Tag Archives: Interactive Intranet Enterprise 2.0 Employee Commitment

Hard-coding the organisation’s strategy into your Intranet

In the past, Intranets have been, at best, archives of potentially useful information like leave forms and what is on the lunch menu at the cafeteria, covered in a strategic veneer of the organisational vision, mission and values on the landing page. In many organisations, Intranets are mausoleums of unfindable and outdated documents.

With the advent of the interactive web (web 2.0) we have the ability to hard code the organisational strategy into an organic ecosystem which forms the backbone of the enterprise, surfacing knowledge and behaviour in ways impossible before. The secret lies in data modelling.

Because web 2.0 enables employees to engage with the Intranet, they are generating metadata about how they are using the information and connecting with each other. There are a number of data sets that we can combine in the same way that DNA is structured to make the intranet dynamic and far more useful.

These datasets include information from people’s profiles, who they are, what interests them, what they are working on, their key performance areas etc. Other datasets come from the metadata in documents, what they are about, who is creating, reading, updating and commenting on them, the taxonomy how the information is categorised and stored.

When infusing these datasets with meaning, we use data architectures to inculcate the organisational strategies. These architectures are generated by translating the organisational strategy into a matrix configured according to KPI’s and organisational design.

So how do we do this?

We start with the organisational strategy, what is the vision is for where the organisation is going and how it will get there? What products and services it sells, which geographies, where its competitive advantages are, what are its strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats?

Then we examine how the organisation has been configured to do this, what is the organisational design, what are the employees key performance areas, what processes are in place and which technologies are being used?

At a deeper level of granularity, we translate the employee data into profiles from which we get the information about how they deliver on the strategy. Typical data includes variables about where they fit into the organisational structure, what information they need, what tasks they need to perform, the knowledge and skills and experience they have.

The categories of information that employees need to do their work is translated into a taxonomy and site structure which is intuitive and web 2.0 tools, such as wikis and blogs are added to enable them to engage with each other and create read and update information and knowledge.

Making it easy to find what they need is ensured by using semantic and predictive search. This is important because unless employees find the Intranet useful and easy to use, they will not use it.

Next we map the organisational processes for delivery on the strategy and relate them back to the employees using data. We also examine the other tools that we have to hand for data input, such as the technologies which could be integrated including ERP systems etc. Workflow is built into the processes on the Intranet.

Metadata is created for documents, online conversations and behaviours. This can be automated in applications like MS SharePoint 2010, and will feed into the search.

We can also identify additional external datasets which could enhance the employees ability to deliver, such as RSS feeds from the Dow Jones or the latest updates from industry research bodies.

A word of caution

Projects like these should not be undertaken lightly, the development of Intranet strategies can take a couple of months and requires executive commitment.

If the organisation is dysfunctional, or the processes are not optimised, you can wind up coding inefficiencies into the DNA of the organisation.

It is important to ensure that whoever facilitates the development of the strategy is a business minded person who understands how organisations function and be optimised.

Technologist often understand the software and could fit the organisation into the software, where because web 2.0 is all about people, the business must define the technology requirements.

Benefits of this approach

The benefits of this approach are numerous:

  • A data driven approach enables agility within large organisations because as they change, it is possible to code new directions, processes and innovations into the strategic backbone of the enterprise;
  • Communication, information and knowledge can be pushed to employees in a bespoke manner based on their specific requirements.
  • It is possible to create an individually customised view of the Intranet to ensure that employees only see what they need to see which increases the relevance to each employee, and reduces information overload;
  • Knowledge can be created once and used multiple times;
  • Organisational networks can be surfaced for succession planning, and to understand who is networking with whom; and
  • Performance can be managed through an understanding of what individuals are doing.

By using a data driven approach we can now code the strategy and the way we do things into an organic, expanding Intranet and truly drive competitive advantage.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Blogging, Business, Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Semantics

Approaching Enterprise 2.0, beware your mindset

I recently read an interesting article by Donald Sull entitled “Why good companies go bad” – Financial Times (3 October 2005). In it he expands on the concept of “active inertia”, saying that “companies  often respond to even the most disruptive market shifts by accelerating activities that succeeded in the past. When the world changes, organizations trapped in active inertia do more of the same. A little faster perhaps or tweaked at the margin, but basically the same old same old.”

Sull uses the example of organisations trapped in active inertia as resembling a car with its back wheels stuck in a rut. Managers step on the petrol and rather than escaping the rut, they only dig themselves in deeper.

