3 Must-do’s for a successful enterprise social collaboration program

"I think execs are bought into the concept but do not know how to execute."

- a senior leader, when asked about sponsorship for enterprise social collaboration in his organization.

Looking back at our journey as well as our current challenges at Intel, 3 things stand out in my mind as essential elements of a successful social collaboration program.

1. Know your goals

Is increasing adoption of your enterprise social capabilities a goal for your organization? Think again. Having adoption as a leading success indicator could drive the wrong behaviors (over-collaboration, social ‘butterflies’ – M.Hansen).

Social tools are a means to an end goal – and the end goal is always business results. So start with your business goals and see how social collaboration can help you to achieve them.  For example – Your division needs to reduce time to market new products. Evaluate if social tools can cut down time for hand offs and knowledge transfer across teams – or if forums can help you to report and act on issues in a timely manner.  Your responsiveness in closing customer issues is poor and your support costs are high - maybe Social CRM can help. Such changes will shift focus from adoption for adoption sake, to true drivers of business value.

Adoption is a great lagging indicator that tells you the story of how social capabilities helped to achieve organizational results through crowdsourcing of ideas, timely communication, etc.

2. Serve in bite sizes

Your organization probably has a varied demographic mix, where many employees are overwhelmed with concerns such as Do I need to start blogging now? What if nobody “likes” or comments on my post? Can’t I just go back to email?

You can make the transition easy for everyone in the company by embedding social collaboration capabilities into standard operating procedures. For example – a team might decide upon wikis as the means to update status or as the document for best known methods. They might use forums for discussions, or to seek feedback on interim work products. Using these tools helps to improve productivity and collaboration within the team, and is not seen as one more thing that employees need to do. Also, it helps them to understand what is expected of them.

3. Make it safe

The easiest thing to do to ensure security of your knowledge assets is to lock everything down, and then padlock it some more. That way, nothing ever gets stolen – but then, nothing ever gets used either. The difficulty of determining the right level of controls is what makes information security such a challenging and valuable function in any organization.

Generations of office workers have been told to “err on the side of caution” when it comes to safeguarding information. Now they are being told to foster open collaboration so that their organization can derive the full value of their social enterprise investments. This is a big behavioral shift and you need to enlist information security professionals in your organization to help employees adopt the new paradigm. Empower employees with knowledge on information security (data classification, policies and guidelines) that will help them to make the right calls confidently. It is also important to make it safe for individual users by plugging any infosec holes in your systems (access to contract workers, ability to report abuse, logging and traceability, encryption etc.). Also recognize behaviors that foster an open and collaborative culture – such as freely sharing knowledge, and contributing valuable ideas on community forums.

Well, that's my list based on what I have experienced and learnt. Do share your insights, or get in touch to discuss.