Are Social Practitioners and Evangelists Truly Different?

My friend, Alan Lepofsky, has always made this point, “Social people are different.  The rest of the world is not like us.” Ironically, Alan and I get into the most hair-splitting among our pro-social circle of friends, but I’ve come to understand he is absolutely right about this. “We” are a different breed.  The online spirit of generosity, kindness, sharing, transparency, a first-instinct of collaboration is unique to a small tribe that discovered and advocated for social technologies in the enterprise. When we try to introduce these tools to our friends, our family, new clients, other colleagues, it falls flat.  It’s “2.0 adoption” all over again. It’s made me wonder if we truly are different. Are our brains wired differently?  I’d love to test this with a social scientist. My hypothesis is we have a “giving” gene.

My French friend, Cecil Dijoux, whom I’ve come to know via the social web apparently sees the same phenomenon.  In this video, he refers to us as “Asbergers” which he picked up from the Silicon Valley HBO series where it was meant to be “weird.” Of course, Asberger’s is a serious condition on the Autism spectrum, but I grok the sentiment. “We recognize each other by the way we think and talk.”

It’s unusual to want to change the world, or to pursue a purpose with passion at work. It’s counter-intuitive to behave in a way that benefits a group vs. our own self-interest (exclusively).

I’ve always believed there were more of “us” than “them” if only we could get the message out to the rest of the world about the freedom and joys of working socially. Effectively, once you start working this way, it changes your worldview. You become more empathetic, less self-serving. Lately, I’ve become cynical. I never thought I’d lose my faith in humanity to do the right thing, but as the years go by, the more I think I simply just want to connect to the other “giving gene” people.

If you know what I’m talking to about, let’s connect. We may not be able to change the rest of them, but if we add more nodes to our team, we will have meshed together our own social network of like-minded, giving people. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Social Business: Pining for the Fjords!

“I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it…  It’s dead!”

So, which is it dead or not dead?   There is so much confusion in the market about what “Social Business” is, it might as well be a dead parrot (too).  And there is no shortage of people who come at this conversation with a perspective that simply adds more confusion based on their orientation or specific economic agenda.

No one knows this struggle better than I.  I had lost the battle to preserve “Social Business” for its original owner, Muhammad Yunus, who by-the-way is trying to solve global poverty and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, sometime in 2009 in discussions with the social cognoscenti.  My former employer and friends at the Dachis Group had settled on repurposing Social Business to describe the evolving phenomenon, and after I was acquired, I too fell in line eventually rebranding the Council I had created for early adopters of Enterprise 2.0 to become “The Social Business Council.”*   I think the goal had always been to create a singular view for the market, and I supported the direction.  But, even as I was leaving Dachis Group in the summer of 2012, we took a pulse to see how many of the early adopters had fully integrated their internal social collaboration initiatives (collaboration and learning) with their external social media marketing initiatives (sales and marketing), and wished we hadn’t asked.  I knew the number would not be high, but I was literally shocked to see the response was nearly zero.  The actual number was 4%.   The number was so startling that when I presented it at a Jive user’s group meeting here in Texas, people were somewhat alarmed.  So, I repurposed the figure in the report to reflect how many people said they had plans to do it, but currently had not done it.

planets

The reality that surrounds this issue is we are really talking about two different planets that share the same language based on the principles of the early web 2.0 phenomenon and open web.  But, anyone who’s played in both these camps will readily acknowledge that a digital strategist or VP of Consumer Strategy has no idea what social collaboration is inside the enterprise and most likely spends his/her entire day in email, teleconferences, meetings, and ppt.  And, someone who’s running an internal enterprise social network has no idea who the top players are in SMMS (or what that acronym even means).  The problem is becoming somewhat unwieldy, however, because people who do not know better can easily confuse expertise in one area with the other.  Some of the senior enterprise folks in our network are facing career track issues with this right now.  Further, there’s now evidence of attempts at rationalization taking place, trying to shoe-horn the whole shebang into a singular phenomenon.  Nice try, and if it leads to changing the world, we’re for it.