He talks about clear commitments being required for company’ initial successes, but he says that these commitments harden with time and ultimately constrain a firm’s ability to adapt when its competitive environment shifts. He discusses distinctive success formulas which focus on employees, confer efficiency, attract resources and differentiate the company from rivals.

Five categories of commitments comprise the success formula for organisations:

  • Strategic frames – What we see when we look at the world, including definition of industry, relevant competitors and how to create value;
  • Processes – How we do things – entailing both informal and formal routines;
  • Resources – Tangible and intangible assets that we control which help us compete, such as brand, skills, technology, real estate, expertise, etc.;
  • Relationships – Established links with external stakeholders including investors, technology partners or distributors; and
  • Values – Beliefs that inspire, unify and identify us.

Initial success reinforces management’s belief that they should fortify their success formula. With time and repetition, people stop considering alternatives to their commitments and take them for granted. The individual components of the success formula grow less flexible – Strategic frames become blinkers, resources harden into millstones hanging around a company’s neck, processes settle into routines, relationships become shackles and values ossify into dogmas.

Ossified success formulas are fine, as long as the context remains stable. However when the environment shifts, a gap can grow between what the market demands and what the firm does. Managers see the gap, often at an early stage, and respond aggressively to close it. But their hardened commitments channel their responses into well-worn ruts. The harder they work, the wider the gap becomes. The result is active inertia.

One seismic environmental shift, apart from structural changes in the global economy, is the advent of web 2.0 or the interactive internet. The new Internet has radically changed the rules of the game, customers have more power, companies have the ability to harness the Internet to apply many minds both internally and externally to collaborate and innovate.

Many companies are investigating Enterprise 2.0, but they are still filtering their interpretation through their existing success formulas.

In organisations I have worked with, I often see the role out of Enterprise 2.0 technologies from the IT department as though it was any other Enterprise technology like SAP or Oracle. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the technology being owned by the techies, web 2.0 has fundamentally changed the way that businesses will do business in the future and should be owned by the business. Often web 2.0 seems to be interpreted as the technical ability to blog, or a wiki, bolted onto a content management system for a website, or the document management system within an organisation.

In reality Enterprise 2.0 should be accompanied by a strategic review of how a company is doing business, its environment and its new, empowered customers and expanding markets. Processes need to be reviewed and designed from the user backwards, the way we handle orders and complaints needs to be streamlined, or the world will know all about a company’s unwillingness or inability to address issues. People’s skills need to be analysed, have they got what it takes to be able to communicate across porous company boundaries, do they know how to maintain their personal and company brands in an increasingly transparent business environment, has the organisation got enough dedicated resources to engage with powerful consumers and other stakeholders? What relationships are going to be key to the future of doing business and are the entrenched value systems compatible with a new business environment?

Many companies are looking to their suppliers for advice on how to roll out Enterprise 2.0, if the suppliers are technology companies or PR companies, firms need to realise that they will approach web 2.0 from their own mindset. PR companies see web 2.0 as an extension of the companies’ communication. Technology companies see it as an addition to the application architecture.

Microsoft has just released their magnificent SharePoint 2010, but it is important to realise that this is still just a software application. Granted its potential is fabulous, but until organisations review their strategies, processes and competencies, they are not going to realise the full power of the web. If they don’t think through their success formulas, the application will be implemented in such a way as to reinforce or aggravate the “active inertia”, enabling people to do more of the same more quickly. Generally the skills in technology suppliers are geared towards rolling out seats and adhering to good project management principles. They are not strategic business thinkers and need to partner with people who are focused on how companies create competitive advantage and function in the business environment.

Applications do not conduct business, people do. If employees in the organisation are required to collaborate for the organisation to become more successful, then the fact that they now have the tools to do so is not necessarily going to improve collaboration, they may need to be taught to collaborate – when, why, how? If people are required to engage with customers to shorten sales cycles, but the value system within the organisation is all about risk mitigation and proprietary methodologies, then the value system may need to be adapted to fit the modern business environment. If processes are designed from a point of view which suits the organisation and call centres have been deployed to cut costs, then no amount of wiki’s and blogs or the ability to “share” on Facebook is going to appease outraged customers who will take their gripes public.

Enterprise 2.0 requires greater levels of maturity within organisations and sophistication in how they function successfully in an ever changing environment. By reviewing their success formulas companies can use the web to compete in an extraordinary way and conduct business in a structurally changed business environment.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Macroeconomics 2.0

Digital Conversations – Science or Art?

One of the things that I find so fascinating about social media, is that it transcends the traditional artificial barriers that we have erected in business, letting us do things we never thought possible, or that in the past were more trouble than they were worth.

