Tag Archives: sharepoint

Collaboration for competitive advantage

As many organisations are rolling out enterprise platforms with social media tools like SharePoint 2010 or Spigit Innovation software, they need to look at their ability to optimise collaboration to unlock the power within their knowledge workers.

Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. Many organisations who are exploring the use of social media tools seem to regard collaboration as limited to comments, votes and “likes”. Rather, it needs to be a coordinated effort to reach stated goals.

Collaboration is a repetitive process where people and/or organisations work together to realise shared goals. These goals could be the deployment of a project, development of an innovation or putting together a proposal. This is a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective.

Organisations need to look at their collaboration processes, who should be involved, what the goals are and what information people need in order to ensure that they get the best results.

Up until now we haven’t had the wherewithal to collaborate at scale. Time and geography have often impeded robust collaboration. With the advent of social media and increased quality of data and enterprise technology with social media capabilities, we now have the ability to maximise the collective brain power of our employees.

There are a number of considerations when we embark on collaboration in large enterprises:

– What is the goal we intend to achieve?

– Who is going to lead the collaboration initiative?

– What are the impediments to collaboration? These could include

Access to information and knowledge

Culture and siloed thinking

Anti-collaborative processes, such as corporate governance or policies

– What are the tools we need for collaboration?

Do we need real world space, like boardrooms?

Will other social media tools, like IM, likes, ranks and posts enhance collaboration?

Enterprise platforms can push or recommend information to the users based on the project or the user profile or similar information that has been accessed in the past.

What templates can we develop to enhance collaboration

– Which skills and experiences should be co-opted onto collaborative projects? These could include:

Analytical

Project

Decision

Networking and Negotiation

Industry

Technical

Professional etc.

But of course collaboration is not a panacea for improving how organisations function. Many processes and job functions are repetitive and transactional and require no collaboration at all. Rather, collaborative behaviour will impede the smooth functioning of the organisation. However, it is clear that teams that work collaboratively obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.

It is time that organisations started exercising the collaborative muscle to take on the ever changing market.

Hansen, Morten T “Collaboration” 2009 Harvard Business Press

McKinseys

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, Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, Innovation

Three reasons not to block Facebook in corporates

It always amazes me, when dealing with large corporations, how many of them have blocked access to Facebook. I understand this when people are doing boring, repetitive jobs, but I am seeing it in organisations who employ knowledge workers for their innovation, creativity and their relationship building skills.

When I ask them why, there are usually two reasons; bandwidth and productivity.

Too much time spent on Facebook by employees is not a sign that Facebook is bad. It is an indicator of the level of engagement of an employee. If he wasn’t on Facebook, he would be on the phone or playing solitaire anyway. The cure for too much time on Facebook is to engage the employee whether it is through motivation, training, counselling, changing the level of complexity of the work. Switching Facebook off only serves to send the bored employee elsewhere.

The secret to increasing productivity and bandwidth use is to take a strategic approach to Facebook. Here are three reasons why leaving Facebook on could be good for your company:

  • Employees become real people to your clients;
  • Employees learn about personal branding and how to use other social media; and
  • Employees can endorse your brand by association.

Being real people

The lines between our personal and professional lives are blurring. Facebook is enabling everyone to become more approachable and to build accessible personal brands. By capitalising on this, knowledge workers can develop closer more robust relationships with clients. Research shows that when client relationships are rich, clients are likely to be more tolerant if we make mistakes and will allow us to rectify them. Close relationships with clients often leads to advocacy, when clients actively refer us to other clients. They also shorten sales cycles and make sure that we are in the right place at the right time when our clients need our services.

Using social media and building personal brands

Social media is changing the way enterprises work. It is flattening out organisational hierarchies and is fast becoming a way to improve communication, capture knowledge and enable innovation across the business. The quicker employees learn to use social media tools, the more effectively they will adopt and use enterprise 2.0 tools like SharePoint 2010.

Employees who build strong personal brands can cement stronger relationships within the organisation. Enterprises with strong employee relationships experience lower levels of attrition, and will find it easier to attract and keep good people.