One of our Change Agents, Richard Martin, pointed out that Nilofer Merchant side-stepped the issue quite neatly in her book 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era: “You might wonder why I’m not using Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) or social business (#socbiz) terminology. Enterprise 2.0 primarily focused on the tools necessary to create information flow, based on the idea that we can do better if we share information freely. Social business (#socbiz) was a term first created by Muhammed Yunus, but more recently has been a popular way to describe the way companies function and generate value for all the constituents (stakeholders, employees, customers, partners, suppliers)—the idea being that we add a social overlay to the existing structural framework. Here, I pose a new question with the notion of Social Era: in what ways can we structure things entirely differently to create more value in the context of our times, to be fast to market, to be fluid in mind-set, to be flexible in how we organize, deliver, and create value?”

She nails it in that “new” question.

We’ll be talking about some of those answers in an upcoming webinar we are doing next week in cooperation with our sponsor partner, Socialcast by VMware. The webinar will provide a reality check on where social is today, but more importantly, will talk about the underlying trends that are driving enterprise-sized businesses to become more network-based and adaptable.  You’ll have the pleasure of listening to thought leaders Simon Terry and Harold Jarche share their insights on why social matters now more than ever before.   Simon will explain how we got here, what the problem is in the market, and Harold will explain ways we can begin to address these problems today.  We’ll cover a few case studies and have lots of time to do Q&A with webinar participants, so please sign up and join us.  We look forward to your participation.

Webinar: Moving Forward with Social Collaboration
Date:  December 12, 2013
Time: 11:00 a.m. EST

 

This webinar kicks off a series of projects we’ll be doing with Socialcast to educate the market.   We have a lot more in store as we roll into 2014 too.  As always, thanks for your support for the great work we’re doing at Change Agents Worldwide.  You can support us by tweeting (@chagww and #caww) about us, liking us on Facebook, following on on G+, joining our public community on G+, and following our updates on LinkedIn.  Of course, don’t be shy about joining us as well.  Things are going to change in 2014 for new members, so if you’ve been considering joining, now would be a good time.

Last thing –  Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review are running a fairly good survey on trying to get to the bottom of some of these issues and to mitigate some confusion in the market.  I highly recommend you complete the questionnaire.   We’re also very excited about Change Agent Jane McConnell’s Digital Workplace results which will be out in early 2014, as well.

See you next Thursday!  And, as always, interested in your comments.

 

*Sadly, one thing is deader than a dead parrot: The Social Business Council.  Dachis Group shut it down this month.  It was a great resource for many early adopters and fans, and its legend lives on in the halls of Wikipedia if you’d like to update the page.

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That Sound You’re Not Hearing in Your Business Could Be Fatal.

folon

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know.
Silence like a cancer grows.”   Simon and Garfunkel

 

If we’ve learned anything over these past six, going on seven years of covering the internal social collaboration sector, it’s that the social web has become a catalyst for intellectual curiosity. Tribes are forming everywhere with the growing popularity of niche sub-groups from LinkedIn to Google Communities. As quickly as you can say “add me,” this socially savvy collective is connecting, learning, and sharing with effortless, timeless ease. In other words, the long tail of interesting projects and topics is attracting talent to shared interest groups with like-minded professionals every moment around the social globe.

The future of the enterprise is already here albeit unevenly distributed in blossoms of network connections.  What are not unevenly distributed, are the individuals that “get” social collaboration and new modes of working. Small networks of professionals have always been present in the business world, but what’s different in the social era is the degree to which strong bonds and real relationships are forged on a foundation of meritocracy and reciprocal trust.  Not only do we know who you are, we observe your behavior in the network, and make judgments about your contributions and motives.  And absent an economic incentive to work together, individuals are sharing for the sheer pleasure of learning and teaching.

With a healthy, organic socio-collaborative corporate philosophy and pleasing UX platforms to foster it, talent will not stray outside the corporate walls for intellectual stimulation.  The corporate town hall will be buzzing with ideas and positive energy.  But, if your internal network is deathly quiet, or worse – non-existent, you can count the hours before your best performing future-worker talent connects itself to that outside world permanently, leaving you wondering why you didn’t see the big shift soon enough to make the change that could save your company.

