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Why did my Enterprise Social implementation fail? - Part 2

According to Gartner, a successful social enterprise network is implemented 80% through organisational culture and 20% through technology.

Little change management

I recently spoke with a Programme manager of a large multinational bank, who was in charge of rolling out social collaboration to 120,000 users globally. They had a few teething issues, one of which came from users not understanding how to use it. Not that they didn’t know how to ‘like’ a comment, it’s about understanding how to use it at work. One user asked “is this official?”. What happened here is an example of rolling out the technology without managing the change in behaviour. Instead this change was expected.

What was missing here was communication of purpose and vision, and support for the transformation.

Remember, this technology isn’t just potentially changing task processes, its changing how people interact with one another and more importantly, how we have worked throughout our entire careers. This is a work culture change that must be managed effectively, leaving little ambiguity.

As Carol Rozwell, Vice President from Gartner explains, “traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, followed a “push” paradigm. Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a “pull” approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can’t be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in.” [1]

Communicate the purpose, vision and benefits of the change. Support the transformation through clearly identifying roles (i.e. community managers, topic SME’s, team leaders, etc.), role based training on how to use the tools within processes, and most importantly, re-evaluate. If something isn’t working, change what you are doing.

Enterprise social analytics will assist you with monitoring if your change management activities are effective.

We run enterprise social like a project, not a product

What do I mean by this? Let me explain…

We engage software vendors, write the functional requirements, produce an RFP, kick off the project, consult with a few business areas, build, test and finally, we go live. Usually what happens next is that we move onto the next project. The problem with this is that the enterprise social implementation is run like a project. Once we flick the switch, we go live, the project ends. What happens next?

Enterprise social is unlike any other software implementation. The technology implementation should only be a very small activity compared with ongoing adoption, use and extracting value. We must keep the momentum going. It’s not a set and forget.

Launching your enterprise social network, whether it be a pilot or organisation wide, is just the beginning. Keeping the momentum of activity going whilst continually applying feedback is really key here. Listen to your community managers, analyse behaviour and use, and continually realign activities that will support your goals. Make community management part of peoples roles and include KPIs to drive success.

No clear strategy

Many organisations have deployed enterprise social technologies without a strategy of what they want to achieve with this powerful set of tools. If there is no clear set of expected outcomes or what your organisation is trying to achieve, there will be no real measure of success.

Whilst increasing collaboration, communication and knowledge sharing are definite proven benefits of enterprise social, organisations need to be a little more specific. How else will you know when you have achieved success? As Gartner highlights, “When technologies related to engagement are deployed for ambiguous reasons, failure is likely to ensue.” [2]

Tip: Develop a few organisation goals that are specific and somewhat measurable. An example of this might be an increase in employee engagement and satisfaction scores in your annual survey, increasing staff retention by 15% over 12 months. Once these high level goals have been established, switch the focus to more departmental or team based goals.

In my next article, I will focus on the true value of enterprise social technologies followed by developing a business case for social collaboration, what you need to know to help create the appetite of social technologies

1.  Gartner Says 80 Percent of Social Business Efforts Will Not Achieve Intended Benefits Through 2015: http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2319215

2. Gartner: Predicts 2014: Consumerization Impacts Enterprises’ Social and Collaboration Strategies 249498

2. Gartner: Agenda Overview for Social Agenda Overview for Social Software and Collaboration 254692

Posted by: Peter Cooke, Team Leader, Portals & Productivity Solutions Office365 | 09 April 2015


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