Category Archives: Business Performance

Social Software and Business Performance (Part 2)

In the first part of this post, we described the importance of user-recognized value (i.e. – the system helps users get the job done) as key to true adoption of social business software.

As we continue to examine the Deloitte Report discussed previously, the point is made that in this new world of near-constant disruption exceptions will no longer be exceptional, but rather will be the norm.

Social Business software is particularly adept at assisting with the management of exceptions.  Deloitte notes this example:

“Sales Associates at Avaya use … microblogs to tap into what their peers are saying. Using the tool, they can glean competitive intelligence, stay attuned to marketplace trends, and access materials to use with clients. When a Sales Associate encounters an exception, he or she searches conversations on Socialcast to see if anyone else has dealt with a similar situation. This easy access to institutional memory saves time. If a Sales Associate does not find a discussion about a similar exception, he or she can post a question to the group, eliminating the time-consuming process of identifying the right person or e-mailing a massive list-serve and receiving redundant responses.”

As the report illustrates with this example, social business software assists in the identification of knowledge – be it digital or human – to resolve business exceptions.  Other ways that social business software can help address exceptions are also illustrated in the Deloitte example.

First, social business software helps identify expertise, either via directly querying the social network or by identifying the creators of valuable content.

Second, social business software breaks down traditional barriers  within companies and across value chains.  Because communication and conversation more seamlessly and extensively crosses organizational boundaries with the aid of social business software, both the communication and awareness of exceptions are more widely disseminated – in sharp contrast to traditional, team-oriented, direct communication paradigms.

Third, social business software preserves institutional memory.  While software systems have preserved information regarding exceptions (call center software, anyone?) for generations, what’s important about social business platforms is that they integrate numerous exception generating contexts onto a single social awareness platform.  While previous generations of systems might preserve the memory, the archives remain very limited with respect to context and awareness of the memory.

Finally, because the various institutional memory contexts are now integrated into the social platforms, data is now available that allows organizations to analyze and discover issues and opportunities that were previously hidden.

Exceptions are more likely to be encountered in the arena of projects and project management than in any other place within an organization.  Because of this, social project management is an obvious area where strong context-specific social business applications can be developed and integrated into a broad social business platform.

Check back next week for our next post:  Social Project Management – the multiplier of social business performance.

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Social Software and Business Performance (Part 1)

Bill Ives has an interesting post on his Portals and KM Blog talking about a new research report from Deloitte called Social Software for Business Performance. Bill’s post focuses on the section of the report that deals with establishing proper metrics for social software impact, but we want to highlight other areas of the report in our Project Wall posts.  To begin with, let’s look at the need for employees to perceive usefulness in the platform in order for true adoption of the system to take place across the workforce.

Deloitte and Ives both rightly argue that the current metrics for “adoption” of social software are not very useful because they are based solely on the number of users who interact with the system.  We think that this measure of adoption is especially flawed, given that most companies who are implementing a social software platform see expertise identification as a key low-hanging fruit for the project and mandate that users enter the system and create an expertise profile.  If we simply measure the number of users who have created a profile, are we really getting a sense of “adoption” of the platform?  Clearly not.

On page 5 of the report, Deloitte describes a case study at Alcoa:

“At first, employees only used the Traction software platform because their managers required it. However, as employees identified and shared specific ways to use the software to improve their performance and work more efficiently, they integrated it into their daily workflow.”

Employees look at tools and evaluate their usefulness based upon the ability of the tool to help them get their job done.  Until employees evaluate the social software system through the lens of “what’s in it for me?” and consequently make a positive assessment, adoption of the system is unlikely – except in the case of managerial mandate.

However, when a social platform is used to create context-specific business-driven applications, the social platform’s value becomes transparent to users. Another quote from Alcoa:

“One day it just clicked for me. I realized how using the software could really improve my productivity. From that point on, I started using it whenever possible and not just when my boss told me to do so. That’s when I started seeing [the system] help me do my job better.”

Now that’s adoption.

Businesses that have implemented social software platforms need to help users find the value in social business interactions in order to drive adoption and business value.  They can do this by providing context-specific social business applications on top of their platforms, such as social project management.

More on social project management and its ability to drive business performance in Part 2 of this post later this week.