The key to keeping your talent in-house and focused on organizational goals is to ensure the company’s mission is in sync with individual passions and interests. Command and control has been rendered obsolete in a galaxy of independent thinkers. It can putter on in the short term, but will never survive the long term.

I was poring over the lengthy back and forth between Nick Carr and Clay Shirky over the future of the book publishing industry a few weeks ago. At the same time, I stumbled upon this timeless piece by Boston Consulting Group founder Bruce Henderson about the difficulty of effecting change in a large organization.  PUB DATE: 1968   Henderson points out there are predominantly three dependent reasons why companies fail to change and ultimately fail altogether:  executive management doesn’t recognize or believe there is a fundamental shift underway important enough to affect the business, leadership doesn’t champion the change, and by the time they figure it out, it’s too late. In the final analysis, what hit me like a ton of Blockbuster brick and mortars is how foolish it will be for large enterprises to reject the premise (and practice) of social collaboration.  In the same way that media content is being re-purposed, repackaged, and re-distributed, so it will be for the knowledge assets of knowledge workers.  The degree to which executive management can recognize these important trends and retain its intellectual capital will be key to managing the shift.

Bonus:  A recent study by the CEB links healthy collaboration to breakthrough performance

Fracking for Value in the Enterprise

Finally getting around to publishing some thoughts from JiveWorld 2012.  Jive has always been a leader in pushing the hot buttons on social.  In the beginning, at JiveWorld’s inaugural event, the theme was decidedly about educating the market to “think different” and ingrain a social orientation toward reinventing work and customer outreach.  The market actually needed a lot of hype to get some lift in the early days.  Jive set a high bar on energizing its early adopter customer base.

I wrote then, in 2009:

It takes a startup like Jive to inject innovation, creativity, passion, and excitement to this sector.  Jive is releasing a ground-breaking set of features that will set a new high bar for excellence in the category.  I’m certain the tech bloggers will cover the announcements in depth, but in brief, Jive is announcing an iPhone app (plus an email-driven enriched BlackBerry experience), very slick MS Office integration, and a bridging capability that will unite internal and external communities.  All this in addition to the series of announcements Jive made previously that include social media monitoring and a SharePoint connector.

What’s significant about the Jive announcements is the company’s commitment to releasing timely, innovative new capabilities in response to customer feedback and requests.  I’m here at JiveWorld, the company’s first customer event.  From the energy circulating in the crowd here, it’s obvious to me Jive is customer-driven and loyalty from Jive’s customers handily delivers repeat revenue as well as product improvements.

Jive’s ability to manage the books, pay careful attention to its user base, invest in educating its partners and employees, rationally identify its target market, as well as manage its growth effectively squarely positions the company uniquely from other startup competitors in the space.  Further, it accentuates the advantage startups have over the large enterprise vendors where releases are timed in years, not months.

This year in 2012, now that Jive customers are relatively comfortable working in this new way, Jive is pushing customers further and helping them discover the business value buried in their organization that can be extracted.  It’s kind of like fracking in the bedrock of the enterprise for stored value.  Chris Morace, Jive Chief Strategy Officer, calls it finding the “money laying around” in your organization when you start viewing your organization in a modern way and start using social technology strategically.  With the 6.0 release, the Jive platform itself is morphing into a dynamic institutional intelligence engine that “knows” you and can help you improve your job performance. This is the kind of education and innovation that marks the next stage of evolution in social business transformation. The company has published a guidebook for customers on Business Value with over two dozen specific examples of how Jive customers are realizing hard dollar savings, productivity gains, improved outcomes, and accelerated outcomes.

It occurred to me during the conference that Jive is the real deal on this and way ahead of the social brat pack of competitors pushing into the space.  In the end, it will be great to see all social platform vendors educating customers on where and how to apply social for business advantage, but so many of them are still where Jive was a few years ago relative to basic evangelism and market education.

