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In the past few decades, the world has witnessed a revolution in communication technology that has altered how organizations conduct their affairs. Consequently, social networks for organizations have emerged to assist enterprises properly collaborate within and outside their units, departments, organization-wide and countries. Technology is at the center of social collaboration enterprise. In fact, some researchers have identified social media as the new tools for communication and collaboration in the business environment. As such, there is constant and fast uptake in the application of the Internet to enhance communication and collaboration (Georgescu and Popescul 277). Modern social technologies create a sense of online community for the workforce and assist them to develop connection as they pursue business goals.
At the same time, new studies have identified critical business benefits, which organizations have attained from social collaboration (Borg 1).
Some organizations, specifically senior executives, still have difficulties comprehending the relevance and benefits of social collaboration enterprise. In addition, some firms that have attempted to adopt social collaboration normally realize that shortly after embracing the social technologies, employees lose interest, and only a few employees, if not none, continue to use such tools.
The purpose of this report is to demonstrate why organizations should adopt collaboration tools and enterprise social networks to enhance the concept of social collaboration enterprise while creating a competitive edge.
Hence, this report will explore some attempts to push social collaboration enterprise, the current status, outcomes and the future of the social collaboration enterprise.
According to the most recent study conducted by Altimeter, while organizations continue to push for social collaboration enterprise, the reality is that several attempts have failed (Li 1). In fact, less than half of these initiatives have regular users (Li 1). Nevertheless, in the recent few years, social technology has transformed how individuals collaborate and communicate (Mettler and Winter 1). It is noted that there is a blurred line between personal and work life because of social technology tools. Consequently, business software developers have focused on pushing new technologies that can improve social collaboration through integrating social platforms in their software packages.
Organizations require their vital employees to work smarter, efficiently and more productively (Hamilton, Kass and Alter 2). To realize this goal, organizations need to integrate collaborative social technologies within their activities and promote collaborative behaviors to eventually change how they transform expertise into action. Social collaboration technologies should assist employees to perform their work beyond discussions and talks. It is imperative to recognize that collaboration technology platforms have existed for several years. However, organizations have never utilized these technologies to attain their full potential.
Clearly, social collaboration technologies are abundant in the marketplace. Vendors currently provide various collaboration tools to assist employees manage their tasks. Some of these tools include Chatter from Salesforce, Newsgator, Jive Software, Telligent and Yammer. In addition, AnswerHub also provides social networking services to organizations. Other social sites such as wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, user groups and file repositories among others are also vital components of social business software platforms.
It is an integrated enterprise solution with questions and answers for employees. These tools have gained popularity in the last few years. In fact, the success of Facebook triggered critical questions for both vendors and businesses. They wanted to adopt social tools that would ensure that employees worked together within and across organizations. Some research showed that a section of employees used their social media while at work, and another significant percentage of those employees often used their social media platforms for business-related issues (Holtzblatt et al. 1).
Initially, organizations used social media platforms for marketing campaigns. Today, however, firms have noted that social media platforms can also be used for knowledge management, idea generation and enhancing social ties. While these tools are widely available in organizations, some studies have shown that a significant number of organizations require their employees to engage actively with social collaboration enterprise tools (Holtzblatt et al. 1). The increased adoption of enterprise social media platforms has expressly offered opportunities for enhancing personal and work life.
Increasingly, many firms are now focusing on broader application of social media to engage employees in idea generation, discussion, refining and assessment of such ideas (Tierney and Drury 2). Enterprise social media platforms used for the above-mentioned purposes are also known as idea management tools or innovation management platforms (Tierney and Drury 2). These specialized names depict that organizations are now finding enterprise social platforms increasingly useful for various purposes.
As the current employees become more technologically savvy, they have changing needs at workplaces. Generally, they are referred to as ‘social media’ workforce, which mainly consists of employees aged between 20s and 40s. Such employees have different social behaviors that would eventually influence how organizations work. In fact, the new generation of employees would want to use their own devices at workplaces and change effortlessly between social communication and job, or conduct their roles remotely or work while on the move if they can gain access to all the necessary tools and information required (Atos 3). On this note, organizations can only attract and retain such employees when they invest in relevant devices and technologies and incorporate useful social media platforms within the enterprise to offer a favorable environment in which such employees can deliver most effectively.
