Social Business platform: evaluation checklist
Business is on a change mode. We are in a Social Economy today and the Hobson’s choice for Enterprises is to Evolve or to Extinct.Social Business could be a change engine and could directly contribute into the top and bottom-line of any organization. According to Mckinsey, USD 1.3 trillion of annual value could be unlocked using social business. It could radically improve strategic alignment, innovation & productivity in any enterprise. It could enhance collaboration, communications & knowledge sharing, align Employees to organization culture, enable crowdsourcing of content & ideas, make Q&A faster, locating experts/ mavens easier, reduce service / support costs, grow brand advocacy etc. Benefits are many so no wonder social is top priority for the CXO bracket across all businesses.
While there are evangelists who are gung-ho driving Social Business as a ‘transformation Engine’ and they have many success stories to show case too, many are still apprehensive - how successful the social initiative would actually be? Whether it would really add some value to the business at all? Gartner estimates that 80% of social business efforts will not achieve the intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an over-emphasis on technology. The choice of product could make or mar your social business initiatives. A good Social Business platform could make the journey to being Social a lot more easy. Selection of a suitable Social Business platform could often be a daunting task for organizations. What all should be considered and evaluated in a social business product? List is long and confusing too. Following are the 10 key check-points to assess if a social business product is right for you.Any good Social Business product should have/ enable/ provide (may be through other partners) following features.
Real collaboration to get work done.
Ask your vendor whether his social product has an integrated communication system for seamless collaboration. All types of communication viz. chat, text, voice, video etc should be available right from the ‘news feeds’ of the platform. If a user sees an update and needs to connect with others over any of the channels, he should be able to, without him necessary to switch to additional resources like his company PBX or mobile phone. The users should ideally have an ‘Omnichannel’ experience when they use the social platform. Social’s purpose is to get ‘work done’ and not just to provide another siloed communication channel which people hardly ever use. Remember it’s all about speed, ease and convenience for getting work done. If that’s not happening…It’s not done. Most of the ESN fail because they are just vanilla products where people could just update status and not get any real work done.
Task Management and proper tracking of work.
Business is all about different people doing their assigned tasks- efficiently & timely. Productivity at work is not possible if there is no delegation of authority and proper tracking of tasks assigned. Often reason of failure at the workplace could be attributed to 'Stakeholders' disengagement' so a Social Business platform should foster teamwork. It should also reduce the email traffic within the organization; lower down number of meetings held and off course the quantum of phone calls. A collaboration platform should help people work on a project efficiently without any time or cost overruns.
Integration with existing business systems workflow.
Today workplace is a farrago/ confused mixture of business software and applications. ESN could be the secret sauce to bind all these apps to get the desired outcome. Success of an ESN would depend a lot on how integral it is to the everyday works of the employees. A major reason for ESN failure is that it too just like other applications has become a silo within the enterprise. Using it just as a separate channel for communication won’t add much value. People use systems like ERP, CRM etc for their daily work done. ESN should gel well with the workflow to provide a seamless experience to the employees to work, perform and be productive. Using ESN an employee should be able to solve his real pain points. For instance reduce turn-around-time (TAT) in case of an insurance employee, reduce call-handle-time (CHT) in case of a call center employee, increased ARPU (Average revenue per unit) in case of a telecom sales employee etc. ESN is where real work should get done.
Content Collaboration, Governance/ EFSS (Enterprise File Sync & Sharing)
Today 50% employees of an enterprise are overwhelmed by content. 70% companies suspect their employees use unsanctioned file sharing methods. With the Consumerization of IT and BYOD becoming common at the work place, content sharing with security and compliance is a major challenge. Most of the companies today are haunted by the ‘Dropbox’ problem. Unsanctioned devices and cloud services often put the enterprises at risk. A successful social strategy isn’t complete without a safe & secure content collaboration strategy in place. How people would share documents securely in a social environment without using unwarranted storage system is an important question to be answered. Further issues like how to ensure synchronization of content so that there is ‘single version of truth’ for all the users is critical.
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is changing the dynamics at the workplace. Especially the GenY/ Millennials who use Smartphones & Tablets at work want a more flexible & freelancing work environment. The Social platform too should be mobility enabled. It should be accessible across different mobile platforms like Android, Blackberry, Microsoft Embedded, Windows phone etc. and should support features like Mobile Content Management so that creation & upload of content built in HTML5 for customers, sales & marketing people is possible. It should enable integration facilities so that activities like syncing contacts, managing leads & campaigns etc could be done on mobile.
Communities Management is key to social success. Communities both internal & external contribute greatly into better engagement. More than a technology or platform, a Social Community is about people. There could be technology worth millions but if people are not engaging, the social communities are bound to become virtual ghost towns. The platform should enable advocacy to empower communities
What can’t be measured could be easily missed. Social Platform should provide analytics/ Data Visualizations for the managers and other stake holders measure social success. Each community should be measured based on KPIs based on Social best practices and key metrics. Use analytics, dashboards and data visualizations to have insights about how the community is fairing, where it lacks and what needs to be done.
Building a Social platform is not enough.There should be special efforts to enhance ‘loyalty’ to increase employee productivity, customer retention & partner engagement. A good social platform should have features like gamification. Gamification is about using game elements & techniques for better engagement. It could help to motivate participation, engagement, and loyalty. It’s not just about the platform, technology, badges or leader-boards but it’s the secret sauce for overall organizational success through better participation of the stakeholders in the key business processes. A good Social Business Platform should support game mechanics and gaming solutions to enhance engagement loyalty.
Innovation is the life blood of an enterprise’s growth. One of the key purposes of the ESN is to enable ideation & innovation. Remember, innovation is a continual process NOT an event. The ESN is expected to bridge the gap of gathering employees, partner’s and customer’s ideas for organizations success, growth and competitive advantage. It should help actively capture, share, and rate new ideas for actionable innovation and measurable business outcomes. It should foster collaborative thinking and help in metrics driven evaluation of ideas. Digital suggestion boxes cannot rightly fulfill the innovation needs.
Onboarding and Learning
People are the most important asset of any organization. IDC estimates that the average worker spends up to 35% of their time just looking for information. Traditional Learning systems & Onboarding methods don't work any more. New hires & employees are often bombarded with many ‘PowerPoint slides’ continuously which only creates more confusion. Today all industries are facing the problems of employee churn, poor employee engagement and Onboarding. Use of Social Business in people management could radically improve the HR processes.
It’s the Law of Inertia that people naturally resist change. Social Business is not just about a technology or platform- it demands change of culture within an organization. It will happen only when individual goals are aligned with the larger objective of the organization. Are we ready for the big rewards that Social Business assures for business?
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