Brand endorsement by association

In their private lives, employees are surrounded by people, either digitally or in the real world, that organisations recognise as their target audience. Intelligent and relevant updates on Facebook , keep people top of mind and ensure they are remembered when people are looking for related services.

If our employees have a strong personal brand, the fact that they work for us adds to the organisational brand.

A word of caution

Facebook and employee branding can be an incredibly powerful tool, used properly, but used badly they are very dangerous. Facebook usage must be monitored for abuse or counter branding. This leads to questions of privacy and employees should be aware that if they have access to Facebook at work, we reserve the right to monitor what they are doing.

Conversely

Happy engaged professionals recognise their role in building our enterprises. They don’t only need to be in the marketing department to participate in growing the brand. Employees with strong personal digital brands from all over the organisation, from finance to operations, can contribute by virtue of association.

If you have switched Facebook off in your organisation, you could start switching it on based on the employees’ digital behaviour and personal brands, or as a reward for great performance. Your access levels to Facebook could be used as a status symbol within the enterprise.

The world is changing and enterprises need to change too, especially in the way they engage with employees. Enterprise 2.0 is about people. The focus needs to be on managing people for optimal productivity through committed employee relationships rather than on managing technology. A strategic approach to Facebook is just the beginning.

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

7 Comments

Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, Facebook, HR Intranet, Web 2.0

Five lessons from crowdsourcing innovation in South Africa

Last year a client approached us to assist them in rejuvenating and creating a new brand for a consultancy which specialises in innovation in the corporate world. The original consultancy had been around for five years and the partners had decided to split up and go their own ways.

Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community, through an open call.

In his book, The rise of crowdsourcing (2006), Jeff Howe established that the concept of crowdsourcing depends essentially on the fact that because it is an open call to an undefined group of people, it gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most relevant and fresh ideas.

We suggested crowdsourcing on Facebook to get our “friends” to contribute to selecting a new name for the company, upon which to build the brand and the innovation profile of our client.

We posted the following message on my status update:

“Get your thinking caps on and win R1000. One of our clients is an Innovation company. They want to use crowdsourcing to find a new name and logo. The company provides practical embedded innovation solutions for corporates. Ideally the name should be as descriptive as possible, alternatively something cool that we can build on. The word “consulting” should not be part of the name.”

We received over a hundred suggestions and eventually my client selected “Innocentrix”.

Despite the fact that we successfully crowdsourced a name for our client, there were some lessons learned along the way. Here are some of our findings and suggestions for why we saw what we did.

Only a small percentage of Facebook users participate

Conventional wisdom has it that there is a 1:10:100 ratio in terms of participation in social media; for every one person who posts, ten are more likely to comment and a hundred will read. Obviously this is a general rule, governed by what is posted and the nature of the audience. Howes maintains that the audience should be undefined. This project was

  • a competition;
  • requiring creativity from my personal Facebook audience of just over a thousand friends;
  • a willingness to participate in a crowdsourcing experiment; and
  • potentially an interest in innovation.

Just over five percent of the audience responded, which lead us to postulate that these governing parameters halved the number of potential respondees. It has to be borne in mind that the audience was also my group of friends on Facebook who are likely to have been at school or varsity with me, or whom I have worked with. They could also be friends of friends and ninety nine percent of them are based in South Africa. This makes the audience more homogenous and defined than the universe of general Facebook users.

Rewarding the audience

Given that five percent responded despite these constraints, this is a higher percentage than we expected. This may be because we offered a monetary reward, and it could also be attributed to the fact that we continually “rewarded” the audiences with updates and thank yous.

Keep updating

Because most people do not keep up with their friends on their “walls” and profiles, but rather on the “newsfeed”, only those friends who were on line at the time of the status update, (or have so few friends that their newsfeed is very limited) would see our posting.

We posted new status updates every two days for a week and managed to solicit a few extra responses, but the initial interest was much greater, which leads us to suspect that those people most likely to respond are on Facebook more often.

Tightening up the brief

During the process we started to identify two trends:

  • the names were either mutations of “innovation” and combinations of words like “Innocentrix”, or
  • they were creative combinations of unrelated concepts like “cracked pepper”.

