In Industry

Originally posted by Douglas Bacon’s blog. Douglas is an Enterprise Collaboration Strategist and Novartis Product Manager based in Boston.

So, in the last post I set the stage for defining the “Enterprise Collaboration” space. We now know the terminology in this space can certainly be confusing, but have scoped our discussion (yes, “discussion”, please comment!). By now you’ve likely gleaned that my objective is to go well beyond defining a term and in fact attempt to define a (rapidly evolving) domain, a domain that will shape the future of organizational operations (if you haven’t read the The 2020 Workplace, check it out!).

I wanted to spend a little time talking about what a target-state social business looks like. This will help us identify the value of a fully-networked organization and “drop-a-pin” on our destination. Now keep in mind each organization has unique operations and organizational objectives, so the “ideal-state” collaboration platform would certainly be dependent on those variables, BUT I’ve attempted to outline some “IF WE LIVED IN A DREAM WORLD” features for MOST large, global organizations.

This is an attempt to get more descriptive on that Wikipedia definition of Social Media referenced in the last post:

“social interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks”

So here’s what we’re talking about:

1) Associate profile layer
NO, not a SP MySite that employees populate, if they feel like it. We’re talking about fully automated associate profiles derived from 4 major sources:

  • Internal Data (HR, CRMs, ECMs, Project server, etc.)
  • External Data (LinkedIn, publications, domain-specific sources)
  • Machine Learning (Many ESNs these days have this built in, but there are independent AND more comprehensive potential options, check out WhoKnows for one)
  • Periodic, targeted surveys

(Yes, HR/Legal folks, I hear ya, we’ll get to the global, mostly EU, issues around this later!)

2) Communities/Sites
These house a variety of content types: documents, pictures, videos, wikis, tables, etc. and are built from a logical Information Architecture (IA) aligned with organizational structure, including:

  • Departmental/Group “sites”
  • Communities of Practice (business focused)
  • Communities of Interest (associate interests focused).
    • Small note on these: I DO think these are important and SHOULD be allowed and promoted, I ALSO believe these should be segregated from search by default and should only be included in Newsfeeds if users opt-in individually as to ensure an initial interpretation of a BUSINESS tool.

3) Associate blogs/shared content
Shared space for each associate where they can blog, share pictures, documents, etc.

4) Enterprise Search
The old “Google for the company” thing everyone asks for. Except here’s what they really mean:

  • I want people spending time on curating content (Google has thousands!)
  • I want a consistent organizational term-set & ontology for organizing content
  • I want content to know me! (where I sit- geographically + organizationally, what I’m interested in, what other people like me were looking for, etc.)
  • I want EVERYTHING crawled + indexed
  • I want to know something exists, even if I don’t have access to it AND I want to be enabled to request access to it easily

5) Gamification (or for those who have “packaged” this in an exec presentation: “Embedded Recognition”)
Earning badges/praise for behaviors that have been deemed valuable to the platform/organization (i.e., answering questions correctly in Communities of Practice) AND will be added to associate expertise as it’s earned

6) Analytics/Reporting/Metrics
Comprehensive activity & web analytics dashboard, displayed in the context of the organization (views by geography, location, department, manager, tenure, age group, etc.). Sentiment analysis on corp comms. Governance (especially for FinServ, understand those FINRA/SEC requ’s!), crawling for keywords/content, find and quarantine, e-discovery, etc.

7) Enterprise Newsfeed
Aggregated feed of updates/activity based on what individual users have subscribed to/followed across the platform (individuals, communities, departments, groups, etc.) AND are target to them intelligently based on their interests/expertise/background (if I post a question about how to submit a procurement request, it should find the experts based on the content of the post!)

8) Internal/External News
News related to the company, its clients, employee news (what you probably get blast emails about today), industry news, regulatory updates, etc.

Think something is missing from this list?! (I certainly debate a couple others)- COMMENT!
So in an ideal world we would have all these features embodied in a fully integrated, fully adopted core Enterprise Social Network (ESN). It would be available on any device, anywhere (Mobile is now the #1 mode of media consumption in the U.S., if your strategy doesn’t included a quick move to mobile, wake up!!). Furthermore it should be available on your associates preferred device (in my opinion the best approach to mobile is allocating a budget for new associates to acquire their own device, then giving them a monthly budget aligned with the expectations of their device usage- maybe $60 for most common associates, more for globetrotters, then setting it up on the MDM platform- Good, MobileIron, AirWatch, etc.). It should also be VPN-less access (if you expect your associates to log into their phone, then VPN to access the ESN app, you can basically forget about broad mobile adoption).

OK, well, that’s enough for today I think! Next we’ll take a look at where you can find what we’ve outlined above (PLENTY of vendors in this space these days, it pays to do your research!). In reality you’re not going to get everything we’ve talked about here from one place, BUT the big guys (Microsoft, CISCO, Salesforce, IBM, etc.) are clearly working on developing ecosystems (this concept might deserve it’s own post) that address much of this (some pretty mature in this space, others playing catch-up). We’ll take a look at their road maps, more niche players (Huddle, MangoApps, Sitrion, Jive) and some important considerations for establishing a sustainable ESN that is aligned for continuous improvement (and doesn’t depend on you developing all those improvements).

P.S. If you’ve read both of my initial posts here you might be thinking: Hmmm, this is getting complicated! To this I’d say: YES, IT IS! Gartner indicated 80% of Social Business initiatives would “fail” through 2015. We can debate the merits of the predication and what “fail” really means, but I believe prevailing wisdom in this space is: that sounds about right. The 20% that don’t fail have folks (or partner with folks) that GET IT. They have taken the time to understand and become a student of this world. They are also passionate about it and are not just doing it because their COO/CIO/CEO read an analyst report, got interested in it and threw it on their desk to do something about. If you’re not passionate about it and/or don’t have the time to commit to some serious research, do yourself a favor and find someone that is/does.

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