Value case – Teletech

That said, I picked up on a case study that interested me from my fellow Enterprise Irregular compadre Esteban Kolsky’s panel on “Approaching Customer Service from the Customer’s Point of View.”  It was a comment made during the opening remarks by panelist Lamont Exeter, Executive Director at TeleTech. He said that working socially had actually enabled the company to change a business process that led to a vast improvement in how they handle their escalation process on customer trouble tickets. Considering TeleTech is a the leading business process outsourcing provider of technology-enabled customer experience solutions, I found this to be not a trivial remark. For years, I’ve been pointing out that the opportunity in social is to improve outdated business processes that were originally designed for the industrial age. “Socializing” existing business processes will only get us partially to the potential results inherent in a true social business transformation.  This is exemplified in the TeleTech case.

I followed up later with Exeter, and he explained in detail the business process improvement he mentioned on the panel. A singular changed process resulted in several gains for a TeleTech client. In the old way of doing things, a customer would call with an issue. If a process or procedure change was required , the associate would send an email or manual spreadsheet report and a team leader would open up a ticket.  Then, IT  or a subject matter expert (SME) would either fix the issue and close the ticket or close a ticket without communicating the reason back to the associate.  It generally took about 5 days, on average, to move through trouble tickets and in neither case would feedback be provided to the associate who initiated the ticket. This resulted in associates feeling as though they were not “heard” or valued.

Now, with TeleTech’s Iris community (powered by Jive), frontline employees can comment on a process and the SME is immediately notified – cutting out all those time-consuming steps.  The SME gets a notification from the frontline team and has 24 hours to reply. The official new time to resolution has been slashed to 17 hours and 43 minutes – a 567% decrease!  The process has a transparent gamification element that motivates employees to close out tickets as fast as possible too.  In addition,  the client cut eighty-eight percent of their ticket reworks because everyone sees the same problem and common answers are available on the community.  It’s internal “crowd sourcing.” The time saved on this resolution efficiency enabled the client  to reassign thirty-three percent of its staff to more productive work, further saving the client labor costs.  By changing this process, TeleTech increased customer satisfaction, saved on labor costs, and now has one of the most competitive low in-bound call volume records in its industry.

Another interesting aspect of the TeleTech case study is the deliberate integration of Jive with 8 different technology platforms including Bunchball (for gamification), leading CRM systems, a learning management system, an employee performance system, and a micro-learning tool.  This myth-busts the notion that all social platforms are islands of irrelevance.  The smartest companies are way ahead on the integration curve and weaving social into the corporate enterprise stack by clever use of API integration and other web services.

All told, the conference was great for all the right reasons.  It was pure pleasure to talk to Jive customers at our 7Summits booth on the exhibit floor, learn from the presenters, and indulge in the hyper-networking that goes on at industry events.  I look forward to continuing to expose the business value cases I’m uncovering with our clients.  Some of them, frankly, are blowing my mind.  For a better understanding of how 7Summits approaches unlocking the value in enterprise by retooling business processes for social, see this introductory presentation by R.J. Reimers.

 

 

 

Two Surprising Statistics on Social Business Progress in the Enterprise

Over the summer, we conducted a short survey among the Social Business Council members to gauge where large enterprises are regarding their progress introducing social to the enterprise.  The request was made by a Council member who was looking for some hard benchmarking data he could share with his team.

We wanted to answer the question:

“How far along are the leading early adopters?”

The results were eye-opening.  So many of us who track the market are always saying how early we are, how we are just at the beginning of this transformation,  how it could take a decade or so to really start seeing the fruits of our efforts, etc.   But, we really didn’t have a lot of  hard evidence.*  Now we do.

The first eye-opener was where early adopters report they are.

Nearly two-thirds of the companies surveyed (57%) reported that that only 10-20% of their eligible workforce is active on the platform.  The flip side of this statistic is, of course, that there is a lot of room to grow, and it opens up large opportunities for consultants, vendors, and social business advocates to help companies succeed here.

The second big reveal for me was the number of companies who indicated there is no real integration between their external social initiatives (social media/customer outreach) and their internal social efforts (a.k.a. Enterprise 2.0).  It was nearly unanimous: 96% reported there was nothing today that integrated their social business initiatives, although nearly half reported this was on the planning board.

