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Employees have been using social collaboration technologies for more than a decade, but it’s only recently that social software has been used to drive real business results within an organization.  This important transition is a result of three key changes:

  • The transition from separate social collaboration environments to collaboration where employees are working.
  • The movement away from generic social capabilities to applying social capabilities to solve specific business problems.
  • The emergence of social platforms versus siloed social solutions.

 

Lisa Rowan, Program Director of HR, Learning, and Talent Management Strategies at analyst firm, IDC, confirms this transformation in her recent report “IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Social Technology in Integrated Talent Management 2012 Vendor Analysis.”  This report, the first of its kind, highlights vendors who are successfully incorporating social technologies directly into HR processes and applications.  Lisa discusses several examples of how HR processes can be streamlined – social learning being one example.  By marrying formal training from learning management systems (LMS) with social and collaborative capabilities, companies can offer informal ways to capture and share key information, reducing the overall cost of creating and delivering training, as well as shortening the time to productivity for a new employee.

For example, in the past, a newly hired sales representative would learn about the company, its products, competitors, and priorities via scheduled meetings, hallway conversations, and formal training, and possibly an internal collaboration system where they could ask questions.  While this might cover many bases, it’s the informal conversations that provided the additional business context needed for sales people to be successful.  Social learning enables any person in the organization to discuss, share documents, or even record video on the fly.  With this, product managers can share the latest competitive positioning, customer service can highlight how to solve top issues, or sales operations can provide quick insights into how to process orders.  Using the collective wisdom of the organization exposes a wealth of information to help these new sales representatives to become productive faster, thus enabling greater revenues, shorter sales cycles, and happier customers.

There are many other examples of how companies can take advantage of social and collaborative capabilities in their HR business processes.  With social applications, the ability to capture and analyze the work history of employees makes it easy to give praise to top performers. According to Mark Smith from Ventana Research, social collaboration helps companies recognize employees’ achievements and promotions, and some organizations already give employees promotions based on their social engagement. Rewarded employees are persuaded to remain loyal to their company. At the same time, other employees will be aware that hard work is recognized and be influenced to perform at the top of their ability.  Social software also enables employees to locate experts in their organization, connect better with colleagues, and leverage knowledge that employees have shared, even after they have departed from the company.

With the need to tie together an employee’s actions, information, discussions, and work across many processes and applications, these social capabilities can’t be limited to a single application, but instead require a comprehensive social ‘fabric’ that weaves through every place an employee works – HR processes, sales processes, operations, etc.  This social foundation enables a seamless and aggregated experience for a business person while they work with other employees, customers, partners, vendors, or suppliers, allowing them to avoid unnecessary interruptions and providing them with value that motivates them to adopt and continue using social technologies.  For IT, it reduces rogue social applications and reduces total cost of ownership in maintaining only one social foundation across the company.

Adoption of social applications has been an issue in the past due to the limited ability to deliver results, but by including social where people work to solve real business problems across a social foundation provides the much-needed results to drive adoption. How is your organization using social today?

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