We attempted to refine the brief, on instruction from our client, to include a name and three associated words like “fast, efficient and creative”. There was a big drop off in the number of responses, which may suggest that we had annoyed our audience by changing horses mid stream. It may also just be that we had exhausted their contributions up front.

Not everyone is willing to share ideas

Crowdsourcing is a relatively new concept brought about by the democratic nature on the Internet, but we noted a marked trend amongst our older respondents to “in-box” me with their suggestions, rather than sharing them in the public domain. One of our respondees even removed all of his suggestions when we announced the winner to prevent them being used in the future.

This was an interesting, successful, non scientific experiment, but a lot more research is required to understand audience behaviour, crowdsourcing and motivation on Facebook in South Africa.

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

11 Comments

Filed under Business, Crowdsourcing, Web 2.0

Social media inside the firewall

Social media has changed the way organisations function forever. Tools including wikis, blogs, social networks and podcasts have become mainstream, forcing corporations to adapt and evolve. How can we benefit from using social media tools inside the firewall?

SharePoint 2010 is becoming ubiquitous in many enterprises, with is broad range of capabilities and features that enable collaboration between organisations and their employees. It features optimised content search, interactive technology and ability to personalise parts of the site which will make it an ideal platform for developing a great Intranet. But precisely because of its interactiveness and personalisation, it is set to change the way enterprises work. For this reason it is critical when implementing SharePoint, or any other interactive Intranet platform, to build it into the organisational DNA.

This necessitates taking into consideration the strategy, how the organisation has been configured to deliver on that strategy; its culture, organisational design, performance management and the operational processes that are in place.

A macro-strategic over hall of the organisation is required, because broken processes and misaligned cultural fits must not be built into the new system. The modern Intranet is so powerful that it will exacerbate any organisational dysfunction.

It requires a brave new approach on behalf of the executives to question the way work gets done, what they need to achieve and the conversations that they are having with their employees.

The Intranet is no longer the domain of the IT division and internal communication team, it belongs to everybody.

The starting point therefore is to write the business case and to translate the optimal organisational strategy into a digital strategy which aligns the people processes and technologies with the overall goals and the roadmap for implementation.

New and more intangible people management processes need to be introduced to increase engagement and manage the changing organisation.

Because the interactive Intranet enables us to surface behaviour, we will also be able to measure organisational performance and manage knowledge on a scale never possible before.

This is an opportunity to innovate and magnify competitive advantage exponentially.

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, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets

The changing role of public relations

There is no doubt that web 2.0 is changing the traditional role of the public relations practitioner.

In the past, PR was all about creating press releases and finding novel ways to get information into the public domain through the media or events etc. In fact for many, PR stood for Press Releases rather than Public Relations, and PR companies could get away with very junior writers who churned out press releases in the background to be spammed to journalists in the hope that they would appear in print somewhere.

These days our relationships with the world are much more directed. Companies need to manage their relationships directly with their audiences, not through disseminated one way messages in third party channels, but through conversations; bilateral, and in some instances multilateral flows of information and knowledge directly with the audience.

Digital curation in the past has been about the selection, preservation, maintenance and collection and archiving of digital assets. It is the process of establishing and developing long term repositories of digital assets for current and future reference.

Assets are what an organisation uses in order to generate revenue, they may be people, material, buildings or brands.

Today one of the most important assets an organisation can have is its relationships. In an attention deficit world, the most effective way to get people’s notice is through trusted relationships. Relationships become trust filters for sifting through what is valuable to know and what should be ignored. So the concept of digital curation is extending beyond the management of the website and social media pages into digital relationship asset creation and management.

It is no longer the job of just one person in the organisation, but in high performance organisations it is the job of everyone in the 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 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, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Semantics, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

The Porous Web

I often see clients who ask me to assist them in developing a web site, potentially in SharePoint 2010 or using some other open source technology. While it is important to have some kind of digital real estate, it is more important to look at how people use the web these days.

From our audience point of view the Internet is one great big environment from which they can consume information, engage with each other and entertain themselves.

Our domain is only one place they can go to to do this, but there are multiple other places. We need to consider the entire environment. The website is only one element of our conversation on line. These days our audiences practise osmosis as they flow from places of low value to high value.

