You may find that colleagues, especailly senior colleagues are cautious over the implimentation of so-called community building or collaborative software. However, with the correct departmental governance and policing, and best practice of this area, community software can be utilised to its full benefit as a useful and integrated business tool.
Community building software can promote organic connections between colleagues. This will, as a by-product, act as a structured storage mechanism for unstructured corporate knowledge which otherwise would only be held between individuals in an un-retrievable unstructured manner.
These types of electronic storage mechanisms are used to great effect within industry leading technology companies such as IBM and Microsoft. Organically structured groups of colleagues are able to liaise from a single recordable point removing the obvious issues of geographical displacement. There is also an instant removal of cottage industries updating and managing phone lists, structure charts, etc. The community area can remove pressure from traditional means of business communication such as email.
Software such as Microsoft SharePoint MySite’s potential, for instance, can be realised if embedded within already established business processes. For the majority, people associate social networking with Internet based networks such as Facebook and MySpace; certainly at the opposite end of the spectrum and barely recognisable as productivity tools! The potential though to improve performance and cut costs is certainly possible should such an Intranet community be used productively and ring-fenced in a business setting.
The key to successfully utilising social media at work lies in comprehending it is very different in nature to its vaguely similar consumer cousins. With a different approach social networking can exploit the simple rationale pulling individuals into consumer resources: that of a simple purpose! Business social networking requires a defined business purpose with specific usage guidelines providing real leverage such as building teamwork, organisation around projects, and organically building a corporate knowledge base.
A community Wiki building a corporate knowledge base, for instance, categorising and built from what would otherwise be unobtainable unstructured data kept in varying hetrogeneous systems, paperwork, peoples heads, can be fashioned to store searchable data and information access to the entire organisation – of what would generally only be available to the few.
Historically, teamwork built through staff meetings, company team building workshops, team nights out, departmental parties, etc. are face-to-face interactions. The flip-side can be an electronically stored impressionistic sense of business activity formed around colleagues actively publishing activities around them. Largely self-organising and leaving a permanent organic record of communication around, say, a project otherwise not existing, can generate implicit awareness to colleague work groups.
Ultimately this can replace, but probably not in its entirety, traditional communication mediums such as the email list which lacks structure and is difficult to manage. An Intranet social network on the other hand provides many-to-many communication within a structured and collaborative environment.
First published on yaduk on Nov 16, 2009