For your social experiment ensure you put the right People, Process and Platform in place. The right people will provide enthusiasm and capability. The right process will mean effort is put where it’s needed and the right platform will enable delivery and ongoing use.
Social business is first and foremost about people, not technology, Why?
It’s people that run businesses, therefore it makes sense to start with them as protagonists of change. People know where the current problems are and can define them to a point that will enable a social business expert to highlight how a social business framework can improve the situation. Similarly opportunities for improvement can best be identified by the people that are working in the various departments, at the coalface so to speak. I can’t speak too highly of the skills and knowledge that exist in the heads of a group often referred to as worker bees. The concept of social business, where this group has a voice could transform the operation of a department, division or possibly even a whole organisation if they are provided with a vehicle to demonstrate what they know.
People are also the most affected by change so the introduction of a social framework should, by definition be consultative and collaborative. Social business is about business transformation so a successful rollout will, over time be phased into all operations of the organisation and at the same time touching all employees.
People will be your community as and such will be the driving force behind the success or failure of the social business project. Make sure they are consulted and involved. Utilise social business from day one to drive home the message that there is a better way to work.
Attention to process is critical as guidance for what should be done by whom, where and when. Having established the team with which to build the social business framework, planning the implementation, based on business need is the next step.
All businesses have a series of processes by which they operate and govern. It’s the lifeblood of every successful business. The task of the social business team is not to lock horns with the authors of these processes but to identify which of them could benefit most from a social business framework. It is critical to look at the business impact, both financially and operationally and to also establish methods of measurement, i.e. KPI’s that the social framework must meet at regular intervals to demonstrate its effectiveness.
Process also includes the significant cultural change that a social framework brings. It will disrupt current command and control decision making mechanisms and this will directly affect some employees, particularly those at senior levels. Ensure that your adoption strategy includes a significant piece on cultural change. There will be resistance to change and if not addressed could severely hamper both initial and long term adoption. Process too is often based on cultural attitude, i.e., we do things this way because our operational model dictates that we think in a certain fashion. Adopting a social business attitude means embracing innovation, risk taking and will to want change.
Take a pragmatic but enthusiastic approach to identifying which business processes may be ideal candidates for the early adoption of a social business approach, obtain acceptance and assistance from subject matter experts and lay out your plan for the social rollout, bearing in mind the critical business success factors you will need to satisfy and in fact should demand, prior to any implementation activities.
Last but certainly not least is the selection of the most appropriate social business software platform. The decision as always will depend on many factors, including key deliverables that drove the decision to adopt a social business operating model, organisation size, current technology platform, functionality and integration capabilities, cost, ease of use, which will obviously have an impact on adoption and implementation method, ie On-premise, Hosted or Cloud.
Vendors in this space include Jive Software (a proven leader in the field and shown by Gartner to be at the forefront of technology advancements, along with IBM and Microsoft. Others include Socialtext, Tibbr, Confluence by Atlassian, Telligent, MangoApps, Drupal Commons, etc.
The key issue here is that technology must service the identified business imperatives and back up the strengths of your people and processes.