For example, an Interactive (web 2.0 enabled) Intranet means that now a marketing project can span the boundaries between HR, Marketing, Finance, Project Management and Operations, because they can all collaborate with each other on the success of the project, not just report to each other on their progress.

Social media also negates the barriers between organisations and employees. Employees are becoming an integral part of the corporate brand and customers are interacting more directly with the individuals in an organisation. I have direct relationships with many of my business partners and clients on Linked-In and we IM each other on Facebook, rather than going through the company switchboard.

Social media transcends the barriers between the public and private self; your private behaviour on-line is now part of your professional brand. When you Google someone you can find out a lot more about that person than his professional profile on the company website.

We can micro analyse niche groups and still have to contend with the “law of big numbers”, which means that mass community behaviour is not an aggregation of small communities of interest.

When communicating with our customers on-line, we can participate in their conversations. Their behaviour and personal networks are much more explicit than in the past. We can experiment with certain triggers to see what influence they have on consumer activity and we can analyse and detect quantifiable patterns and improve our product design based on what our customers are doing and saying on-line to whom etc.

But our ability to do things we have not done in the past brings about a requirement for a new type of skill, we have to become generalists, rather than specialists, both right and left brain thinkers. Although our ability to measure initiatives and behaviour on-line has greatly improved, because of the breaking down of barriers and the fact that our customers are dynamic and participating in the market on their own terms, we are going to have to find ways to skill ourselves up on understanding the intangibles, like behavioural drivers and the psychosomatics of our audience too.

Social media requires us to become both artists and scientists, an interesting challenge which I look forward to.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Digital Marketing Budgets

Internet marketing is concerned with creating a Digital Footprint which serves the organisation’s marketing needs. It consists four distinct elements

  • Providing information and education to the various stakeholders, whether they are potential customers, journalists, future employees etc. on the website;
  • Brand building through developing on-line communities, creating digital profiles etc;
  • Other on-line collateral to enhance “findability”; and
  • Direct response advertising.

Budgets need to be divided along the same lines for the best results.

Budgeting for a website

The budget for a website is normally informed by the website strategy as it translates from the organisational strategy. Most of us have built brochure websites in the past, and budgeting is relatively straight forward. The following components should be found in a website budget.

  • Scoping and specification in order to ensure that the site is fit for purpose and easy to use;
  • Design and development;
  • Hosting;
  • Software – there is some question of whether the software budget belongs with Marketing or IT. My suggestion is that if it is a discreet web based software that only relates to marketing, for example a bulk mailing app, then keep it in the marketing budget. However if it is an enterprise software like Microsoft’s’ SharePoint, budget for it in IT and reallocate the relevant portion to marketing, in that way marketing can quantify its returns more effectively;
  • Technical maintenance;
  • Content development and management – this is usually where most website’s fail, because this part of the budget is included in technical maintenance and allocated to the web company who it maintaining the site. Content generation and management is a marketing function, not a technical function and should be allocated to an internal marketing resource or an outsourced content management partner;
  • SEO – budget for the time for developing and tweaking the meta-data which is associated with the web page so that search engines can identify what your website is about and whether it is useful; and
  • Constant and never ending improvement, the modern website is in a constant state of flux and the organisation reacts or pro-actively engages with its environment. The website must be budgeted for in such a way that it can be dynamic and serve the organisation’s best interests.

Budgeting for Brand Building

On-line brand building is the use of social media to create communities, whether they are fans on Facebook, followers on Twitter or registered members of specialist communities such as the Pampers’ mums who blog and message each-other about all things baby.

These communities are used by marketers to create positive associations with the brand, to make the organisation more accessible to its target market as well as to educate them as to the brand attributes etc.

Brand building, while quantifiable is difficult to relate directly into sales generation and so we see fixed marketing budgets in this area. The budget can be determined as a percentage of sales or at the discretion of a pro-active marketer. Marketers do, however, need to understand that the investment is not only a Rand investment into design and development, but there is a far higher investment in terms of human resources. Maintaining healthy brand communities is a labour intensive activity and requires dedicated time to be allocated to the community. It is important to remember that on-line brand building creates a launch platform for enhancing the effectiveness of direct response marketing and increasing conversion rates, as such it is an essential part of the on-line marketing strategy.

Budgeting for “Findability”

A large part of creating a digital footprint is concerned with “Findability”, in other words, making sure that the brand is served up to the potential consumer on-line, at the point when they require the brand’s products or services.

The additional on-line marketing collateral that enhances findability includes blogs and thought leadership articles on specialist forums, the personal profiles of prominent employees on social media such as Linked-in, on-line press releases etc.

