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4 Roads to Success in Enterprise Social – SPR Social Series 3 of 8

Read the previous post in the series, 6 BIG don’ts on the road to Enterprise Social, or start from the beginning.

Now that you’re embarking on the Enterprise Social journey, you’ll need to nail down a starting point. Being selective is critical, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply target processes and functions you know could benefit from a more streamlined approach. Maybe sales cycles are long and complex. Or design and engineering seem bogged down. Wherever you land, hold on to these ideas. A) Executive commitment is a must! And there needs to be agreement on visible participation. B) User adoption is a crucial element of success. Create a worthy plan for getting and keeping participants engaged. C) Be willing to shift your approach based on learnings along the way.

  1. Sales is almost always a good place to start.

Sales people are busy, active, often aggressive workers who need access to far flung knowledge; whether internal or among partners and clients. Enterprise Social blasts past conventional barriers that slow things down. Imagine this: A top sales exec has a fantastic opportunity with a new client. But the proposal preparation is daunting. She needs information from R&D, Engineering and Customer Service. Her current method involves launching emails and phone calls (sometimes scavenging for who to contact) and then spending days, perhaps weeks, integrating the knowledge into a cohesive proposal.


Now picture a sales hub that surfaces all the information in one place. Living documents are at her fingertips. She can collaborate with authors in real time. A host of experts are engaged and can be reached instantly via ‘presence’. Customer Service methods are detailed and reps are available for spontaneous discussions. She can ask questions of peers on a community news feed and get answers and ideas back within minutes. An entire process that might have taken weeks, can be reduced to a few days.


  1. Human Resources has lot to say…and do.

Human Resources (or whatever your organization calls it) is a multifaceted discipline that’s paramount to the health of a business. These days, onboarding and training are often confined to ‘interactive’ websites. Except the interaction is usually between employees and grids of videos, or pages of dense text punctuated by pics; or worse yet, pages of dense text without pics. Let’s be honest, these sites are deadly boring. And the value of the (ahem) interaction is diminished by the relatively staid approach.

Add Enterprise Social capabilities and the landscape shifts. Onboarding and mundane HR tasks are brought to life by the reality of genuine interaction. With people. Consider this, while going through required onboarding tasks, you can instantly engage with other newbies to swap stories and gain perspective. Perhaps there’s a live event including many employees and a few experts who came to discuss a particular topic in real time, like healthcare elections, or the giving campaign. Maybe instructors are instantly available via presence or in activity streams to help you get through an online class or test. See where I’m going? Access to humans is what real interaction is about!

  1. In R&D or engineering, a small world is best!

The ability to engineer solutions and products that customers clamor for is no small feat. And as organizations grow into global entities with teams scattered around the world, this work becomes even more difficult. Connecting these big-brained individuals in intuitive ways can shrink design and development cycles drastically.

Let’s say a design team in California is about to wrap a long development and build phase. The product, created for US markets, is ready to launch. As it turns out, a team of engineers in Copenhagen just began white-boarding a similar product. The Danish market is different, so the products won’t be identical. But here’s where it gets good. The engineering teams are socially connected. That means the designers in Denmark have seamless access to the work done by the California teams. Danish and American engineers can easily collaborate real time on every aspect of the project. Often, teams like these don’t have a clue what the other is involved in. These silos of brilliance might as well be invisible. With Enterprise Social, product development time is slashed because the firm’s far flung expertise is truly shared across the organization.

Design Thought Cloud

  1. Go ahead and choose already!

I could suggest another target area for Enterprise Social. But I won’t. You get the idea. Swift access to information, colleagues and experts speeds business processes and outcomes. Period. So pick one already. And know that successful initiatives usually start with small teams tackling specific measurable problems.

Now, a few words about how to get (and keep) these teams engaged.

  1. Expose them to the tools pre-deployment. Consider scheduling a light-hearted training session with food and drinks to get them going. Say 3pm on a Thursday?
  2. Solicit insight from team members before rolling out the tools.
  3. Make a big splash of it. Create posters. Give away mugs and flash drives. Launch a campaign.
  4. Sell the value in advance. Maybe use timed email blasts to show the before pains and the awesome after’s.
  5. Gain not only executive sponsorship, but get full exec participation. They MUST lead by example.
  6. Check in early and often. How’s it going? What’s working? What isn’t?
  7. Listen, listen, and listen some more. Respond and adapt accordingly.

So what’s on deck until next time? Find a way to move closer to your goal of choosing an area or team to target. Sit down with a top salesperson and ask about pain points they regularly experience. Or troll the web for case studies to get your juices flowing. Another option, take a look at the interactive tool kit from Yammer, designed to help you begin your firm’s social journey. Whatever solution you ultimately choose to launch your social network, this toolkit from Yammer can help shape your direction.

And of course, come back in two weeks for my next post in the series, 5 ways to Show Up in your profile!

Questions and comments can be addressed directly to:

Melissa McElroy
User Experience & Social Collaboration Evangelist – Senior Manager
e. melissa.mcelroy@spr.com
LinkedIn http://linkedin.com/in/melissamcelroy