Driving business value with enteprise social

The next webinar I was lucky enough to listen in to was from Yammer and was called "Driving business value with enterprise social" and included presentations from Charlene Li of Altimeter and Roland Hulme of Tyco.

Charlene began by looking at the evolution of collaboration from Knowledge Management to Collaboration Platforms to where we are now with Enterprise social networks. These enterprise social networks effectively mirror the social networks used in the consumer world.

Charlene then explained that there were four ways in which organisations could drive business value through the use of enterprise social tools. They are by;

  1. Encouraging sharing
  2. Capturing knowledge
  3. Enabling action
  4. Empowering employees

Charlene then went into some detail about why these elements are so important. So in relation to encouraging sharing, this is important because it creates a two way dialogue, makes business personal and makes people feel closer to leaders by reducing the distance. So if an individual sees a blog post from a CEO or CFO they're likely to feel more connected and closer to them because they can read what they've posted and potentially comment on it.

Next Charlene looked at how it's important to be able to capture knowledge, especially if you're often asked to identify expertise. Capture knowledge effectively will avoid duplication of effort and also means organisations should have more effective coordination, if they can see what other individuals are working on and what expertise they have. Capturing knowledge is also important in sharing best practices to ensure your organisation is working as effectively as it can. However even more important is how your organisation captures tacit knowledge, that is the knowlegde that exists inside someones head and that isn't written down anywhere. This can be the most important knowledge to capture as it will include questions that individuals are asked again and again. Capturing this in an effective and efficient way is a potential role for an enteprse social tool.

Another area where enterprise social tools can help is around solving problems. How well essentially because enterpirise social networks cane help bring outsiders into conversations that might not have otherwise been involved in. Finally enterprise social networks an help empower employees by giving them a voice they might not have had otherwise. Enterprise social networks also allow employees to make meaningful contributions, increase engagement and potentially increase satisfatction and retention of staff. However in order to do this there needs to be engagement by those at the very top of the organisation.

Finally Charlene looked at how organisations could move forward with enterprise social networks. She outlined four areas that form a strrategy for the development of enterprise social tools. They are;

  • Objectives, these need to be clear and identify and prioritise the gaps that an enteprise social tool can fill. Organisations should also ensure that they design their long terms goals with a clear purpose in mind.
  • Metrics, whilst you might not think metrics would be important at the start of the projetc, it's important to have these in place to measure the success of the project.
  • Relationship management, is an important consideration. So this means ensuring that there is an appropriate budget, number of staff and that the project is resouced appropriately. Organisations should also ensure that executives are involved at an early stage.
  • Think about the relationships you want to build with enterprise social. This is very important and essentially means looking at what you relationships and conversations you want to encourgae and build your enterprise social tool around this. Not necessarily around features. Once your enteprise social tools is in place then you should think about having simple guidelines and investing in evangelists.

After Charlene we heard from Roland Hulme of Tyco who talked extensively about how they had moved their intranet from an unknown tool (my guess SharePoint 2010) to Yammer. Roland talked about some of the issuses they had with their existing intranet and some of the reasons why they chose Yammer. From the perspective of an intranet manager this was very interesting.

One of the biggest driver for adopting Yammer according to Yammer was that it matched the strategy of the business in that they were looking to make communictation more open, get answers faster, be seen as a unified and reduce IT and other costs. Roland also explained how the did it, which again was quite interesting, although sadly there weren't any screenshots of what I would call traditional intranet content. How they did it, looked like it was very well planned and included an audit of review of all resources.This is something you'd definitely see in a normal intranet project, so it surprised me to see it here!

Finally Roland outlinded the results, which were quite frankly impressive;
  • A siginficant increase in enrollment (users)
  • Engagement
  • A huge increase in the amount of content being created.

What I would say in relation to all these points is that this is what Yammer is designed to do. So it's not really a surprise. Overall a really interesting webinar, which an interesting case study and some great hints and tips from Charlene Li.