The budget for these activities is mainly concerned with the time that people spend on creating the content on the web which ensures that your organisation is found by the right people at the right time. There will be a direct financial implication if you outsource the management of any of these aspects to a professional content generation firm, in the same way as you can outsource your PR.

So far, the on-line budget has been very straight forward, it has included the financial aspects agreed to with the executive and the cost in terms of human resources who are allocated to these highly labour intensive marketing activities. But when it comes to budgeting for direct response advertising, we see an entirely new budgeting pattern starting to emerge.

Budgeting for Direct Response Advertising

The modern web offers numerous ways to create demonstrable and predictable ROI from direct response advertising activities. Well thought-out Internet advertising campaigns produce highly quantifiable results. The big opportunity for business is to recognise that a positive ROI from an advertising campaign means that profits should be maximised by investing more into the campaign.

Progressive marketers should not be constrained by limited budgets, rather, they should be accountable for revenues and net profits and any budget should be informed by the desired outcome. This is set to change the static, set-piece budget battles that marketers have had to fight with their financial counterparts in the boardroom.

In the past 5 years, advertising has been turned on its head by the rise of social media. This new media enables us to contextualise on-line brand messages and calls to action within our audience’s digital environment. According to Forrester Research, interactive marketing will represent 21 percent of all marketing spend by 2014. Those who understand and exploit the new marketing opportunities should not be constrained by a “percentage of sales” budget and be empowered to drive increased profits through marketing programmes that deliver predictable and demonstrable returns on marketing investments.

Advertising is becoming more complex and harder to execute. Audience fragmentation has accelerated making mass market targeting irrelevant to all but the largest brands. The democratisation of content in social media has replaced print, radio and TV as authoritative contexts where product advertising and endorsements drive sales and market share.

Direct response advertising is targeted and measurable. We can determine, with accuracy and predictability, the marketing ROI by campaign. It is the marketer’s job to quantify financial expectations and monitor the results very carefully. If you know you are going to make a profit from your campaign then the constraint is not a budget but the supply of profit drivers. On-line advertising enables CMOs to figuratively buy R100 notes for R50 each, by investing in on-line campaigns that create demonstrable profits at a predictable and repeatable rate.

Building marketing programmes with predictable and reliable profits is the original promise of Internet marketing. High performance marketers start with the premise that advertisers will reach the right customers (i.e., those who are in market with a demonstrable interest in the product or service). This enables advertisers to pay only for the action (click through, register, fill in the form etc.) that is positive proof that the potential customer is in the market and considering their particular offering.

In direct response marketing, the potential customer is interested in a product or service, the advertiser only pays for the click, proof that he is interested in the product or service. With the click, the conversation between advertiser and consumer begins. As long as an advertiser understands the profitability of each sale and the conversion rate from click to sale, he knows the value of each search click (Value of a click = profitability of sale X conversion rate of click to sale). As long as the advertiser is buying clicks from the likes of Google for less than the value of each click, he is guaranteeing a profit on his direct advertising spend. The new limits on marketing spend is no longer the budget, but rather how much can be spent while maintaining the conversion and sale values, or the capacity of the advertiser to deliver products and services.

While the principle is simple, execution is hard because online programmes have many key success factors. These include:

  • Managing a portfolio of multiple, evolving social media types with different conversion characteristics.
  • Purchasing the media so as to limit advertiser risk (e.g., CPA, CPC, CPL);
  • Targeting to ensure conversion rates and sale values stay satisfactory;
  • Developing creative for all consumer touch points (both advertising and user experience) that drive conversion;
  • Capturing, qualifying, and converting customer data. Advertisers need the right tools to transform customer information they gather into sales;
  • Responding rapidly to initial interest. According to an MIT study, responding to consumer interest within 5 minutes versus the following day increases conversion 100-fold!; and
  • Continuously optimising – Direct response advertising takes place in a dynamic marketplace, successful marketers will continuously optimise their media, creative, target segments and sales process to maximise profits.

For advertisers that understand well the value of a sale and how their advertising converts into sales, the marketing budget has been replaced with innovative, integrated marketing programmes that invest every Rand that drives a positive ROI possible.

The Internet has made marketing much more complex. But at the same time, it’s also much more measurable and accountable. Because CMOs can determine which parts of the marketing portfolio provide the greatest ROI, they can demand more from their marketing spend. Successful marketing is becoming less about bigger budgets and more about delivering ROI. Marketing requires being ruthlessly focused on delivering measurable profits.

