The path to becoming a social business, one which has a more engaged workforce, customer-base and supply chain, is one which ultimately leads to greater business success. What components, however, do you need to consider putting in place from a strategic standpoint?
My graphic below attempts to put each of the components I feel any organisation should consider implementing or integrating into their social collaboration environment.
The blue cans at the bottom of the arrow are the silos of information your organisation already has in one shape or form.
Working from right to left, the tacit knowledge of your employees is the one you definitely have. By tacit I mean the things they know about your organisation, your customers, how to do things, what works, what doesn’t, the intelligence the have about product pricing, service delivery and so on. If you could somehow capture that information, i.e. know what you know then the collective intelligence of your company would explode exponentially.
However, just asking people to tell you everything they know about your organisation is a strategy destined for failure from the outset. If I asked you to tell me everything you knew, how could you possibly do so. You might start with some personal history of yourself, your family, your work but soon become tired. Most of what you might tell me might be irrelevant to my use. It might be “interesting data” but not “knowledge”.
Instead, if you and I had a conversation where I asked you questions and you answered then two things happen: 1) I get the information I need 2) You get the satisfaction of assisting. That endorphins-releasing satisfaction is addictive, and something you will want to repeat. Before I know it you willingly help me by giving advice freely, without being asked.
So it is in your organisation. By asking your experts questions and getting their answers into a medium which can easily be shared their tacit knowledge, i.e. things they just happen to know, are set free. Everyone gets to profit from them. The expert gets their endorphine-release satisfaction and the recognition of being a subject matter expert and everyone else can get on with doing their job just a little better. By turning this into a virtuous cycle so the collective intelligence of your organisation can be dramatically enhanced.
That knowledge in your experts’ heads is not of course the only source of intelligence. You will have spreadsheets, databases, HR systems, ERP systems and all sorts of other pools of electronic information. Most of these line of business applications don’t talk to each other. Often they have contradictory or sometimes complementary information about the same subject. Imagine being able to connect these different pots of information when you needed it so that when you’re trying to find out about that new customer you’re trying to win you have as much information as possible to help you succeed.
Many organisations are “socializing” their business processes to build the tacit knowledge capture into these systems. For example, take a look at this integration of IBM Connections and SugarCRM:
How could you engage your staff more by adding social technologies into your business processes? What might be the outcome?