Posted On January 23, 2017

Over the past decade, technology has had a considerable impact on the way we live, connect, share and communicate.

More than 1 billion of us have a Facebook account and mobile phones are ubiquitous. This makes us professional users of these technologies at home and anchored in our personal lives.

However, from a corporate perspective, the equation doesn’t seem to work as well as could be expected. Customers appear to have better technology knowledge than those trying to sell to them, and employees usually find better digital solutions at home than at the office.

The future belongs not just to the organisations that can do business in this space but also to the professionals learning how to use these connective technologies to drive outcomes – to spot opportunities, organise their resources and work on those opportunities.

In this sense, digital solutions are shifting our industries.

The spread of information, at a virus-like speed, has laid the foundations for the perfect innovation platform. Several social networks, Yammer, Jive and others, are engaged in the race to be the best social tool used for work purposes. Given most organisations have rising expectations and shrinking resources, these tools and technologies are vehicles for us to work more effectively.

Scott Ward, CEO of Digital Infusions and guest speaker at a recent MCI Solutions seminar, has tips on how to optimise the benefits of corporate social networks. Scott specialises in the use of social media to drive business outcomes such as:

  •  How to best use this potential for innovation
    •    How to develop and sustain a socially-connected enterprise
    •    How to drive digital transformation in the organisation

Why go social?

Recent Capgemini Consulting research has found there’s a direct correlation between digital intensity and increased revenue. Digital intensity is the investment in technology development to change how the company operates, and helps companies gain and manage more volume with existing physical capacity. In short, it found that a community or a company with a healthy functioning social media network will have between 20-25% increase in employee productivity.

Getting it right: How to optimise the potential of your new communication pathway

Scott says the first thing you have to do is make the social enterprise part of your corporate strategy.

“The adoption of new corporate social channels must go hand-in-hand with clear and measurable business outcomes. Otherwise, its impact will be close to none,” he says, adding, “unless it’s going to help drive a strategic advantage, it’s a distraction.”

Next, Scott says it’s important to define your outcome. “You don’t go digital for the sake of it, because you can waste a lot of money going nowhere,” he warns. “You do it because it aligns or is going to assist you to deliver on your strategic objectives as an organisation.”

In other words, what do you want out of this? That’s your starting point, and there are three different aspects that can help you set your objectives:

Inform. To create a pool for knowledge – distributing and collecting it using social channels.

“The average knowledge worker spends an average of two-and-a-half hours a day looking for information. A well-functioning social media network will give them about an hour of that back a day,” says Scott.

“An efficient corporate social channel can bring about a 30% increase in collaboration and faster access to knowledge.”

Innovate. Within the organisation, social can act as the marketplace of discussion.

In some organisations, ideas are shared on an intranet and then voted on. In others, a person posts an idea on the social platform and the innovation team rings her and says make sure you put it in the portal. This interaction, Scott says, creates a commercial advantage by leveraging the collective intelligence.

Once engaged by the hierarchy, ideas enter an exploit phase where subject matter experts can take them through to implementation according to the resources they’ve been given. The key functions of enterprise social channels are therefore to engage ideas, filter them and get them in front of the right people.

“For those of you looking to go from good to great, this is the process that you need to start developing,” Scott urges.

Execute. Getting things done using social networks and spreading best practices throughout the organisation.

“Find people doing a good job and tell their stories on work social channels,” says Scott. “Social’s not just about improving our existing work habits. It’s about developing new ones and building visibility and interactivity across key data sets.

“It’s a really effective tactic to start to align behaviours and enable decision making right at the grass roots,” he explains.

“You’ve probably got objectives across all three but one of them will be more important than the others – and that’s your starting point.”

Make it sustainable

Once you’ve done your homework and defined the outcomes you expect, Scott says the next question becomes how do you go about it? How do you make sure that social is successfully introduced, and that its adoption is sustainable?

This is where Scott’s BITIL framework comes in – Brokerage, Integration, Trust, Incentives and Leadership. The key elements in building a social strategy.

  •  Brokerage. This is about building connectivity between people through communication pathways.

