Read the previous post in the series, 4 Keys to Successful Community Sites, or start from the beginning.
In Enterprise Social, the News Feed (also known as the activity stream or conversation thread) is where the action is. This free-flowing sequence of pure engagement provides the framework for making magic happen. How? Because it’s an always-on live stream of authentic consciousness that gets people sharing ideas, asking questions, and supporting each other in often surprising ways. No matter where individuals are, organizations can communicate better across the company, give everyone a voice regardless of title and enhance business agility. Here are four ways News Feeds prove they can transform the way business gets done.
- Engage every employee. Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Organizations are rife with hierarchies and silos – of people and information. Often, these boundaries serve to keep both in their places. When a young, un-minted employee has an idea, he might be reluctant to share, intimidated by the traditional chain of command. Likewise, valuable information is typically jammed in a hard drive or stuffed in that black hole of a file server. Ugh! File servers are the worst. Image courtesy of http://www.brandmysharepoint.de/
Imagine this. The VP of sales from a national retail coffee business posts that repeat sales are down and she’s looking for ideas. A barista in the San Francisco store sees the post and replies that in San Fran, customers love everything local. So why not create a campaign that capitalizes on that? Tell me more, the VP asks. The barista, who happens to be working her way through grad school, commits to putting her ideas on paper. Realizing she’s short on budget info, she posts a request for help and gets a copy of last quarter’s marketing budget from a resource who helps her interpret it. It’s just what she needs to bring her ideas to life. Her proposal complete, she’s invited to present to the team and blows them away. In short order, she lands a marketing gig. Now this may seem idealized, but as Enterprise Social capabilities smash through barriers, these kinds of scenarios are happening. Organizations are tapping into talent they didn’t know existed. And team members are making contributions and getting recognition beyond their pay grades.
- Accelerate teamwork and propel the work product. We all know that sending documents back and forth via email, holding meetings and tracking down others with phone calls is a less than optimal way to collaborate. Here’s another way News Feeds change the game and improve workflow. Let’s run with our example of coffee shops. The internal marketing team is creating a Coffee Table book to sell in the stores. Beth, a project lead posts to ask how the layouts are looking. Toni, a designer from an outside firm, replies that the layouts are coming along nicely and making the deadline looks good. Then Sam, who works for the photographer (also a contractor) chimes in to say he’s not sold on the cover photo. He’s concerned they may have to reshoot. Carla, a marketing PM not involved in the project, mentions that she has a stash of unused pics which might be useful and posts them. Beth finds that more than one would make a fantastic cover. Sam chooses a pic, then posts a mock-up of the cover. All of this goes down in less than a few hours! Consider the awesome value of this interaction. The deadline is secure. No additional funds are spent on a reshoot. The project is back on track.
- Spark innovation, uncover new ideas and stay a step ahead! Markets change quickly and organizations must respond and adapt just as fast. Getting out ahead of the change is even better. Those same entrenched barriers mentioned above work overtime to stall progress and hold back innovation. Image courtesy of https://about.yammer.com/business-benefits/business-agility/
Back at the coffee house, a new product team is pondering a name for the luscious bean they’ve uncovered in the forests of Bolivia. You know the drill. Simply ask and watch the suggestions roll in. Of course some of the ideas won’t be viable. That’s the case even when using the old, slow, send an email and wait to see what happens approach. But many will be viable, and some will even be spectacular. Crowdsourcing, enabled by Enterprise Social News Feeds, is an outstanding way to be inundated with opportunity. And often the answer comes lightning fast.
- Evolve, strengthen and unify the culture. Image courtesy of http://creativecorporateculture.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Creative-corporate-culture1.png
There’s a lot of talk these days about how culture in an organization can overcome strategy. Truth is, many established and successful companies are proving (to the dismay of leadership) that as business transforms, the cultural archetypes which thrived in 1990, or even 2000, are no longer effective. In fact, most are like albatrosses dangling about the collective corporate throat. And now, because employees are dispersed and not consistently housed in office settings, it’s even more difficult to evolve a culture into something that works today.The speed-of-light communication provided by News Feeds is helping organizations reshape cultures like never before. The best part is, this effort is no longer done inside the polished walls of HQ. It’s an iterative process that includes those who actually do the ground level work of building the culture. We, the employees. This only happens as perspectives, processes and systems are impacted by people, how they internalize values and ideals, and how those translate into day-to-day behaviors.
For the next post in this series coming in two weeks, we’ll turn our attention to Uncover. Align. Adapt. Refine…with Enterprise Social Analytics. But before you go, have a look at this enlightening Harvard Business Review post. Author, Michael Schrage states that while Enterprise Social is about “communication, coordination, collaboration and transparency;” it’s also about the “power of individuals and teams to reach within and across the enterprise to effect meaningful change.” And that’s pretty cool.
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Manager, Principal Architect – UX, Social, Search