Apr 25, 2011

Facilitating the Design of the Social Workplace

There are lots of Social technologies and tools that can be implemented within the corporate firewalls (disclaimer: I work with one such firm) And yes, most of them are freemium, that is, you can use most of them with limited functionality for a small number of users. For example, for companies with less than 26 people can use Qontext free. However, for integrations with business apps and for 26 or more users you have to pay for it.

However, thinking that you can use a tool off the shelf, however intuitive and feature rich it is, would result in lots of employees sharing and connecting with each other might not be true.

Building a social business is NOT about the tool.

Unless there is a method to it, linked to business objectives, a social intranet or a social collaboration tool may or may not be seen as a "good investment"

So while the tools are similar to external consumer tools like Blogging, Wikis, Twitter and Facebook, the difference in contexts would impact the usage of the tools.

So the first question the organization that implements it should ask itself is "Why are we doing it? What are we trying to achieve with it?"

The answers can be many.
From "We want our employees to feel engaged"
to "We want information shared so that we save time and reduce costs"
to "We want to understand what our employees feel about certain issues and hear what they have to say"
to "We want people to collaborate both within the firewall and with external partners, so that knowledge and information doesn't get locked into emails"

Once the objective is clear, an assessment needs to be done as to what the current status is - and what the tool can address, and what needs to be changed in the structure and processes to meet the objectives. (At Qontext we have tools like questionnaires that make the assessment process easy)

Post the assessment, roles are allocated (like which senior management team members would be involved, what is the cross functional team in charge of the deployment, who will be the community administrator and who is the community manager) and the tactical steps before the implementation is finalised.

Implementation needs an active facilitation of the community, which my friend Luis Suarez covered in two posts comprehensively, here and here.

Interestingly, at Qontext we have a team that helps takes clients through all these steps - so its not just about the tools !

Interested? Reach out to me.