Can Social Collaboration Work in Business?

Business-PlanningSocial media has become so prevalent in our lives, most of us would
hardly bat an eye if our parents opened a Facebook or Twitter account.

You might even call it “normal” to have such an account.
So why shouldn’t we share and collaborate in our business lives
the same way we do in our personal lives?

Regardless of their best efforts, most enterprises have seen their socially
oriented business software ignored by users. The max that enterprises are
adopting is Unified Communications. It’s only when business leaders
understand that social software for enterprises operates on a
different blueprint — one that needs execution and delivery
as well as collaboration, will social finally take flight in businesses.

Missing Expectations
One of the reasons that social media in the enterprise caught fire early on is because
it did actually turn some aspects of business on their heads. Customer support teams
use Twitter for support and feedback issues. LinkedIn is used by hundreds of recruiters
to score new talent. Marketing people reach out to millions of users through Facebook
pages, and create campaigns specifically to add to the number of “likes.” IndieGoGo,
Kickstarter and many other crowdsourcing platforms allowed young startups finance
their first round of funding through the public, instead of endlessly pitching
VCs or scrawling in interminable bank loan applications.

And of course, business leaders want the same kind of results from their enterprise social software, for collaboration both outside and inside the organization. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the magic lamp that everyone was wanting. Despite its rapid and wide adoption, enterprise social just hasn’t met expectations. A recent article in CMSWire (“Gartner MQ for Workplace Social Software: IBM, Jive, Microsoft, Salesforce Lead Volatile Market,” 9/16/13), Gartner found the market for corporate social software was growing at a compounded annual growth rate of over 13 percent. They also estimated that it would grow to $1.4 billion in 2016.

Still, execs are beginning to understand that the goal of enterprise social networks is not just to comment on Friday’s softball game, or to gripe about the lunch menu in the cafeteria — but rather to allow teams to collaborate around work. Although Facebook-like tools do make it convenient to share information with diverse teams, they don’t help workers engage in their tasks, deliverables or projects.

There’s More to Business Than Just Sharing
For a corporation, a role of social collaboration is to assist with getting work done better, on time, and on budget. The executives who are evaluating their enterprise’s social software strategy should be aware of the difference between the simple broadcast/communication tools, and those that actually drives results by enabling collaboration. Ultimately, the best solution is the one that enables team members, both external and internal, to brainstorm, communicate, dream up new innovations, then use that same tool to drive that idea to execution and then delivery. Any good tool will begin with the social aspect, then include execution and delivery. Users ought to be able to create groups as needed around particular projects and initiatives. They should be able to turn conversations into action items to be completed. Perhaps a few of these tasks will grow into projects of their own, which will require they have resources, interdependencies, milestones, deliverables, and a budget. It might even create a revenue or cost generating event.

These steps are how enterprise social communications develop into measurable results for your business; it’s these tools that decision-makers can use to evaluate any enterprise social media products they are examining. There are many on the market that do some things better than others. The sweet spot is where you can find most, or all the features in the same product.

About The Author
Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening
to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business.
She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to
make understanding them easy for regular people.