The Missing Half Of A Social Enterprise

In my previous post “Social CRM Is Only The First Half Of A Social Enterprise” I started the discussion on why social CRM is only the first half of a social enterprise and how we can go to the core and build a true social enterprise. Continuing the discussion on the missing half on a social enterprise this is the part 2.

Transform productivity silos into collaborative content curation:

The social software gets better as more people use it but we need more people to make it useful. There is no easy way out. As Andrew McAfee’s rightly put it Email is a 9x problem. There isn’t significant juice in standalone social software to gain broader adoption due to the endowment effect. There is a huge adoption barrier for standalone social software to be successful since it is not contextualized into a business process. The users simply see it as yet another tool that increases their cognitive overload.

I suggest don’t go after social software that is designed to create a parallel universe. Instead design solutions that are contextualized within existing business processes and makes it very easy for the end users to curate existing content from several structured, semi-structured, and unstructured sources e.g. Email, Wiki, PowerPoint, ERP, CRM, SharePoint etc. The nature of the content could be any artifacts such as an invoice, purchase order, strategy document, pipeline report, documentation etc. Describing what collaborative content curation can actually do for enterprise software would require a blog post by itself. I suggest you read democratised curation by JP and "The Seven Needs of Real-Time Curators” by Scoble. But in nutshell if designed correctly it offers significant potential to help people find, nurture, and syndicate the enterprise content with collaboration on steroids. The users continue using the tools that they like. However suddenly these tools start feeling more and more social with collaborative on-ramps and off-ramps. Social media, cloud computing, and collaborative content curation will be peanut, butter, and jelly for a social enterprise.

Use social tools to challenge and rethink management practices:

Efficient tools are not a proxy for an efficient management. The tools of the past did bring the automation and productivity but did very little to influence the way the organizations are being managed. Adding social fabric to existing processes may bring in some additional benefits but a true social enterprise should thrive for the tools that completely make them rethink the management practices almost to the point to cause disruption.

How about opening up the cost structure to the entire organization, democratize the decision making process, run bottom-line based prediction markets – not how much we will sell it for but what will it cost us to build it. It’s an endless list. This will be unsettling in the beginning for some but it would eventually yield great results.

The generational shift is already ready for this disruption. The baby boomers are on their way out and the current mid-level and senior gen X managers will be replaced by the millennial very soon. Millennial is a born-social generation. As one millennial told my friend when asked what does career mean to him – “I want to have awareness of what’s going on around me, have micro-conversations on social tools, and create context. This context is my career”. Such philosophy will challenge the current management practices and put organizations in a difficult situation.

But this is an opportunity as well. The organizations can completely rethink the management practices as they start their journey to be a true social enterprise. This is not just about asking a CEO to use a blog to communicate with the employees but to have a social-first attitude at every single step of the management.

Earn your user base by leaning in with a consumer start-up mindset:

One of the biggest differences between the enterprise and the consumer software is that the user is not a buyer in the enterprise software. Enterprise software vendors don’t attempt to win the end users since they don’t have to. The end users have no choice. I suggest that if you are an enterprise software company that designs social solutions lean in with a consumer start-up mindset where you really have to earn your user base.

The cafeteria menu is my personal favorite example. One of my friends’ company spent $600k to redesign their intranet and the most popular page on the new Intranet is still the cafeteria menu that gets updated every week. Why not solve that problem? Provide cafeteria information that is fresh and accessible from mobile devices. Now, you have my attention. Add social and location-based functionality to help me find other employees to network and have lunch with. This is the new HCM. Well, not exactly, but you get the point.

If you attempt to design an IT-driven top-down solution to enforce “socialness” it simply won’t work. You need to win your users to use your solutions even if, in theory, they don’t have a choice.

Having fun and being productive should not be mutually exclusive.

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