Organizational change to embrace information technology is therefore necessary for modern firms (Medlin 74). This process requires organizations to identify specific social issues and determine their related constructs. Thus, companies should focus on social collaboration enterprise success while mitigating failures associated with information technology.
Organizations should, therefore, develop long-term social collaboration enterprise models or strategies to meet expectations of various stakeholders, including internal uses and external relations such as customers.
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Finally, it is also necessary for organizations to realize risks associated with the use of social media platforms as they pursue social collaboration enterprise (Shullich 3). These platforms have a common attribute of user-generated content, which could expose an organization to attack. Hence, the pursuit of social collaboration enterprise requires effective management.
Methodology and Research Details
In carrying out social collaboration enterprise research, literature research methodology was used. Basically, the methodology entails in-depth reading of literature materials, analyzing and finally sorting literature materials. This is done to identify the imperative attributes of materials. Further, literature research methodology does not deal straight with the object under study. Rather, the methodology uses the “non-contact method” by accessing information from an assortment of related literature materials.
Therefore, the deliberate selecting of representative research literature is necessitated. The following principles guided processes of selecting representative literature materials for social collaboration enterprise reports.
First, the selected literature materials had authority. Worthy materials selected were from reputable authors who included article writers in renowned national magazines, expert editors of key research bases, and academicians among others. The number of times literature materials was cited helped the researchers in verifying the authority of the material. A literature material that has been cited by many writers tends to have authority.
Second, the selected literature materials were considered effective. That is, literature materials added value to the study issue by being constructive for obtaining arguments, earnest for abstracting, and conducive to the development of research thoughts. Thus, accuracy, comprehensiveness, relevance, depth, and timeliness of data were upheld. Consequently, they led to logical scientific conclusions.
Third, the literature materials used were considered reliable. Reliable literature materials are authentic with accurate and verified facts that are not subject to modification. The content of the literature material faithfully portrayed the truth paying attention to accuracy on dates and data.
Fourth, the literature materials used had purposefulness by being relevant for the research subject. The theoretical base of the matter under study was a typical example of the selected literature materials. Researchers then used the material to study the past trends and forecast the future issues pertinent to the issue.
Some studies and professional points of view highlight critical challenges for social collaboration enterprise. As previously mentioned, many senior executives are yet to acknowledge the relevance of social collaboration enterprise. Consequently, it is noted that the landscape of social collaboration is characterized by failed outcomes. In fact, it was observed that not more than half of enterprise collaboration technologies deployed have many regular users. Multiple issues have been identified that could curtail the success of social collaboration enterprise.
- Collaboration that lacks clear values may not work for all employees
- Processes and people are ignored as attention shifts to technologies
- Some organizations may not use the most effective social collaboration technologies
- Employees, in some instances, opt for knowledge hoarding
- Reluctance to adopt new social collaboration due to past failures
- Most organizations are overwhelmed by technology choices
- Failure to demonstrate management buy-in
- Difficulties in measuring value
The answers to these issues are not simple because they are responsible for massive failures in social collaboration enterprise efforts. These challenges result from mistakes that organizations make when they decide to adopt social collaboration technologies.
Most social collaboration tools for enterprises have failed because of the failure to attain senior executive or middle-level managers’ buy-in. It is generally acknowledged that organizational culture that supports social collaboration should always begin at the top. Senior-level managers should be actively engaged in developing a culture of social collaboration with the right tools. Hence, they must go beyond allowing employees to use such tools in their organizations. At the same time, middle-level managers should also play their critical roles in promoting social collaboration in their departments. Such managers are responsible for the tactical implementation of organizational and executive visions. Hence, they should create a corporate culture that encourages employees to adopt new technologies. As such, middle-level managers should understand the overall benefits of social collaboration technologies to avoid failures.
It has also been observed that in most instances senior executives are reluctant to change and, therefore, tend to continue with traditional practices because of their positions. Challenges experienced with senior executives often result from failure to understand how social collaboration technologies would benefit the organization and lack of technical know-how to use such new tools.
In this case, it is recommended that senior executives should be given a step-by-step guide on how social collaboration technologies would work, how they can use them and demonstrate the expected outcomes and benefits. While the new generation of workforce may champion social collaboration technologies, it is still necessary for support to come from senior executives. In this case, senior executives and managers should publicly and regularly use social collaboration technologies to communicate with employees while developing transparency and trust in the organization.
