The following article is based on an interview I had with Davin Wilfrid, Product Director at Future Insights Live and was first published on their blog.
It was only natural that the business world would gravitate toward social platforms as Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites swelled with activity. "How can we use this to get more out of our people?" the business world asked itself. "We need to put a Facebook in our email and have people tweet on their spreadsheets."Companies sprouted up everywhere to supply social platforms to big companies to "leverage" the latest and greatest. And most of them had no idea what they were doing.
Alan Lepofsky, VP and Principal Analyst for Constellation Research, says the business world is ready to move past its naive crush on social tools and into a productive relationship. What was once about "sharing" is now about "getting work done."
"Creating stand-alone social tools inside your company is irrelevant. Putting up a microblogging platform so people can talk about what they're doing and where they are is irrelevant. You have to tie all these tools into business processes for them to be successful," says Lepofsky.
Lepofsky will be speaking on the future of social business at Future Insights Live later this month. He says the time is right for many companies to integrate the power of social connections to boost performance.
For example, what if every time someone in an organization created a new sales lead, that information was broadcast to central activity stream instead of stored in a sales-only accounting system? A different employee might notice the new lead and be able to provide additional input — maybe her sister is the director of procurement — to the sales team. Because the activity is shared, the chances for valuable assistance increases.
The same principle applies to processes such as human resources, where someone's performance can be more accurately measured via familiar social activities (likes, call-outs, achievement badges, etc.).
Getting work done with social tools is not limited to big, distributed companies. Even small companies can benefit from the deep reach of social tools."If you have 50 people in your organization, can you tell me that you have all the intrinsic knowledge of the other 49? Do you know where their cousins work, what previous jobs they've had, or what languages they speak?"
Of course there are pitfalls. Lepofsky says the top mistake companies make is to plug in a social platform and expect people to use it. Even the top platforms on the market (Yammer, Jive, etc.) can become "yet another tool" that employees resent having to use — if the implementation is not carefully considered.
Successful companies implement social platfoms to solve a real business challenge — and they make those platforms a central part of the processes for employees in a particular area. Lepofsky bemoans the focus on user adoption rates, instead promoting an "all or nothing" approach.
"If the tool is something people have to use to get their job done, then you're going to see 100% adoption," he says.
Hear more from Alan at Future Insights Live