In short, the survey asked 10 simple questions, yet essentially debunked some of the hype that circulates on the social web regarding the state of the market. In essence, the social business phenomenon is real, but all stakeholders vested in the market would be well-advised to exercise some patience in expecting game-changing results.

Dion Hinchcliffe wrote a longer piece on ZDnet with some of his takeaways, and you can download the report here.

*These survey results reflect the progress of  a unique cohort: very large enterprises with more than one billion USD in annual revenue that are actively engaged in a social business initiative.  Smaller organizations may report different results.

 

 

 

Setting Sights on New Heights with 7 Summits!

Snapped a shot of the Marquette crew while walking to the office last week. Thought it was a fitting visual metaphor.

Announcing my new gig today! [Press Release]  I’ve accepted an offer to work for a gutsy startup with big plans: 7 Summits. Based out of Milwaukee and Chicago, this fast-growing team has been #killingit building award-winning Jive communities that succeed on a foundation of strategy and solid user experience to deliver clearly articulated business results.

I first heard about the firm via my friend and ex-Moxie (then, nGenera) colleague, Steve Elmore. Steve had recently taken a position there as VP, Social Business Strategy.  I’ve known Steve for a long while, and he’s definitely one of the handful of my industry friends that sees the opportunity for social business through the same lens I do.  When Steve started telling me about the culture and vision driving 7Summits, I felt like it was kind of a dream come true for both of us if we could both be part of a team that shares our core social DNA.

While I was researching career opportunities in the market, I received a couple of other great offers.  But, during my evaluations, I kept coming back to 7Summits.  I ultimately made the decision on a short list of defining criteria:

Experienced Leadership that Executes with Rigor

7 Summits is exceptionally well-managed.  There is a mature and focused approach to goal-setting and performance that permeates every facet of the business. As a result, the company is on a strong trajectory of organic growth. The founders, Paul Stillmank and RJ Reimers, held executive positions at Manpower, Whittman-Hart, and Accenture and know how to scale a services business. The core focus on business direction, achievement, and results combined with a sincere intention to build a company culture with character and integrity at its core is refreshing and highly attractive.  One of the most impressive indicators for me was the outstanding reputation the company enjoys among the clients I surveyed.  Most especially because the company has done very little to elevate its brand.  In other words, the reputation was earned the hard way with performance vs. promotion.

A Culture Based on Shared Values of Openness and Inclusion

The company is run as a social business.  Content is openly shared on the company’s internal Jive instance and daily stand ups occur to gauge how everyone in the company is doing.  Every voice matters and the company operates as a team. Culture is the single greatest asset to a services company. I learned this first hand in my experience covering the largest IT services players in the 90s.   During the interview process, I perceived a company culture based on group goals, a dedication to excellence, and a genuine concern for the customer. (Fantastic!)  My personal goal is to fit in seamlessly with the team and expose this tremendous esprit de corps to the outside world.  The company culture and story will be a magnet for customers, partners, investors, and talent for years to come.

A Platform for Social Business Advocacy

As a trusted advisor to its clients, the company matches passion about the promise of social business transformation with purpose and provides its clients a roadmap for how to achieve the promised results.  And the “soft” side of social does not get buried in the business of delivery.  In fact, “Enhancing people’s lives” is part of the company’s mission statement.  In other words, this is a company that gets it. Internal social, external social, and everything in-between.  It’s the first dedicated firm in the U.S. I’ve come across whose business is centered exclusively on delivering social business solutions to every corner of the market: Marketing, IT, or any progressive business unit that wants to introduce social capability to operate more effectively.

In short, I look forward to introducing this company and the transformational work it is doing to my regular readers, fans, and friends of social business.  We will be heading to JiveWorld next week and I will be proud to participate in the fun programs the company has in place to galvanize the believers.  (Please let me know if you’ll be there!) Additionally, the company is on a growth trajectory and is recruiting smart talent looking for a new home to exercise their passion for this work that we’ve all come to love.  I encourage you to apply for any of our open positions.  If I know you personally, make sure to drop me a note too, so I can add some texture to your application. You can reach me directly at susan.scrupski at 7summitsagency dot com.  And keep checking the job board.  New positions are going up all the time.

Onwards!