We have talked with Tobias Mitter, Social Workplace Consultant at netmedia in Germany, about project challenges, his suggestions and also his expectations for the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Paris next year.
netmedia develops strategies so that companies can benefit from the shift to the social workplace. The award-winning best-practice approach („Social Workplace Methodology“, „Adoption Framework“) covers all necessary aspects of planning and implementing social software within the enterprise. Clients include Panasonic, Deutsche Telekom and RTL Group.
Tobias, how do you evaluate the status-quo on the introduction and establishment of social initiatives in the workplace?
The playing field for internal social media is divided into two groups: The first and larger group is still struggling to map the benefits of social in the workplace on their day-to-day business, therefore they lack the need for action. Vendors and evangelists failed to show how social can contribute to business needs like growth initiatives, cost-cutting or talent management. We will see more in this space 2014.
The second and smaller yet louder group is already running social initiatives on a mature technical level (think integrated platforms like a social intranet or an enterprise social network platform). Many of them experience a low or even declining adoption of business users. Companies need to remedy ineffective change management, the lack of management engagement and quixotic use cases which fail to show any business value to the senior management.
What are the biggest challenges the projects are facing at the moment?
This varies with the company. Common challenges are:
- Business alignment and use cases rely on idealistic assumptions. This needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
- No clear path and management guidance to behavioral change: Social is often just an additional, recommended tool. Therefore many users stick with email, project file shares or detached departmental wikis for personal convenience.
- C-level support: Many initiatives are lucky to have supportive leaders. Unfortunately it is not enough to have them point to the social initiative every few months. C-level needs to lead the way to make behavioral change happen. Remember: Social initiatives are often about becoming more agile, more innovative, more collaborative. People need to be able to draw inspiration from their leaders to embrace this change.
I advise any reader who ticked off all points above to double-check their adoption metrics. How many employees have business-relevant interaction-/click-paths? What’s your activity-to-logged-in user ratio? Too many companies rely on vendor-figures like active users which fall short on showing real adoption and business value.
What are your suggestions / recommendations to advance the projects?
Again this depends on the company and the surrounding conditions of their social initiative. A company with an aggressive growth strategy obviously differs from a company running a significant portfolio reorganisation. Yet here is some general advice I would like to share.
- Double-check your initiative’s business alignment and use cases with business users who are not part of inner project circle. Handle negative feedback on ideas appropriately. It often points to areas of your initiative where better explanation or a link to existing incentives is needed. In some cases behavioral change might need more pressure by the management as well. Do not forget to analyse the hidden personal motives (e. g. career path, personal situation) of business users as well as inter-cultural aspects of social.
- Give users crystal-clear guidelines which tasks will be moved to social and will not be done with X (email, file shares, detached wiki etc.) anymore. It takes stamina to achieve a real change and for social network effects to show value. Assign resources for identifying success stories and a permanent communication stream within the company (don’t forget to leverage traditional channels like paper and corporate tv).
- Help your C-Level to incorporate social in their regular business. It often makes sense to start with simple things like moving emails being sent out to the social platform and take concepts like interaction, expert search, recognition from there.
It can be a lot to think of and we cannot cover everything in our interview. There are some good frameworks out there like the Adoption Framework which we apply in customer projects. I advise anyone interested in advancing their social initiatives to leverage structured approaches like this.
How can the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT 2014 contribute to the progress of this evolution?
Many events focus on the technical news and challenges of social projects. The Enterprise 2.0 Summit has proven to be a great place for conversations with real users and experts on how to solve the business issues after IT is all-clear. I would not miss the chance to take a peek behind the scenes of other company’s social initiatives and challenge success stories of vendors and experts.
Social initiatives need engaging technology, excited people and sound organizational value to be successful. The E2.0 SUMMIT 2014 can be the place where all three aspects come together.
Further information: .
Thank you Tobias for answering these questions and we are really looking forward to see you in Paris!
(Header Image: Pixabay.com)