Another critical issue identified is how to measure value from social collaboration enterprise. It is difficult to assess return on investment of social collaboration. Hence, it is equally difficult to determine its value. Social collaboration technologies can be evaluated in terms of meetings and their values. Hence, the value of social collaboration technologies can only be derived from the interaction among individuals communicating or interactions noted in during meetings.
Alternatively, organizations should simply research to determine costs associated with social collaboration technologies against increased productivity in an organization.
Many organizations fail to attain social collaboration enterprises because of failure to develop effective collaboration strategy. Surveys have identified that many organizations lack collaboration strategies and expect it to grow organically (Coleman 1). In fact, it emerges from a new generation of employees, who are technologically well informed. While management may initiate a social collaboration strategy and plan for the adoption of social collaboration tools, such cases could be rare.
In addition, some organizations completely lack plans, and employees just rely on social networking tools they have used before, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook among others. Employees included corporate contents in their communications. Organizations will face the challenge of identifying goals and results from collaboration activities. In this case, an external consultant can assist a company to develop goals and outcomes for social collaboration processes. Stakeholders must be involved in the processes to limit possible cases of resistance.
Technology vendors with social collaboration tools promising better results are numerous. Consequently, organizations often face the challenge of picking the best tools for their social networking activities. Several vendor solutions exist that nearly do the same tasks for organizations. Nevertheless, an IT department can always recommend specific solutions. The choice is always daunting. On this note, it is recommended that organizations should focus on outcomes rather than technologies. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the needs of end-users and expected outcomes. This process will require stakeholder assessment and work on identifying technology solutions that would assist employees and the organization to attain the preferred objectives.
Organizations may also be reluctant to initiate new social collaboration enterprise efforts because of past failures. Employees may attempt to resist general collaboration tools such as SharePoint, but support tools that deliver benefits that all stakeholders can notice. Hence, organizations should find specific solutions developed for specific collaboration processes to control resistance.
Knowledge hoarding is a major challenge for social collaboration enterprise. Information attains multiple values when it is shared. However, that value diminishes when employees hoard information. Organizations should develop transparent processes while developing trust among employees. Hoarding information is a behavioral dysfunctional issue. Thus, the best solution should come from managers and senior executives when they openly contribute on social collaboration platforms without hoarding vital information from juniors.
The main purpose of the social collaboration network is to enhance the collective sharing of ideas and knowledge. In most companies, ideas usually emanate from senior executives and then disseminate to junior employees, but such ideas are not subjected to real discussions or contributions from employees. It is imperative to note that these organizations also acknowledge contributions and feedback from their employees. Traditionally, executives have however not developed a culture of two-way communication in their organizations and across departments. It is expected that social collaboration technologies will help organizations to overcome such traditional communication barriers. Hence, it would be simple for any employee with viable contributions to submit and receive feedback.
Today’s workplace is characterized by information overload. Hence, they spend much time tracking down vital information and resources and perhaps organizational experts they require to obtain vital information. Social collaboration technologies will help organizations and employees to overcome such challenges because all employees will have opportunities to engage directly with subject matter experts and benefit from the collective expertise of the workforce. These platforms offer opportunities for employees to engage with each other in real-time and crowd-source ideas and feedback. Hence, it becomes easier for employees to ask and answer questions, analyze and solve issues while leveraging existing knowledge within the company.
Organizations that implement social collaboration tools tend to concentrate on technology rather than employees and processes (Avanade 5). In fact, too much emphasis is put on technology at the expense of solutions and outcomes. Organizations must focus on their employees and critical behavioral issues because these factors can derail the adoption of social collaboration tools. They must, therefore, develop sustainable relationships and encourage employees to use such technologies to overcome notable barriers in social collaboration networks. As the IT department implement social collaboration technologies, they should also focus on the best solutions and strategies that would meet the diverse needs of employees across the organization.
It has also been observed that some social collaboration initiatives fail because adoption and usage are made mandatory. It is difficult to force social collaboration between people. In fact, mandatory adoption often fails. Instead, senior executives, managers, and IT teams should strive to demonstrate to employees the relevance of social collaboration and show how such new initiatives will benefit the organization and all employees through simplifying work processes. Employees are mainly interested in understanding how they will benefit from their efforts devoted to learning and using social collaborative tools.
