Tag Archives: Process

Know what you want before embarking on BI projects

Businesses are facing more sophisticated competition in the market every day and the race is on to constantly deliver higher levels of customer service. Delivering better customer service first requires a greater insight into customers’ preferences and behaviours. Social media is a good source of additional behavioural data. This is a sound basis to develop a strategy for retaining those customers who are best suited to the organisation, while “incentivising” those customers not suited to the business, to switch to the competition.

While many organisations do not know where to start gathering information about their customers, others know exactly where this information resides- hidden in the company’s data and call centre stores and locked in sales and marketing databases, on social media sites and in back-end financial systems.

The irony is that while many organisations possess this information, it is often not usable. Companies that attempt to use this information in its ‘tangled’ format soon give up, pleading ‘data-overload’. Business intelligence (BI) gives organisations the ability to unravel the hidden knowledge in this knotted data and deliver actionable insights to the decision makers.

But implementing a strategy is not a simple task of acquiring some software, pointing it at the relevant stores of data and expecting answers to begin rolling out. In order to achieve success with a BI project a company needs to consider its key business goals and the actions that it needs to take to deliver on these objectives efficiently and effectively. BI provides the bridge between the goals and the performance. For example it delivers the insights required to enhance customer relationships through effective interactions with customers in terms of both content and medium, it streamlines the distribution of goods and services through demand forecasting, or it can reduce risk by predicting fraud or identifying consumer attacks on your brand.

With a clear understanding of how BI will underpin the business’ delivery goals over the long-term, an organisation must ensure that the supporting data has a high level of relevance and integrity and that it is intimately understood. This will ensure that it will be effectively and efficiently interrogated so as to deliver meaningful insights that can be actioned across the organisation, with the resultant outcomes being tracked and measured over time.

Best practise dictates that the company’s customer data is centralized into a single, accessible and useable repository and then analyse it. Sales data should be linked to marketing data and combined with all other data related to customer interaction, including data from back-end financial systems so that a customer centric-view of the customer can be created. This in itself is a huge advantage for the organisation, since it will identify the same customer in all his guises across the organisation’s data stores and present a consolidated view of the company’s transactions and interactions with each unique customer. To further enhance this data as a platform for analysis, it should also be enriched with relevant external market data, including key demographic variables and the like.

Having built the necessary data repository and ascertained the required insights from the analysis function to support the strategy of the business, the analysis should commence with five simple objectives in mind: who; what; why; when and where.

The ‘question’ or ‘end-goal’ could be, for example, to identify: who the ideal customers are after incorporating any hidden costs associated with servicing them. Then one can plan on incentivising or engaging with customers with these same characteristics to begin doing business with the company and encourage the non-ideal customers to move to competitors.

A good first step to this process is to analyse the company’s revenue streams and build an ideal client portfolio around each of those revenue streams, taking into consideration the fixed, variable and hidden costs associated with these revenue streams. It is imperative that the entire organisation is involved in this process.

Sales, social media behavioural data, marketing, manufacturing, procurement, delivery and management input is key to the successful implementation of a BI project and ensures that the results gained from a BI initiative are actionable across the organisation.

It is imperative that the company has the appetite to act on findings. It is pointless embarking on a fact finding mission, like that involved in a BI process, if the business is not prepared to respond to those findings by investing in or re-engineering business processes.

When it comes down to it, BI only presents real value to an organisation if the integrity of the underlying data is sound, the data is intimately understood and the organisation is prepared to action the findings. It is only after “actioning” these findings that the organisation will begin maximising the benefit from attracting and retaining ideal customers, reducing costs and ultimately becoming more profitable.

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, Facebook, Google, Internet, Web 2.0

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

The Role of the Intranet in the Modern Organisation

The Modern Intranet is changing the way that organisations conduct business, providing them with operational support, employee profiling, transparency and collaboration abilities that we have not seen before. As an integral part of how an organisation operates day to day, the Intranet should essentially serve five purposes:

  • Decision Support
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Innovation
  • Learning
  • Employee Engagement

Decision Support

Organisational flux, rising competitive pressures and the expanding global reach of many organisations place a premium on information that helps executives to make the decisions required to manage a company. New demands for transparency from stakeholders and regulators magnify the need for better and more timely information.

The Intranet needs to provide two kinds of decision support;

  • pull support when executives actually go out and look for the information they need in order to make decisions; and
  • push support where the information is pushed to the executive by way of creating awareness, or educating or as an early warning status which requires action.

Pull Support

When people need to make decisions, they need to have access to the latest information, be able to find the most up to date version of the document, relevant reports etc.

Document management used to be the domain of the individual on his own C-drive (and prior to that in his filing cabinet), later documents were posted to share drives in whatever categorisation made most sense to the individual. Gradually project managers started imposing some structure on the share drive and people began using the shared information to inform their decision making.

