredible successes implementing social business solutions both personally and from my peers. As I look for my next opportunity to drive social business inside of organizations, I wanted to build and share a list of principles that I believe are critical for the success of any social business strategy.
- Focus on other’s success, not your own – This isn’t about you. Your key objective should be to make the people who can benefit from social successful. You can do this by offering possible solutions to their business challenges without being preachy. Establish a good reputation inside the company as a person who will help you be successful. One way to facilitate this would be to share your goals & objectives publicly so that others can see what your motivations are. (see: http://greg2dot0.com/2012/06/21/transparent_goals/) Continue reading
As we look at enterprise social networking and the benefits it enables, it’s clear that the companies perform better when people collaborate. Yet as individuals, collaboration is not necessarily how we’re judged and rewarded. This usually has to do with our objectives which tend to be very focused on being individual contributors. Even executives’ objectives tend to be focused toward organizational performance, and sometimes these objectives can only be achieved at the company’s or other executive’s expense.
When dealing with new people inside a large company, it is common to question why people are acting the way they are and be suspicious of motives. This is often because people don’t understand what your role is inside the company and as a result, that lack of understanding and trust can make getting things done challenging.
Microsoft is no stranger to enterprise. It’s been doing it for over 30 years. But what is a challenge, is Microsoft is a technology company that interfaces primarily with IT. This is the group that traditionally believes their job ends at deployment. Social Business on the other hand is a space where deployment is the easy part. Getting business people to leverage the technology to do things differently is really hard. The limited success of Microsoft Dynamics is one example of what happens when Microsoft tries to interface directly with the business.
In many companies, the relationship between the business and IT is strained at best, but even in companies where the relationship is good, it’s unclear that IT has the expertise or capability to drive social adoption within a company. This is for many reasons: