How to foster Social collaboration in workplaces – Best practices Part 1

Social collaboration

Fostering social collaboration in organizations is an art as well as science. Whether you are a new entrepreneur or an executive in an established company, fostering social collaboration and thereby leading to innovation needs the acceptance of chaos in the initial product development stages.

It is imperative that we avoid making detailed long-term plans but instead focus on the smaller details of users or customers’ needs and wants. We have to allow managerial teams to compete with many alternative designs and projects within a framework of goals and limits to achieve the desired results.

Further, it is a common understanding and perception that small companies foster greater social collaboration than large Companies. This is not necessarily true. However, there is a lot to learn from the managerial practices of some of the world-class companies on fostering social collaboration and innovation. These practices can help other companies and managerial teams to learn and be more socially collaborative.

Firstly, what is social collaboration?

Social collaboration is a set of processes where groups of individuals interact with each other to do common goals. The interaction might also be a ‘Brainstorming’ activity where people participate and new ideas emerge out of the participation and contribution.

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How to reap social media benefits for SMEs ?

social media benefits for sme

Reaping social media benefits for SME’s depends on how well social media is internalized within their own organizations. We have seen and read many articles from various publications and blogs world over on how small and medium enterprises can reap social media benefits externally for business development.

By externally, I mean in the areas of digital and content marketing, advertising, understanding customer preferences, product development and website traffic boost. But little has been spoken on how social media can help organizations internally by capitalizing on its people’s connections, strength, and relationships.

Organizations, big or small need to capitalize on the connections that are available to them. They (Organizations) come with varying business models, profit or non-profit and customer base but they all have one thing in common and that is the people.

Emphasis on people is important for realizing social media benefits

The success of social media in organizations is not about the efficient use of technology but about its people. The relationships and connections that people have can boost ideas, energy, and purpose. Such relationships can bolster the social media marketing efforts externally as well. After all, employees are the best brand ambassadors of the company. If you keep them happy, they will spread the good word. Such goodwill is far more valuable than the exclusive digital marketing of your product on a popular social media tool.

It is important that SMEs should try and make the usage of social media a success within their own organization and showcase this to the world. Once they do it, it goes without saying, there is every chance that social media users across the world will simply love it and start adopting or engaging with their products and services.

People form strong bonds of social capital within themselves and with their work environment. Being open to their ideas, sharing tacit knowledge and genuine insight stems from this fact. Also, openly sharing, peering and acting and collaborating together, locally or globally are some of the key aspects of social media collaboration among employees.

In fact, these are fundamental to the use of social media collaboration tools. Tools like Wiki,  chat software, discussion forums and communities of practice have traditionally existed. The latest entrant in this space is the use of whiteboard collaboration where documents and diagrams can be edited in real time.

A simple case study for reaping social media benefits in an SME

To build this case and to capture the lessons learned, I would like to look at a small leadership consulting and organizational development firm called Emergent Solutions Inc. headquartered in Palo Alto in California. I would like to thank the authors of the book “social media at work” in the presenting the nuances of the challenges and issues faced by this firm.

As with any SME during the growth phase, much of the employee’s time gets buried in running the operational and transactional processes of the company. Being in the leadership consulting space, the focus had to be more on the projects, best practices, resource materials and effective customer solutions.

The organization after looking at various software finally chose the Wiki collaboration for social media collaboration among its people.

They created separate workspaces for sharing news, posting project details, best practices and ideas for improving customer solutions. They even had separate workspaces for presenting customer challenges and thought leadership discussions for seeking insight and ideas from everybody involved in the organization.

For capturing client inputs and requirements they had even set up a space for private client workspaces.

Employees were able to track their projects and present solutions to their clients on time for their consulting engagements.

The effective use of collaborative Wiki has in-fact streamlined their operational processes and they were able to focus more on other value-added consulting activities.

The company has even taken a step further, for showcasing their own collaboration success story to their clients and thereby showcasing their own global capabilities and as an effective solution partner.

A summary of lessons learned

The success of implementing a Wiki collaboration software for realizing social media benefits was largely a case of commitment and ownership among the employees. Nevertheless, there are some lessons that can be shared.

  • It is the essential to share the vision and benefits to the entire team. So that everyone understands and knows where they are headed
  • Creating effective process templates that suit the need of all the employees is important so that it encourages co-creation.
  • It is important to keep and make the implementation exercise a fun to explore and engage. People are more likely to accept and ease into the new ways of working when they are not forced.
  • Most importantly, it is important to employ a community manager or a ‘knowledge broker’ who can clean up and keep things tidy for other members to access the tool and contribute content.
  • Lastly, the founding members need to show the leadership commitment and passion. This commitment and passion will drive the commitment among their community members.

There are multiple ways that SMEs can reap benefits of social media in their organizations. As seen in the above example, business processes and customer base might vary among organizations but the central theme remains the same. We just need to see how we can embrace social media and adopt a new mindset and also on how those technologies can yield results.

Cheers.

 

Garbage in garbage out, can social media in the workplace change that?

garbage in garbage out; social media in the workplace

Garbage in garbage out (GIGO) is a popular computing jargon used in enterprise computing and IT applications in large corporations across the world. Social media in the workplace has the influence to change all that with the introduction of Web 3.0.

Computer applications are designed by logical processes for transaction entry. If there is a poor data entry and the data is nonsensical, the output would also be poor and non-sensical.  Such poor and flawed data have huge implications. People believe what they see on the computers and they rely on the data for decision making.

Owing to the speed, urgency and not much care taken during the data entry in large organizations, such garbage in, garbage out is a common phenomenon. Well, social media in the workplace is set to change all of that. A more recent statement ‘Garbage in, gospel out’ might be a reality in the future.

The introduction of Web 3.0

Web 2.0 enabled us to make connections, create content and share it with our friends. It allowed us to interact with each other through multiple devices. Now with Web 3.0, the internet has become much smarter. We now call it the intelligent internet. It allows us to not just publish content on the internet in a democratized way but also mine data to suit the user’s requirements. Social media in the workplace with Web 3.0 might know the user’s preferences, analyze the meaning, and serve only pages and data which is highly relevant to the users.

You can also read out blog post article on “The global brain and graph theory”.

This affects the way, employees will create and use knowledge. Knowledge and data become more precious and they will be mined democratically where needed and when needed. Social media in the workplace will be more context dependent and context based. There will be smart interconnections among colleagues. People will start realizing the benefits and make an effort to enter the right and relevant information for future use.

Even in the consumer space, there are a number of social media tools in use. We see vandalized information all the time on some social media sites. Even the most popular ones are not left out.

Keeping this mind, the future models of social media sites with Web 3.0 would bring in more contextual information in the likes of ‘Siri’ and ‘Google’ says Cormac Reynolds from the Online marketer, a London-based digital marketing firm. You can find his website here.

‘Siri’ is a computer program for the IOS, macOS and tvOS operating systems from Apple Inc.  What appears to be the future, ‘Siri’  works as a digital personal assistant and makes recommendations and requests to other web services. Interesting !

Within large organizations, the introduction of Web 3.0 will change the ‘garbage in garbage out’ phenomenon. Knowledge generation and usage will be more dynamic, relevant and competitive within the organization. The organization becomes a ‘truly learning organization’. Learners will accelerate.

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