Today’s business environment has become infinitely more complex and it has become necessary for people, not only to look for what they need based on how they expect the information to be categorised, but to be able to actively search using key words on the Intranet.

It is possible, using the modern Intranet, to enable employees to surface the information they require to make decisions based on a search functionality as well as individual profiling. This means that if one employee is profiled as a “marketer” and another as a “technologist”, when they search for documents and type in the words “networking event February” the marketer will get the latest plan for a breakfast she organised for senior staff members to network with clients, and the techie will get a list of disruptions on the company network during the month of February.

Push Support

Push support is generally in the forms of RSS feeds which are set up in order to ensure that the latest relevant information from outside the organisation is reaching the right executive. This may be economic data, technology development, trends analysis etc.

Push support also includes aggregated information about the company in the form of regularly updated news portals or progress reports etc.

Knowledge Management is also an important part of decision making. All to often companies deploy knowledge management tools without thinking about the kinds of decisions it may support.

Risk Mitigation

In order to be fully equipped to make any decision it is clear that the executives and employees need to have the correct information at the correct time. Care must be taken with version control and other document management activities to ensure that this is the case.

Company Policies are also incredibly important when it comes to risk mitigation and of course the documentation pertaining to governance must be easily findable and accessible on the Intranet.

It is also important to build corporate governance into the operational processes on the Intranet. For example if certain people may not speak on behalf of the organisation, they should not be able to post on the corporate blog, some employees might need to be moderated and some actively encouraged to create thought leadership blogs etc.

Risk can also be mitigated by building flags into the Intranet, for example when a senior engineer resigns, anyone who is working on a project with her is immediately notified and can proactively co-opt a new resource onto the project. Another example could be when a supplier has let the company down, that the system alerts the accounts manager that there may be a delay on delivery to the client.

Innovation

We all know that the pace of change is rapidly increasing and the Intranet is a fabulous collaboration tool for different employees from different parts of the organisation to become aware of Innovation projects and participating in innovating into the future.

Well designed Intranets let the employees attach all the related documentation to the Innovation project as well as the profiles of the individual participants, so that in future this data can be interrogated to understand the innovation process or to identify people will great innovation skills. This is a great knowledge management tool.

Learning

The Intranet can incorporate workflow which enables the employees to identify gaps in their knowledge and to book themselves on courses. It can provide on-line material and the succession plan can also be built into the individuals profile as they learn and progress through the organisation.

Employee Engagement

The Intranet is a fantastic tool for connecting and communicating with employees, whether it is providing them with interesting content, rewarding them for contributions or enabling them to see how they are performing or just letting them network and up-skill each other within professional communities of interest.

The ability to profile employees leads to all kinds of opportunities from improving their search experience, enabling people to find certain skills within the organisation.

The days when an Intranet was a nice to have are gone. The modern Intranet is a critical strategic and operational tool which no medium to corporate business or public sector organisation should be without.

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, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Semantics, Web 2.0

Meeting the Challenges of Collaboration

Knowledge workers are individuals who are valued for their ability to interpret information within a specific subject area and advance the overall understanding of that subject through focused analysis, design and/or development. Fuelled by their expertise and insight, they solve problems, in an effort to influence company decisions, priorities and strategies. The term was first coined by Peter Drucker in 1959, as one who works primarily with information or one who develops and uses knowledge in the workplace.

When working with knowledge workers, we seek to aggregate their value by enabling them to collaborate on behalf of the organisation, to innovate or solve problems better than they could each have managed individually. Increasingly emphasis is also being put on collaboration as a means of informal learning and knowledge exchange between people. So how do we encourage employees to make use of the tools available and enable collaboration across departments and borders?

Well, the first step is to identify where employees should be collaborating, why they should collaborate and make sure that collaboration does not become collaboration for collaboration’s-sake.

The need to collaborate should arise out of the organisation’s strategic intent. We need to ask ourselves the following questions: In order to attain its strategic goals, what does the organisation need to do – innovate, develop, or cost cut? Will collaboration enhance the ability to meet the objective? For example if an FMCG company has a pharmaceutical brand for which the patent is about to expire, it may choose to cost-cut in order to compete on a commodity basis with other generics that are coming into the market, or it could work on developing a new product, what about innovating a different method of ingestion?

Each of these strategic imperatives would require a different type of collaboration:

  • For cost cutting the pharmaceutical factory manager might need to collaborate with one of the FMCG factories to reduce the cost of packaging by consolidating production runs.
  • If a new product needs to be developed then the research scientists based around the globe may need to collaborate to bring new research into the mix.
  • Should they decide to change the ingestion means, perhaps the scientists need to collaborate with a nano-technology company.

Only once we have identified why we are collaborating and with whom, can we address the challenge, which is finding the right mix of tools that spur collaboration as employees strive to meet the business requirements.

