Imagine booting your computer one morning and being presented with the three to five core tasks you need to complete that day. You click on the first item, and everything you need (tools; the latest sales report from your business intelligence (BI) system; notifications regarding a new CRM opportunity; an expense report requiring approval; and input from colleagues, partners, and/or customers) appears in a single workspace, where you can easily synthesize the information and take the next appropriate action.
Contrast that to today’s siloed work approach with several open screens and applications and time wasted toggling back and forth between a CRM system, a BI system, a to-do list, email, documents, Web pages, a search engine, a chat window, a spreadsheet (or two), and some form of collaborative or social management tool. Your attention is fragmented and frequently interrupted as you switch between programs or pause to take a call, answer an email, or engage in a chat dialogue. With work performed in many places, it’s difficult to share work in process, collaborate with employees and external customers and partners, or drive projects to closure.
Social collaboration solutions hold the promise of solving this issue, but the majority only add to the siloed approach.
The Key to a Results-Driven Social Enterprise Strategy
Here are a few key requirements for delivering a real, results-driven social enterprise strategy that works across all types of users, applications, and business processes:
- Collaboration within context. In a recent report, IDC referred to “collaborative, process-centric computing” as a key requirement for productive collaboration. In this scenario, the collaborative environment is embedded within the application or business process employees already use. Conversely, the report goes on to say “as businesses have moved from being manufacturing based to being information based, tools for information work have not evolved to support this change.” So today, while information workers are adaptable, they still face the increasing challenges of locating information from multiple sources; cutting, pasting, and reformatting it; and collaborating through a number of channels to reach consensus and deliver a final product.
IDC estimated the amount of time wasted working in this type of fragmented environment, and the cost per worker, per year are notable, such as:
• People not finding the information they seek: $5,974
• Reformatting data from multiple sources: $5,974
• Publishing via multiple applications: $3,991
“An organization employing 1,000 knowledge workers loses nearly $6 million annually just in the time wasted by employees having to reformat information as they move among applications.” Selecting a social collaboration solution that doesn’t work within the context of a worker’s applications and business processes can’t deliver the value and return on investment companies need.
- Enterprise-relevant use cases and best practices. Over the past year, the opportunity to significantly impact employee productivity has created a lot of interest in social collaboration products, and companies big and small have launched a number of new social products. The challenge is finding a solution that truly addresses real work that people are doing in their organization versus providing with a generic toolset.
According to a blog post by industry analyst Ray Wang, the market for social enterprise use cases “has moved on beyond just marketing, service and support use cases” and quickly spread into public relations and marketing, sales, supply chain management, product lifecycle management, and finance, and other similar areas. The social enterprise market will continue to grow as greater experimentation and success occur, and as companies begin to “incorporate social into business models and track meaningful business metrics.”
Given the trend, Wang notes that people can expect “many pseudo research-based consulting firms and social media pundits to quickly shift gears as they try to enter the enterprise space. However, buyer beware—many will fail their clients because of a lack of understanding about complex business processes and the constraints of legacy IT.”
- A focus on decision making. Did you know that the average person makes more than 200 food-related decisions on a daily basis? Imagine how many more you make at work.
Recent Gartner research focused on distinguishing between pseudo social and collaborative tools and those that truly enable a social enterprise. One of the key factors they identified was collaborative decision making (CDM) capabilities; in other words, focusing collaboration around the specific act of decision making. This includes the ability to place relevant business intelligence in front of information workers, so they can make informed decisions.
According Gartner, “Decision making is such a fundamental activity to the success of any organization—regardless of whether it is for profit, not for profit or a government—that improving it is by far the No. 1 driver of BI [business intelligence] investment…. Emerging CDM platforms are helping to solve this perennial challenge by combining BI and other sources of information used for decision making with social networking and collaboration capabilities, and with decision support tools/algorithms and models, to help knowledge workers make and capture higher-quality decisions.”
While there are many additional considerations when selecting a solution, social collaborative solutions that lack these key requirements are doomed for failure. Information workers need ways to replace their fragmented workspaces and adjust their work environments to deliver greater productivity and personal success.