Over the next ten years, we’ll see (and help build) an interactive layer built on an amalgam of our personal motives.
Archives For Edge Organization
In a network economy, major competitive advantage is gained by having a strong developer ecosystem. The more software that’s written for a product, the better the product becomes. Generally. The vast iPhone App Store catalog sets the phone apart from it’s competition. The phone is a slick piece of hardware, but if it had the Jitterbug’s app catalog I don’t think it would sell as well. Why not use the same model in the enterprise?
You’re standing up your workforce collaboration platform, which is a good thing. But, much like your cell phone, your collaboration platform becomes superior the more applications integrate with it. (Your goal is to make everything social, right? ) Why not set up a framework for developers (assumption: your company has software developers with spare time) to build apps and integrations for your collab platform? Surely, your team doesn’t have the bandwidth to tackle that amount of work in a reasonable amount of time. Instead of having them catch all the fish, why not let them teach others how. It scales better.
A couple of benefits I see here:
- As you increase the number of systems integrated with your collaboration platform customers (your employees, in this case) will be able to customize their working environment: personal portals/dashboards aggregating tasks, tools, processes, training, policies all in one place. The promise of these collaboration platforms is that they can do this kind of aggregation, but the reality is that you already have systems that manage many of these things separately and are not ready to get rid of them. And, to some degree, why should you? Some of these systems are good at what they do but would be given a big boost if they were made social.
- Increased user adoption of your workforce collaboration platform (because of #1)
- Software engineers like this idea (at least the ones I’ve talked to). They not only get a chance to spend more time in their cube, but they get to showcase their ‘gold nuggets,’ as one developer put it to me. I think the technical term is egoboo. Not sure if you have the concept of reputation management in your collab system, but this could certainly play into that.
- You could possibly crowd-source and prioritize the apps/integrations to be built. This would help fuel the adoption of #2 and would get the engineers in #3 fired up if they knew they were coding a solution that other employees want.
- It’ll get the good, reusable artifacts out from under that one-off CMS you’ve got. The more systems you can make social, the more value they provide. See #1.
- Distribute the scope creep. From what I’ve experienced, it’s easy to get pulled in lots of different directions. So many customers (again, employees in this case) are eager for social & aggregation capabilities that you end up with scope creep (read: proliferation). Not only could you distribute the creep, but you could increase speed to market and customer satisfaction. It’s really like you’re expanding your project team.
Integration into other systems is a must when it comes to workforce collaboration. If you’ve got the right kind of business, the internal AppStore makes a lot of sense. The combination of potentially crowd-sourcing and prioritizing development could take your workforce collaboration software to the next level.
So you’ve been tasked with bringing social media tools into your company and transforming the way it does business. That’s a big task; but the boss thinks it’s time…he thinks it might be good for business and anyway all the new hires are demanding it. So you start socializing the idea and you begin to realize it’s not just the new hires. HR, Finance, Biz Dev, Engineering, IT, oh my. Everyone is talking about it. Innovation, collaboration, expertise location; we’re on our way now. And you’re the one who’s going to give the masses what they want. You’re the man! You do a little research, make a few calls to vendors, maybe even a consultant. What? They want to take you out to dinner? That was easy. And they’re going to let you pilot their software? They’re flying down tomorrow!? You start thinking you’re pretty hot shit. Well, slow down, because you could wind up in way over your head if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Things can move pretty fast if you’re not ready. That proof-of-concept (that you were only going to let 25 users in on) becomes a pilot (we’ll keep it to 500) becomes production (how many licenses do we have to buy?!) in the blink of an eye. And you might not even realize it. Employees are dying for their company gives them ‘Facebook for the enterprise.’ You give them something, ANYTHING, that resembles a status update and I dare you to tell them, ‘that was only a proof-of-concept, it didn’t meet our requirements. We have to go back to the drawing board.’
Good luck with that.
My advice to you is do your homework. Know the vendor space, know your architecture, know your security model, know your requirements. Most importantly: know your business and how this new tool set will help you solve your BUSINESS problems. (And, by the way, only you know what your business problems are). Do all of this before even approaching a vendor. Get a sponsor from your BUSINESS. HR is not OK. Comms, eh, you’re getting warmer. IT…COLD. Get at the heart of what your company does and find out who does it. Once you find them, they will tell you everything they need. If you can make them happy and solve their problems you greatly increase your odds of success.
If you’re reading this post, time to market for your social initiatives is the least of your problems. Don’t be pressured into making a move before you’re ready. This (r)evolution is going to bring about a major shift in the way companies work and it is not a fad. You are not going to miss out on the benefits if you decide to take an extra month or two or three to get it right. Measure twice, cut once.