When organisations look at solutions to optimise collaboration, the best idea may be to take the approach of mixing something proven and familiar with something new. Successful approaches to collaboration have to embrace people’s current work processes, while also supporting a transition over time to additional strategies that further refine collaboration.

Many organisations are finding ways to give knowledge workers the web based tools they want to use for collaboration today, while providing the means to incorporate additional strategies for addressing future collaboration requirements.

Technology Adoption

The fundamentals or hygiene factors when it comes to expecting users to adopt any technology, including collaboration tools, include ensuring that the technology is useful, easy to use and makes the user look good.

  • Usefulness – If the chain is broken between the organisational objectives, the individual’s key performance areas and collaborative behaviour, then there is no way that the knowledge worker is going to use any collaboration technology, no matter how sophisticated. He just won’t see the point.
  • Ease of Use – If the collaboration technology is tricky to use, requiring complex user names and difficult to remember passwords, or keeps falling over, then your knowledge worker is going to find other ways of collaborating, for example by sending eMails or using the phone. This negates the benefits of collaboration technology because the data and evidence from the interaction are not captured and you will not be able to learn from the collaboration nor analyse why it was successful or not, in other words you will have lost the organisational memory.
  • Make the user look good – The collaboration technology must make the user look good and enable him to build his personal brand and build recognition for his contribution. This is achieved through creating validating employee profiles with blogs or awards or participation in forums etc., whatever is appropriate to the individual and the organisation.

Getting Ready to Collaborate

In his book Collaboration (2009) Morten Hansen explains the necessary conditions for collaboration to take place effectively across organisations, or between organisations and their stakeholders. He suggests unifying people, cultivating what he calls T-shaped management and building nimble networks.

  • Unifying People – When unifying people Hansen suggests crafting an explicit common goal for the collaborators.
  • Cultivating T shaped management has to do with fostering a high-collaboration high-performance culture. He talks about low-collaboration high-performance employees as lone-stars and suggests that in the long term they may not be good for innovation because they don’t share knowledge and experience with other team members which could surface hidden opportunities.
  • Building nimble networks has to do with the formation of the right kinds of cross unit personal relationships to help identify and capitalise on opportunities.

Using the Interactive Web for collaboration

Whether the collaboration is required between employees within an organisation on the corporate intranet, externally between a company and its stakeholders on an extranet or with clients and potential customers on web based applications and websites, the process of collaboration should follow that of the strategy.

First of all we need to make sure that the web application that we are using for collaboration is useful. Why are we collaborating, what do we want to achieve, how will we know when we have achieved it? What do we need to provide the users in order to ensure that our collaboration tool is fit-for-purpose? Do they need a content management tool, a document management system, a collective set of taxonomies to facilitate search? Maybe they require an integrated project management tool and a wiki.

Then we need to decide what we need to equip the collaborators with in order for the collaboration tool to be easy to use. What should the process for collaboration be? What is the most intuitive way to work together? What should the user experience and interface be? etc.

Finally and very importantly, what will make the collaborator look and feel good? Is he the type of the person who works for explicit awards? Is she very proud of her education? Who needs an audience to demonstrate that he is a thought leader? To whom is a title important?

Each individual requires a personal profile which they can populate to a greater or lesser degree. Some people may only want contact details and access to the project plan and documentation, others may feel that their past experiences have bearing on the project. Some people may have a more relaxed approach to the line between socialising and work, take for example a new mother who has been asked to assist a company in the design of a new kind of nappy for newborns. While she is telling the company that she feels the elastic should be broader around the legs, she may want to share baby photos with the other mums in the nappy design collaboration group.

Knowledge workers are human too

The important thing to remember is that collaboration is to do with sharing, developing and communicating to achieve a common goal. The tools we need to give people to facilitate collaboration should make their jobs easier and more intuitive and their efforts to reach the common goal more effective. This requires a lot of thought investment into getting it right so that we really get more out of people working together than we would have out of each working on his own.

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 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

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

The Ergonomics of 2.0

Web 2.0 represents a fundamental change in the way that people interact, collaborate and perform in the 21st century. It has become necessary to review the way we think about many other business disciplines in response to this structural change in the way we could do business. In this article we look at the ergonomics and contextualise it in the web 2.0 environment.

Ergonomics is defined as the application of scientific information concerning objects, systems and environment for human use (International Ergonomics Association, 2007). The term ergonomics is derived from the Greek words ergon – work and nomos – natural laws.

Ergonomics is commonly thought of as how companies design tasks and work areas to maximise the efficiency and quality of their employees’ work. However, ergonomics comes into everything which involves people. Well designed working environments embody sound ergonomics principles; this includes web 2.0 enabled employee management and engagement systems.