Future winners in the on-line marketing space will understand that success means investing in continuous improvement that provide increasing and demonstrable profits.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Semantics, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Collaboration for Business Success

The 21st century with its advances in communication and technology requires us to be more agile than ever before in responding to business challenges and business leaders realise that helping employees access greater levels of collaborative intelligence at work is key to the future success of the business. It turns out that this is a way of motivating and retaining skilled people.

In a recent article released by GIBS entitled “The Age of Participation is about getting clever – together” (Gibs Review March 2008) they mention that research has shown a direct link between the level of collaboration within organisations and employee motivation, which depends on an individual’s attitude and the quality of their relationships within the team/entity.

Stephen James Joyce says in his book Teaching an Anthill to Fetch: Developing the Collaborative Intelligence of Teams, while that customer motivation impacts the quantity of business you do, employee motivation impacts the quality of business.

High levels of collaboration within an organisation improve employee retention, because people feel more connected and are much less inclined to leave.

Collaborative Intelligence is denoted with the symbol CQ, and is defined as is the ability to create, contribute to, and harness the power within networks of people. It enables participants to coordinate their actions closely with everyone else’s.

The GIBS Review quotes James Joyce as saying high CQ organisations:

  • Attract and retain high quality team members
  • Create a sense of meaningful participation
  • Collaborate in highly effective ways
  • Connect to a strong sense of purpose
  • Balance leadership and followship

Moreover, high CQ holds many transformative advantages for organisations:

  • People pull their weight and support each other to an extraordinary degree
  • There is a vigorous pursuit for learning, at an individual and a the team level
  • There is a sense of community within collaboratively intelligent teams/ departments, which others sense as something special.
  • Teams or entities with high CQ expect challenges and meet them with one eye on the results and the other on what they can learn from each encounter.

Collaborative and collective intelligence are two distinct things

The GIBS Review warns that collaborative intelligence should not be confused with collective intelligence. They are two distinct things:

  • Collective intelligence is the emergent intelligence of a collective entity, like a group or community.
  • Collaborative intelligence is a way of exercising collective intelligence.

Co-intelligence can be used at any level of social organisation.

  • A company can use better teamwork (collaborative intelligence) to build a more collectively intelligent company so that it can become dominant in its market (non-collaborative intelligence).
  • A collectively intelligent group could use its collective intelligence in collaborative or controlling ways or use collaborative intelligence to help it compete.

Co-intelligence affects how organisations are managed. It is fundamental to our survival in the 21st century. This means we create serious problems, when we don’t use co-intelligence at the higher levels of social organisation.

Management guru, Professor Gary Hamel says few executives would argue with the traditional and outdated definition of a manager’s role: the art of getting others to do what you want them to do. In fact the Industrial Age was built on four basic principles:

  • Managers have a clear vision
  • Managers exert hierarchical power
  • Managers get things done through bureaucratic procedures
  • Managers motivate their people through extrinsic rewards.

Hamel has formulated four alternative, ‘inversed’ principles:

  • Vision is often less effective than a guiding purpose and a desire for discovery
  • Industrial Age hierarchic decisions are often less accurate than those based the wisdom of the crowd
  • Bureaucratic procedure is often slower and less effective than a market-based system for allocating resources
  • Human motivation is, in reality, built on intrinsic rewards not on money.

High CQ requires the right tools and the right attitude

Web 2.0 tools are most conducive to developing high collaboration quotients in organisations. Tools, like virtual meetings and Web-based applications and wikis –  make it possible to do things at scale without necessarily having large groups of people physically aggregated, with hierarchic structures, says Hamel.

Collaborative tools also enable business professionals to explore the true potential of the group or team to which they belong. But, as useful as they are, collaborative tools are only part of the solution. As with most IT, it is not the technology itself that enables the competitive advantage, but the people. Witness CRM, the panacea of all customer relationships in 2000. It wasn’t until we figured out that having the software and the process wasn’t enough that organisations started to incorporate people skills into the solution and we see more successful CRM applications

In the same way CQ is quantified by what employees can and will do together, rather than what a piece of software will allow them to do.

James Joyce suggests 10 ways to develop people’s collaborative intelligence at work:

1. Establish a ‘higher calling’ for the team

  • This is a common purpose that represents a higher calling and brings context to the significance of the team’s existence.
  • Providing a service to society is the simplest way that an organisation can isolate a higher calling for its existence.
  • This process must be entered with full sincerity. A ‘true’ higher calling is reflective of the culture and intentions of the organisation as a whole. It is core to what the organisation stands ‘‘for’ and how it plans to achieve that.