Through aligning the possible benefits of social collaboration efforts with individual employee needs and goals as well as organizational and departmental ones, the efforts have high chances of reflecting the needs of each employee. This approach will perhaps lead to sustained adoption and usage. As organizations continue to identify benefits that they can attain from social collaboration and gain more skills in evaluating the ROI of such efforts, it is most likely that they will want to adopt such solutions. At the same time, when companies understand possible challenges, the IT department and managers can strive to avoid them and strive to determine the most appropriate time and how turning into a social enterprise can assist the company to attain its strategic business goals.
Turning into a social collaboration enterprise requires comprehension of end-user needs and habits. Social collaboration tools should assist employees to attain their full potential. In this regard, organizations should first assess how their workforces work best and critical resources they require for success. Most social collaboration technologies have vibrant analytics capabilities relative to e-mail (Krishnan and Rogers 11). As such, user preferences and adoption patterns have shifted significantly. Modern social collaboration tools allow users to gain insights about subjects and vital ideas. Consequently, they can understand an organization and relevant social dynamics that influence employee behaviors and performances. Employees are most likely to use social collaboration technologies when they offer robust analytics capabilities.
Flipboard, for instance, is a social network aggregation platform that collects the most relevant information for the day because of its robust analytical capabilities. In addition, other social collaboration technologies offer employees opportunities to learn about the trending topics and pieces of information for their companies. Organizations that implement social collaboration technologies focus on powerful means of solving common corporate challenges, enhancing collaboration and developing an enhanced sense of engagement. Social collaboration technologies build on the basics of interpersonal interaction already experienced by many employees. Thus, they create fundamental networks that can change how employees perform their duties, learn and communicate across an organization.
Failure to train end-users also results in low usage and eventual failure of social collaboration technologies. When employees lack skills to use such platforms, they will not use them. Training and development, therefore, are critical elements of social enterprises. It is based on the assumption that knowledge acquired by employees would lead to efficiency in the use of such tools. Learning about social collaboration technologies and related statistics is beneficial to organizations. It is noted that underspending has led to poor implementation of some technologies and equipment and managers fail to account for poor outcomes associated with such actions or inactions.
Finally, collaboration is not great for all employees. Hence, organizations should develop a collaboration strategy as an element of a critical process that leverages collaboration tools. Organizations should focus on business processes that require collaborative leverage and then develop a benchmark metric prior to the introduction of collaboration technologies to such processes. Outcomes should be compared with outcomes after the introduction of such tools to determine their benefits.
Social collaboration enterprise requires organizations to develop a strong sense of community. Employees tend to perform better when they feel as a part of a larger community that is focusing and contributing to a meaningful goal. In most circumstances though, employees feel disengaged from critical organizational goals and objectives. In addition, it is not clear how they contribute or fit into these goals and differences they make. The purpose of social collaboration tools is to help employees to overcome such barriers through open communication and contribution that cut across the entire organization. Thus, senior executives, managers, and employees can work together towards a shared vision. Besides, social collaboration technologies provide platforms that can be used to recognize the contribution of employees publicly and create networks that foster peer-to-peer collaboration. The strategy results in a deeply engaged community of employees.
Overall, social collaboration enterprise relies on “social media and Next-Generation Communications technologies (integrated voice, mobile, video, instant messaging / chat, and presence) to foster increased teamwork and knowledge sharing, to improve business outcomes” (Aberdeen Group 1). Successful organizations have applied these tools to drive efficiency in their current business processes. As such, they have enhanced functions of various roles using social collaboration technologies to create social enterprises.
This report has explored various aspects of social collaboration enterprise. It shows that the current landscape is characterized by a myriad of challenges, which can be managed through effective strategies and adoption. Thus, for organizations to realize social collaboration enterprise, strategies, outcomes, and benefits should be clear and specific to all stakeholders. Such an approach will have buy-in from all employees and executives.
It is imperative to recognize that collaboration is inevitable because of notable changes in workplaces brought about by technologies, new ways of doing tasks, changing organizational structures, workforce dynamics, and talent wars. Despite all these shifts, organizations must realize that social collaboration enterprises should be people-driven and not technological pursuits. Thus, it can only take place when there is a culture of working together and leveraging human capital to transform business processes for success. Hence, social collaboration enterprise will be the new future.
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