The goal of ergonomics in the 21st century, in a 2.0 environment, should be to make the interaction of humans with humans and technology as smooth, intuitive and enabling as possible, enhancing the adoption of the system, improving performance, reducing error and increasing user engagement through comfort and aesthetics.

Cognitive ergonomics

Cognitive ergonomics in the 2.0 environment concerns mental processes such as perception, attention, cognition and collaboration as they affect interactions among humans and other elements of a system, for example – diagnosis, decision making, innovation, project management and planning. It focuses on the complex, cognitive thinking and knowledge-related aspects of system performance. Cognitive ergonomics enhances cognitive tasks by:

  • Adopting a user-centred design of human-technology interaction
  • The design of information technology and applications that support cognitive tasks
  • The development of human mentoring, training and development programmes
  • Work redesign to manage cognitive workload and increase skills optimisation
  • (Social) Network and collaboration oriented application design

Macro-ergonomics

Macro-ergonomics is concerned with the optimisation of socio-technical systems, including organisational structures, policies, virtual spaces and processes. Relevant topics include virtual time and space scheduling, job satisfaction, motivational theory, supervision, risk mitigation, culture, teamwork, network and ethics.

Macro-ergonomics is concerned with the analysis, design and evaluation of work systems. The design of any job in a work system should focus on work modules, resource networks, tasks and knowledge, capacity and skill requirements. Other factors to consider in job design include the degree of autonomy, identity, variety, meaningfulness, feedback and social interaction. This is where web 2.0 technologies are increasingly playing a role in organisations.

Virtual ergonomics

The use of web 2.0 technologies in the business environment necessitates that we optimise human interactions in the virtual world in order to increase collaboration and productivity.

Digital Bridges has adopted the term “Virtual ergonomics” for an approach to ergonomics that emphasises a broad system view of design, organisational environments, culture, diversity and work goals in the 2.0 context. It deals with the design of collaborative interfaces and applications and the virtual environment. It focuses on the nexus of strategy, process, people, environment and technology and the consequences for competitive advantage and productivity.

It also deals with the optimisation of the designs of organisational and work systems through the consideration of employees, technological and environmental variables and their interactions. The goal of virtual ergonomics is an efficient work system at both the macro- and micro-ergonomic level which results in improved productivity and employee satisfaction and commitment.

We can thus see that while web 2.0 is an enabling technology, it is still merely a business tool. Through the application of certain strategic disciplines such as virtual ergonomics, it can be harnessed as an effective tool in order to optimise the benefits of collaboration for wealth generation and sustained competitive advantage for businesses.

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 Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0

Using BI to analyse organisational networks provides valuable insights

Organisational network analysis is the use of Business Intelligence (BI) on the relationships, processes, workflow and exchanges between employees. It can be used by businesses to identify potential opportunities or disruptions.

Work is routinely conducted between employees, partners and customers without a clear understanding of the roles that people play in the organisational network or quantifying the exchanges that occur.

Interactive Intranets provide employees with their own profiles and access to web 2.0 apps such as wikis, blogs, instant messaging, document sharing and other collaborative tools. Companies that have interactive Intranets, can capture and analyse data as their employees work and use it to understand the hidden economic patterns within the organisation.

Organisational network analysis explores the constraints, connections, communication and information flows between individuals, or nodes, in a network. Businesses can use organisational network analysis to develop strategies by identifying, amplifying and exploiting business patterns and capitalising on opportunities that emerge.

There are three variations of organisational network analysis that organisations can use to develop strategies.

  • Employee Analysis

Determines which employees are critical to business performance, overcommitted or bottlenecks to getting work done, or untapped sources of insight. Companies can identify which employees are maximising their performance by collaborating effectively across the functional silos in the organisation.

They can also understand the real processes as they actually manifest themselves during the employees’ working day, rather than as they are designed to work. Very often employees adapt processes to work for them, this may suggest more practical ways to get the work done, but it might also indicate hidden risky practise.

  • Influence analysis

Here we identify influential people, associations or trends. This can help an organisation understand which employees are most influential or competent so that they have a higher presence in the organisation. It can surface recruitment and attrition patterns which could influence the culture of the organisation and the effectiveness of its design.

  • Economic Analysis

This examines the transactions and relationships that create economic value. It can help an organisation understand which stakeholders in their value networks (suppliers, partners, coalitions) are meeting their performance commitments. The relationship between value and time can be examined and greater efficiencies be built into the work environment.

This is analysis can be used to optimise the allocation of people, processes and information as new patterns emerge. It also supports a performance-driven culture, by focusing on lead indicators and using measurable results to drive behaviour.

Organisational network analysis provides intelligence about the networks on which businesses depend to achieve performance goals by providing tools with dashboards that summarise key parameters.

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 Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, Interactive Intranets, Semantics, Web 2.0