2. Establish a reward system for innovation and creativity

  • Ensure that rewards are equally available for ideas and innovations that don’t work as for those that do.
  • Instead of focusing on the practical results of a particular idea, focus the level of innovation, even those that don’t result in ‘success’ in the conventional sense.
  • Many ‘mistakes’ have gone on to became innovations of great value
  • When we reward attempts at innovation, we demonstrate that it is the intention that is important.

3. Plan to use all of the experience within the team

  • Think of the years of life experience represented in a room of 15 people with an average age of 35. It represents over 500 years of life experience.
  • Great team leaders and managers know how to harness and tap into those years of experience and wisdom.

4. Raise awareness of the importance of shared assumptions

  • Assumptions cause us to run on ‘autopilot’.
  • Supported by assumptions that go unchecked and unchallenged, teams continue to run the same old routines for a long time without anyone noticing.

5. Encourage team members to find out about each other’s roles

  • The more they know about others perspectives, the more likely they will be able to empathise with each other when the going gets tough.
  • Empathy is an important business skill. The ability to put ourselves in another’s shoes helps us understand what others’ needs and motivations are.

6. Intention is very important

  • Intention is just as important as attention. Intention directs attention.
  • Having the whole team form a positive intention around an objective is one of the best ways of doing this.

7. Celebrate successes along the way

  • Making celebration an integral part of the organisational life helps individuals feel more deeply connected to the entity.

8. Invest resources in learning

  • Continuous improvement is only possible when individuals and the team as a whole learn new things.
  • By publicly demonstrating support for the learning process, leaders model the importance of building ‘learning organisations’. This serves everyone in the long run.
  • Establishing learning teams’ is one of the core strategies of running an organisation that is highly adaptable and responsive to change

9. Provide opportunities for sharing ideas during the project-planning phase

  • Getting ‘buy-in’ for a project is much easier when everyone plays an active part in the planning process.

10. Balance ‘top-down’ with ‘bottom-up’ processing

  • This means that directives and guidance from the top must be balanced with feedback and ‘street-level’ information.

When we look at each of these ideas, we see that 2.0 technologies lend themselves to supporting collaboration. With careful planning it is possible to create an Internet based platform that becomes a strategic tool for facilitating collaboration and organisational growth.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

Marketing and Innovation in Managing Skills

Many companies like to boast that employees are their greatest source of competitive advantage, yet the reality is somewhat different. it has become imperative for us to focus not only on how we attract and retain talented people, but also on how we engage them to deliver to our bottom line, to the best of their abilities.

Gone are the days of company loyalty. Talented employees see themselves as mobile and in control of the future of their careers. As the workforce becomes more mobile, gains control of negotiations with employers, the costs of managing and retaining talent intensify because we need to take a strategic approach to attracting talent and managing our competitive advantage.

So where do marketing and innovation fit into the picture?

In their book Marketing Management, Kotler and Keller (2006) say that “Marketing deals with identifying and meeting human and social needs”. The American Marketing Association (2004) defines marketing as “an organisational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organisation and its stakeholders”. The social definition of the role of marketing in society is “a societal process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering and freely exchanging (products and) services of value with others.”

Substitute the word “customer” with “employee” and we see a remarkable similarity in the processes for attracting and retaining talent.

To escape the economically challenged business models that have their roots in a time when talent was plentiful, companies will need to adopt a strategic approach to the HR processes for attracting, retaining and engaging talent through innovation (Hamel 2007). Elements of this approach can be adopted from marketing best practice.

So how could we use innovation and marketing to mitigate the skills shortages?

There are several steps in creating, communicating and delivering value to employees and for managing relationships in ways that benefit the organisation and its stakeholders

Creating value through innovating employee processes

Many organisations have removed themselves from their employees and adopted processes to automate their management and standardise their delivery. This was entirely relevant in a manufacturing world such as we saw in the last century, where the unit we applied to make money was labour. Today, it is intellectual capital that provides competitive advantage. The rules have changed, we are no longer standardising delivery, but amplifying it.

Take a good look at your business. Are you creating sustainable competitive advantage through your most important assets? Have you evaluated and innovated the principles, processes and practices that are based on outdated economic and business environments? Wealth creation will come from ensuring that you get a superior return on your employee investment. This is the product of attracting, retaining and engaging superior skills that are committed to acting in the best interests of your organisation.

Delivering value to your employees

We find ourselves in a very interesting time; just as we see the rise of the power of the knowledge worker as a revenue generating resource, along comes a new technology in the form of web 2.0 which enables us to change the way we manage to get the best return from employees.