Instead of having a don’t-talk-about-anything-off-topic in social approach, Scott emphasises the importance of allowing juniors, seniors and employees from different locations to share photos, comments, anecdotes, or experiences.

Scott quoted a group in a New South Wales Government organisation called Stuff my Kids Say. “What’s really cool is it’s just one-liners from four-year-olds or photos of them painting themselves like unicorns or whatever.”

  •  Integration. This refers to sewing technology as a tool into everyday life so that, as Scott explains, “people stumble into it and don’t have to go out of their way.”
  •  Trust. “The 90:9:1 rule in social says that 90% of people look on in silence and never post, 9% post but only in response to somebody else and 1% of people post original content,” Scott reveals.

“It turns out that posting to a social media community evokes the same fear as public speaking. There’s a tremendous emotional hurdle that people need to get over before they post. They feel very exposed.”

So the challenge becomes how do you persuade people from the 90 into the 9, and from the 9 into the 1? Answer: you have to build and environment of trust.

  •  Incentives. Making time to get into the platform requires motivation. People need incentives.

Here Scott refers the SAPS model (Status Access Power Stuff) which includes several types of incentives, from showing recognition for a bright idea (status) or having dinner with the CEO to share the idea (as an access to scarce resources).

  •  Leadership. Leaders have to contribute.

A lack of leadership turns communities into lifeless entities that rarely deliver value,’ says Scott. “Capgemini research shows that profitability is a function of leadership more so than going digital, so the first thing you have to do is get the executives on board.”

But how do you actually do that? “Go as high as you can, as quickly as you can,” Scott urges.

“Our message to them is that this won’t work without you, so if you’re interested, let us know and we’ll work with you. If you’re not, our advice is to take any money you’re going to spend on this and put it into the Christmas party because you’ll get a better outcome.”

As we all know, getting the nod from the CEO stifles all sorts of arguments. “All the naysayers at the very least will stay quiet,” says Scott.

“Senior executives care about increasing revenue, reducing costs or leaving a personal legacy. Show them social as being able to deliver on those three outcomes and they become very receptive. If you go in there selling collaboration they’re probably going to ask you to leave because collaboration is a way of working. It’s not an outcome and they’re all outcome focused,” he explains.

Make sure that all these five elements are addressed. Why? Because Scott has discovered that failures occur because one or more of them are neglected.

Socials: an asset for digital transformation

Companies are under huge pressure to go digital. “From my perspective, learning how to tap into the collective intelligence is crucial to spot the opportunities of digital transformation,” says Scott. “Social should be the engine.”

Scott described digital transformation as a three-step process:

  •  Create and build. Take a vision-led approach and build conversations that are going to reveal the intelligence important to us. “Innovation occurs when there is a discrepancy between where we are today and how things should be tomorrow,” Scott says.
  •  Engage and grow. Harness ideas and develop them with effective investment rules and coordination mechanisms. This is where governance and employee engagement are essential. They drive digital efforts in the right direction.
  •  Activate and monetise. Scott explains: “Build social as a capability. L&Ds occupy a major role in sharing the understanding between ITs and business executives. They make the link, which is critical to digital transformation success.

Which platform should you choose?

Scott has his favourites. “Yammer and Jive are my two preferences but Social Cast is very good, (but) whatever platform you go with, you need to make sure that it’s future-proofed,” he said.

Where to start

“Define the business objective behind adopting your enterprise social network, and get the executive on board,” Scott advises.

What’s next

“Optimise your social network and make it sustainable with the BITIL model, and get your people on board, he says. “Spot the opportunities of digital transformation and seize them.”

According to Scott, these are the keys to a successful, efficient and sustainable corporate social community, and that investing in your social network – and in your digital transformation – will increase your productivity all the way to the bottom line.

About Scott Ward

Scott Ward is the founder and CEO of Digital Infusions. He is a social business strategist specialising in the use of social media and gamification to drive business outcomes. His background includes roles working with Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Deloitte and he’s a founding industry member of the University of Sydney’s Digital Disruption Panel.
A frequent speaker on social media and gamification, Scott’s clients represent diverse industry groups such as education, mining, travel, real estate, legal and financial institutions.


© Digital Infusions 2016. Produced with permission.