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Working Together

How to develop an Enterprise 2.0 strategy that makes your business more innovative and secure

by Kate Pavao, June 2012

Today’s workers expect to use blogs, forums, social email, wikis and full collaboration platforms to communicate, share information and drive ideas. And this can be a good thing for businesses. After all, as Jacob Morgan, principal and co-founder of Chess Media Group, a management consulting and strategic advisory firm on collaboration, points out,  “Why would you not want to rely on the collective intelligence, power and voice of all the employees within your company?”

But how do executives figure out which Enterprise 2.0 tools are best for their workforce — and get their employees to use them? Here Profit talks to Morgan, author of The Collaborative Organization, about how managers can use emerging technologies to recruit talent, improve productivity — and make workers happier.

Profit: Why should executives develop a collaboration strategy?

Morgan: Talent acquisition and retention are big reasons. All the new employees entering the workforce are so used to tools like Facebook and Twitter, blogs and texting. They are going to expect these same type of capabilities within the enterprise. They are going to expect to be able to reach out to other people and find information, to be able to learn and grow by asking questions and participating in discussion. If these capabilities don’t exist, why would they be there? Work won’t be very efficient for them.

Security is another reason. Right now, in many companies, if employees have discussions that are inaccurate or confidential, there’s no way for managers to know. But if you deploy a collaborative environment where employees are free to share and talk to each other, you have insight into what they are saying. You can fix inaccuracies and leaks, and get support from the organization as a whole to identify and fix mistakes.

Finally, when it comes to innovation and identifying opportunities, you want to be able to rely on the collective intelligence and voices of all the employees within your company.

Profit: What’s wrong with email?

Morgan: Email isn’t a good collaboration platform. Sometimes, it’s good for one to one messages, but it is not very efficient for finding subject matter experts, transferring knowledge or aligning everyone in a particular department or group around the same goal.

Also, roughly one day plus out of every employee’s workweek is spent just looking for information. And when it comes to email, information often gets lost or duplicated, because there’s no way to organize, share and store information in an efficient and effective way. So, in terms of generally getting work done, email is not the best place to go.

Profit: How can managers figure out where to start collaborating?

Morgan: The easiest way to find out what areas you need to focus on is by asking your employees. Submit between three to five question to your enterprise to really identify where collaboration is already happening successfully, where it is happening but may need more resources, and where it is not happening even though there is a strong business need for it.

You can also ask what tools your employees use and why. These questions will give you insight into where you should be starting initiatives, and also help identify potential evangelists you can use to expand collaboration.

Profit: Should companies have a Chief Collaboration Officer?

Morgan: Of all the companies I’ve talked to, only one company actually has a Chief Collaboration Officer. At others organizations, collaboration is driven by anybody from the CEO to the CIO to people in HR or Communications. I don’t think there’s a one size fits all approach from all companies.

However, one of the top factors for success of Enterprise 2.0 collaboration is looking for senior-level leadership support. If you have a lot of great stuff coming form the bottom up, but senior level management isn’t using the tools or getting behind them, it’s going to be very hard for these initiatives to succeed and sustain.

Profit: How do managers get their employees to use these tools?

Morgan: There are a couple things. Integrating tools into the flow of work is very crucial. A big problem with many organizations today is that they have many systems, user names, and passwords. It gets very frustrating for employees when managers go to them and say, “By the way here’s another user platform.” It’s a lot easier and more efficient if you have a central collaboration platform that is the front door to the enterprise, and they can access everything else from there. And you want to make sure that the platform is intuitive and easy to use.

Playfulness is a very important factor and it’s something that we don’t think about very often when we think about enterprise software. You need to have a fun and engaging and interesting component so using the tool doesn’t feel like boring work.

Also, managers need to focus on how individual employees will benefit, not just the company. If managers tell there employees, “We are going to deploy something new that’s going to make it easier to get your work done, find information, get help, and grow,” all of the sudden, it is much more attractive to them.

One of the benefits of these tools, strategies and platforms is they make it easier for employees to get their work done because they don’t have to do tedious tasks, like search for information. Also, they can have a more flexible work environment, because they can access a lot of information and content and people from home. Collaboration can help employees become more engaged, fulfilled and passionate about their work, less stressed, and have better work/ life balance.

Profit: What are you excited about on the horizon?

Morgan: On the technology side, we’re starting to see a lot these big enterprises getting much more involved in the game. And it’s going to get challenging for a lot of the smaller niche players; perhaps they are going to have start focusing on smaller and medium-sized businesses.

On the business side, a huge trend is mobility and the ability to bring your own device to work. Another big thing is the “consumer-ization” of IT, as companies take ideas from the consumer space and apply them to the IT side. Also, we’re starting to see gamification. This means applying game mechanics to the enterprise, like rewarding and empowering employees for their individual contributions using badges and points.

Additionally, I think business leaders and IT leaders are going to start work together more closely. Organizations are really going to pay attention to strategy and corporate culture before picking tools and technologies. When collaboration was starting off, we saw a lot of rogue deployments without the involvement of IT. The ideal scenario is to bring IT into the conversation from the early stages, so business leaders and the IT professionals can work together to figure out what makes sense for the company.


Jacob Morgan blogs about social business and bringing collaboration to the enterprise at http://www.socialbusinessadvisor.com.