The Gartner Group describes web 2.0 as “a transformative force that’s propelling companies across all industries towards a new way of doing business characterised by harnessing collective intelligence, openness and network effects.” We derive value from our employees by engaging with them, delivering the value to them as knowledge workers and motivating them to act in the best interests of the organisation.

The future of how an organisation will derive value from its employees is gathering pace on the web. The Internet is the most adaptable, innovative and engaging thing that human beings have ever created (Hamel, 2007).

The modern role of employee management is to magnify human effort, this is now possible using web 2.0 to get more out of individuals by harnessing their initiative, creativity and passion and then equip them with the tools, incentives and working conditions to compound those efforts in ways that allow human beings to achieve together what they could not do individually.

Grow your employer brand

Critically evaluate your brand from the point of view of potential and existing employees. You may know that you work for a first-rate organisation, but does prospective talent know this and how much credibility does your employer brand have in the market? How can they recognise you as a superior employer above other companies?

In marketing there are three primary ways to communicate your value; advertise it, use compelling public relations and rely on word of mouth. When communicating to your employees and future employees, the best way, is to let them experience it and tell others about it. What better way than to harness the power of 2.0 as a strategic business tool in your organisation?

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Semantics, Web 2.0

Enhancing long term sustainability through 2.0

Sustaining corporate performance is a challenge to most businesses. Many senior executives find it hard to shift their attention away from today’s share price and the next set of results. Fluctuations in exchange rates, rising interest rates, the demands of shareholders, Eskom’s load shedding and the talent crisis has intensified the pressure to focus on short-term performance.

In a series of articles written by McKinseys1, they describe the way companies could take steps to ensure that they perform well in the years to come. Underlying these actions is a mental discipline which they express using the metaphor of human health, which improves when cared for and deteriorates when neglected.

Mental minefields

McKinseys describes three sets of impediments block the way to nurturing health in a corporate context.

The Mindfulness Trap

This is the tendency to be pulled back into a short-term performance perspective by the pressure of daily business.

The Cognitive Trap

This is the preoccupation with the belief that organisational health is soft and intuitive and therefore lacking the tough rigor and precision needed to drive performance. Another cognitive trap assumes that corporate health problems will arise in the unknown future rather than taking hold in the present.

The Self-Knowledge Trap

This is our tendency to say and believe one thing and do another. Managers often see themselves as strategic visionaries, although in practice they spend a remarkably small proportion of their time on anything related to strategy.

Attributes of health

What characteristics must companies have to be truly healthy? It’s important for executives to develop a clear picture of what sound health looks like before they try to embed healthy thinking in a company’s processes and people.

McKinseys identifies 5 characteristics of business health: resilience, execution, alignment, renewal and mutual reinforcement.

These 5 characteristics are not isolated from other influencing factors, such as the macroeconomic environment, the attractiveness of different industries, or luck. They represent a coherent and interrelated set of ideas.

Resilience

Markets can be tough, clients capricious and competitors relentless. Managers must contend with unpredictable disruptions such as financial-market fluctuations, inflation and crime. Healthy companies are practised at spotting and managing key risks, and they build mechanisms and have the resources — cash reserves or backup IT systems — to get through difficult periods.

Execution

Even as companies hedge against external shocks, they need to make good decisions, and perform essential tasks. Brilliant products, clever promotions, or surging markets can obscure sloppy execution for a while. But sooner or later this kind of fragility will be exposed.

Companies that execute well share certain attributes: distinctive capabilities, the ability to make sound and timely decisions, strong forecasting skills and employees who understand their roles and responsibilities.

Alignment

Healthy companies, achieve a cohesive purpose because they have a compelling vision of the future shared by everyone connected with them. They articulate a shared identity that rises above individuals, functions and business units; reflect stakeholder concerns in corporate values; and reinforce the sense of common purpose with formal mechanisms, such as performance contracts.

Renewal

Healthy companies invest in their future by expanding into markets where existing assets and competencies provide real leverage, usually with the help of a winning formula that has been honed from experience and facilitates smooth integration across the entire value chain and the efficient extraction of synergies.

Renewal requires attention to softer issues, such as the ability to attract and retain talent, innovate and adapt to change, both culturally and strategically. Markets and industries move quickly; most companies do not.

Mutual Reinforcement

Organisational practices, such as hiring policies, training programmes, and consistent and mutually reinforcing behavioural incentives act in concert to deliver on the strategic objectives of healthy companies.

Effective communication and collaboration are crucial to ensuring that assets, processes, relationships, and management practices act in concert. Typically, information flows across the organisation, as well as from top to bottom, tapping into social networks beyond the formal organisational structure. Web 2.0 based IT platforms reinforce this kind of communication.