High value is a product of information and context. Information is available everywhere, but if it can’t be found or it does not come from a trustworthy source its value is compromised. So how do we make sure that we deliver high value in this porous environment? We do this by designing our projects around audiences through content architectures, digital geographies, SEO and curatorship.

Content Architectures

Content architectures are thought constructs which examine how we wish to position ourselves in our audience minds, and what we need to say or do in order to achieve this. They require a thorough investigation into our audience’s motivations, worlds-views and environments.

Digital Geography

Digital geography is concerned with where our audiences are, are they on social media sites, looking through lists, browsing or on special interest sites. Do we need to make sure that we have a presence on Facebook, Twitter or that on-line newspaper? What industry forums are they consulting, who are the thought leaders?

SEO

These days, very few people type in the name of our domain to find us, they are far more likely to go to their preferred search engine, whether it be Yahoo, Bing or the ubiquitous Google and type in a search term. If we can’t be found easily, we have wasted our efforts. We need to make sure that whatever we put out there can is as search engine friendly as possible.

Curatorship

Curatorship is the human intervention which adds value. These are trusted sources of information who assemble information and contextualise it. They may be thought leaders, bloggers, on line journalists or even someone inside our own company who engages with our audience or who they follow or engage with to filter the masses of information out there and make it easy to consume.

Far too many companies develop website strategies, but to create competitive advantage in the digital world, we should rather create digital strategies which encompass the entire digital milieu.

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

74 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Facebook, Google, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Ensuring that employees have the web tools they need to manage an interactive website

The modern website is a critical tool for engaging with and serving customers and other stakeholders. We need to ensure that we equip our employees with the right tools to continue their day to day actions to manage the organisation’s relationships and support the brand.

A website essentially serves three functions:

  • Provide information
  • Automate processes; and
  • Deliver services.

In order to ensure that the right tools are available, we start by looking to the organisational and divisional strategies asking questions like

  • What is the vision and mission?
  • What does the organisation do?
  • How does it do it?/What are the key process?
  • Which competencies and skills do we have?
  • What products and services do we offer?
  • Where are our markets?

Having examined these key areas, we then start to translate the answers into a Digital Strategy, by asking questions like:

  • Where can we enhance these products and services using the web?
  • What processes can be automated?
  • What digital products could we provide?
  • What are customers looking for?
  • Are there any additional markets and geographies that we could serve through the web?
  • How does our brand translate digitally?
  • Which other technologies (Geographical Information Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning Systems etc.) do we have which can enhance our digital offerings?

The we look at what web tools could be created to assist the employees to enhance their work through the web and what do they need to be able to do? For example:

  • If they need to be able to post events to a calendar, should there be various views, by event type, by date, month, day etc.
  • If events must be created, they need to give the date, an expiry date (after which the event won’t be visible in the current view) a title, a description, a date, a venue, key words/tags so that the event can be searched, RSVP, share on social media sites, the ability to synch into the viewers’ Outlook calendar etc.
  • Press releases need headings, introductions, the body of the text, release date, meta-data for searches, downloadable pictures etc.
  • Blogs need a heading, the body, meta data, tag clouds, share on social media sites, defined audiences using key words such as type of audience, geography, interests, profile etc, who can comment. Wiki’s could be similarly designed.

There are many universal tools that can be made available to employees who should be allowed to use them using permission based access.

When enabling employees to interact directly with customers, the same care must be taken as in the real world to make sure that they act in the best interests of the organisation. With the web we suggest that policies and procedures, content architectures and on line brand iconography guidelines be developed.

The core processes need to be mapped or redefined for the web. Examine who requires the automated process (could we use Geographical Information Systems or Profiling to customise his view?), where they will find it (what meta data will help in the search?), where other technologies will be integrated (Where do we get data about an account e.g. SAP?), how do we route queries? Should we use SMS’s or eMails to let the user know how far we are in the process? etc.

The next phase is to review our services. Could we create additional value for our audience by providing digitised products such as templates, calculation tools etc.

The modern website provides endless opportunities to surprise and delight our stakeholders, by giving it some careful thought we can also enable self service and reduce our costs of delivery.

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

4 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0, Web Marketing