Enterprise 2.0: part 5 – People. Plan. Platform.

René van den Bos

DigiRedo

Continued from “Enterprise 2.0: part 4 – how do we start?

In the previous episode we talked about how to with Enterprise 2.0 in your company. We’ve done an internal analysis of the organisation through the 7I network model, and we’ve found a strategic fit for the pilot ‘social business’ project. What next?

Next is the target audience, the master plan and the technology: People. Plan. Platform.

People

Before you start, you need to know all people that are involved in the project, no matter how small. The people that use it, the people that manage it, the people that maintain it and the people that pay for it.

People that use it

This is an essential group. Who are they? What are their goals and responsibilities? What is their attitude towards online collaboration and social media? Are they aware of the power of new and social media? How large and diverse is this group? What is their common goal? The latter is very important to identify. In open and public communities people join these from a personal interest. Business communities are less voluntarily and therefore have more constant population. Identifying a common goal is imperative for success.

“Before you start, you need to know all people that are involved in the project, no matter how small.”

People that manage it

Before you start building your collaboration platform, you need to create the resources to manage it. And that is the community manager (and his team). The community manager has a large variety of tasks:

• facilitator and stimulator of the community: the CM motivates people in participation, organises training, active in acceptation and promotion of the community

• content creator: identifies topics, moderates and participates in discussions, and leads by example.

• community developer: statistical analysis, improvement of the platform, up-to-date with technological developments

• business alignment: develops guidelines, connection with the business strategy

From the above it’s clear that the CM needs to be a multi-talent, with the following competencies:

• Networker and bridge-builder

• Communicative skills

• Leadership

• Web 2.0 enthusiast and evangelist

• Politically sensitive

• Passionate

That’s a lot of skills in one person. And if that’s hard to find, finding experienced CM’s is even harder, since it’s such a young and new profession. All together, referring to Dion Hinchcliffe, the CM is a ‘Jack of all trades’.

People that maintain it

No matter where you build and host you system, whether that’s within your own company firewall or completely in the cloud, in one way or another your IT department will get involved. And although that was surprising for me in the beginning, that’s not an easy bridge to take. You can’t blame them. For decades, IT has been in the driver’s seat when it came to digital technology. And all of a sudden, new systems and platforms arise, digital tools emerge and anyone can use them. The consumerization of technology. And, as said, no matter where you are in your development, IT will get involved somewhere along the line. Then it is better to get them involved from the start.

People that pay for it

Also higher management needs to get involved. They need to be aware of the philosophy of Enterprise 2.0. But for that, they need to understand what the dynamics are of open, transparent and authentic collaboration. How to deal with feedback, and act on that feedback. That it is nothing to be afraid of, but that it can (and will) lead to a better performing organisation, with better motivated people, more loyal employees.

Plan

You can’t do without a good plan, a strategy. We developed a model that is not only helping you in the development phase of your community, but also helps you in managing, monitoring and evaluating it. We call it the LIPTALC method and consists of three different phases.

Phase 1: Learn it

This is the phase where you analyse your organisation. Where are you now, what is your current situation, who are you as an organisation. You learn to know yourself. The outcome of this phase tells you if your organisation is ready for an Enterprise 2.0 pilot, the first go-no go decision.

Phase 2: Invent it, Plan it, Try it

In this second phase you’ll find the strategic fit, search for common goals and you’ll set your objectives, define your strategy and make a budget. Based on this plan, and on the type of organisation you are, you’ll decide which technological platform fits best.You present the outcome to the decision makers for their buy-in. Then you’re ready for the first test: a low profile pilot, which leads, once finalised, to your second go-no go decision. Continue or not?

“…it is extremely important to define where the community fits within the business strategy and what the common goal is in relation to the culture and identity of the organisation.”

Phase 3: Adapt it, Launch it, Check it

Phase three is a recurrent phase. Based on the experiences gained in the pilot, you’ll adapt and fine-tune the platform. In parallel, a brand and marketing campaign for your platform is developed and with both offline and online activities you’ll launch the online community. And that’s the moment where the real work starts. With all lights on green and all systems go, the potential for the community, as confirmed in the previous phase, now needs to proof itself. And that’s the moment where the community manager can proof his or her quality. Frequently, the effects of the community are checked. What’s the performance of the community, what’s the Return on Efforts and (dare I say it) Return on Investment? If evaluation leads to continuation of the community, phase three starts again.

Platform

In phase two you are able to decide what technological platform fits best your business community. Although that sounds easy, it can be a tough decision. With the rise of social computing the number of products and platforms has grown significantly. Multifunctional platforms like Jive, Spigit and Socialtext versus smaller products, more focussing on one or a few functionalities such as Yammer. Although he number of vendors is rising, none of the offered platform and products offer a complete all-purpose package. Therefore it is extremely important to define where the community fits within the business strategy and what the common goal is in relation to the culture and identity of the organisation. If innovation is the main goal, you may choose for a platform that facilitates idea generation like Spigit, but if the collaborative demand is more for project-management you may choose for TeamLab.

No matter what your choice of technology is going to be, the success of the platform depends on a few Critical Success Factors:

• User-friendliness

The success of the platform is depending on how easy it is to use the system. It should be intuitive, straightforward and simple. Platforms that require significant training will not be intensively used by a large group of people. Also visual design is of influence on the use of it. A fresh and modern look-and-feel will stimulate use and enhance the experience.

• Relevance

Participating in the community should be relevant to the daily activities of each employee. If there is no clear relation with the responsibilities of the worker, motivation for using it will be low.

• E-factor (Engagement factor)

In addition to relevance, participating in the community should also be fun. Without the E-factor, there will be no dedication to the community. The exchange of personal experiences, not related is the social binding factor of the community. Next to the work related information sub communities arise around social events like sports, hobbies and other human interest subjects.

• Efficiency

Participating in the community must lead to better performance and higher efficiency of the employee. In the beginning many people will struggle getting it into their everyday routine and for many it will require time before they reach the comfort level where the benefits of the community will be reflected in their work efficiency.

Enterprise 2.0 is not a hype, it is a trend. But not for long anymore. Soon, in just a few years, enterprise 2.0 will become mainstream. Companies that offer online social collaboration are more capable of attracting and retaining talent, will be able secure knowledge, will perform better and will have more satisfied and better motivated people.

Any company that is not seriously investigating the possibilities of social computing within their organisation is hitting the break on its success. Be sure your company is not one of them…

About the author:

René van den Bos is a New Media Architect, specialized in Enterprise 2.0, a video-producer and co-founder of DigiRedo. René is a trained veterinarian with experience in private practice and the pharmaceutical industry. With DigiRedo, René advises organizations how digital media, including new and social media, can improve communications, both internal and external. His philosophy is clear: listening, interaction, authenticity and an open mind for feedback are essential for effective communication.

René is an enthusiastic trainer and passionate speaker. He regularly speaks at conferences and corporate meetings. René is a blogger on his own blog at DigiRedo, but also on Marketingfacts, the leading online marketing blog in The Netherlands. René lives in Utrecht on a houseboat with Marcela and their son Felipe. You can follow him on Twitter.

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