Healthy actions

The discipline of managing tensions among the different characteristics of health requires willingness by the organisation to view the performance system in its full complexity. Vital corporate and individual processes are highlighted by breaking down a company’s resources into separate performance and health components, ensuring a balanced portfolio of strategic and tactical initiatives, integrating that approach into planning and budgeting, identifying metrics for assessing health, and building health into formal performance mechanisms. This will help an organisation to focus routinely and instinctively on the health imperative.

Monitor the way you allocate resources

McKinseys recommend that organisations break down resources into two categories—those devoted to driving performance and those devoted to deriving health. One easy indicator is labour costs: executives should know how many of their employees work on delivering the current operating plan as opposed to looking after the underlying health issues. That way, they can have well-informed conversations about whether or not they are investing resources in a balanced way.

Another indicator is financial spend, by taking all the money going out of the business during a quarter and splitting it into two piles: payments for current operations (expenses necessary to generate that quarter’s revenue) and payments for everything else. The first stack can be defined as performance related; the second represents longer-term investments, excluding in-kind capital replacements. Regularly making these calculations allows executives to see how much IT expenditure, goes toward innovation and R&D (health) and how much toward improving labour productivity (performance). It also allows them to compare the company’s investments in health-related activities (such as brand building, lobbying, and community outreach) with the cost of outsourcing operations to boost profitability (performance).

Balance the strategic portfolio

Companies can keep an eye on their health by regularly assessing their business ideas and new initiatives — projects or programmes to change or improve something in the business. They evaluate these projects both by mapping the point when each would be likely to create the greatest value and by looking at whether a project involves familiar, routine work that plays to their strengths and experiences or is a novel departure, which could be riskier and consume additional resources. Healthy companies keep a balance between the two and know that investing for the long term means action today.

Integrate into core processes

Extending health-oriented strategic thinking into detailed planning and budgeting processes is the next step; an analysis of the underlying health of cash flows should inform traditional budget reviews. Initiate, as a formal part of the performance-management process, a health dialogue that touches on the relevance of investment priorities or the product pipeline to a company’s future performance. Review human-resource allocations and the way executives spend their time .

Have the metrics to match

Many businesses make a religion out of counting their new customers, the growth of their revenues, their financial ratios. But these metrics don’t necessarily measure corporate health, so executives should develop a number of health variables for each of the attributes vital to the health of the business. Resilience, for example could be tested by tracking credit fraud volumes or customer lifetime values. Execution skills could be measured by determining the turnaround time. A company can monitor its alignment by calculating the proportion of its senior managers who disagree about strategies and corporate priorities. To concentrate the minds of its executives, it can test its capacity for renewal by tracking the share of its revenues from new markets and new products and its mutual reinforcement by calculating how much of its revenues come from products and services that span business units and from integrated solutions, or by understanding which policies are counterproductive to strategy. In South Africa , we often see a commitment to BEE undermined by a policy of employing internally first before going to the market. This policy maintains the status quo and doesn’t engender diversity and change

Reinforce through performance

Once a company has redesigned its regular strategic, budgeting, and planning processes to inject a strong dose of “healthy” thinking — and appropriate metrics are in place — executives must embed health in formal people-management mechanisms, including performance contracts, incentives, career path planning, and staffing decisions. Managers at all levels should know the expectations set for them. Companies should use the metrics discussed earlier to structure evaluations ensuring that employees reap rewards as much for doing health-building work as for enhancing performance.

The precise weighting of targets depends on the situation of the individual company and the extent to which it already has struck the right balance between performance and health. The early — and full — involvement of managers in any discussion about adopting this approach is a key prerequisite for success.

Implement and Enterprise 2.0 architecture

Enterprise architecture is the practice of applying a comprehensive and rigorous method for describing a structure and behaviour for an organisation’s processes, communication, IT systems, personnel and organisational structure, so that they align with the organisation’s core goals and strategic direction.

Web 2.0 is a trend in the way we design technology that changes the way we use the Internet to facilitate creativity, information sharing and transparency through collaborative processes and communication. These tools ensure that everyone is exposed to the organisation’s vision, thinking, perception of risk and experience. This mutual understanding leads to greater organisational resilience, execution, alignment and renewal, which in turn leads to healthy organisations which can sustain their performance.

Notes

1 Robert L. Cross, Roger D. Martin, and Leigh M. Weiss, “Mapping the value of employee collaboration,” The McKinsey Quarterly, 2006 and Robert L. Cross, Salvatore Parise, and Leigh M. Weiss, “The role of networks in organizational change,” The McKinsey Quarterly, April 2007.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0, Web Marketing