Tag Archives: Cost

Communicating the benefits of social media to management

One of the reasons take up of social media within organisations is slower than people anticipated, often comes down to justification to management. On one hand you’d think that the relative low cost and overhead of social media deployments would mean take up would be high. On the other hand you are faced with the fears, confusion and status quo highlighted all too often. So what about that pitch to management?

There are a few things to avoid when making your pitch:

1. Don’t claim the tools will look after themselves and not require additional resource.

Let’s face it, both the culture and audience inside an organisation are very different to that on the internet. On the web, tools ‘seem’ to take off by themselves and attract a massive following. That’s because the potential user base is millions and you only need a small percentage to use your service for it to be seen as a success. Also, you can’t imagine any successful movement to take off without someone behind it, quietly (or not) pushing, facilitating and marketing. The same is true in an organisation, you need at least one or two (absolute minimum) passionate people to encourage use and show the way for how social media can be used. Take the wiki gardener role. It’s almost a must have now to identify a resource dedicated (full or part time) to gardening and evangelising the corporate wiki.

2. Don’t focus on looking for systems to retire in place of social media tools.

Most of the tools we discuss and see implemented inside organisations are adopted differently and fill different needs. These tools often provide linkages between other systems and resources or enhance the use of other tools. Not very often (at the moment) do you see swathes of systems being retired due to social media tools. Remember, this is new, so chances are by adopting Enterprise 2.0 you will be doing new things, having new conversations, finding new markets rather than replacing existing systems.

Here are some things you can do to communicate the benefits of Enterprise 2.0:

1. Identify existing processes and story board the impact of social media

It’s easier to relate benefits of new tools within your organisation against existing processes or practices. Take a wiki for example. It’s easy to identify a ton of processes and tasks that can switch to a wiki. Go and find examples like this in your organisation. Or find teams willing to experiment and pilot new ways of working. Then, present this to management.

2. Do quote success stories and industry examples

They are out there if you look. Books like ‘Here Comes Everybody’, ‘Wikinomics’ and ‘The Long Tail’ have some good sound bites. So do the vendors. Vendors are getting really good at capturing and communicating case studies of how their tools are being used and impacting organisations. Use these stories to highlight what’s happening in your industry, and how new tools are already being used by competitors or otherwise.

3. Communicate differently

Try to be different. Much of what we talk about is a change in culture, design and behaviour. Your communication to management should reflect this. Try not to do the boring old PowerPoint and standard pitch. See if you can usher in some of this new culture with your pitch. Obviously if there are standard processes to follow, then do so, but try not to be constrained. Show them you are thinking differently and ready to adapt to emerging trends.

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Not excited yet?

Over on the FASTForward blog there is a post from Bill Ives where he asks “is IT looking over it’s shoulder at web2.0?”. The question is in regards to whether IT are really embracing web2.0 or becoming a victim of this looser and ultimately cheaper operating model. There is one quote from this article stating “We’ve cut IT staff by 20%, and we’re providing a whole lot more in terms of IT services.?

When I first started evangelizing web2.0 /enterprise2.0 I was really eager to have the IT crowd as an audience, as I thought they’d be the first to get excited about this stuff. How wrong I was. Out of all the people I speak to and work with, it’s the IT folk who are the least excited about web2.0 use within a company setting. Even in my own IT department at the time there was only a handful of us who saw the potential in this new breed of tools. However, over time we did find some very supportive IT sponsors and supporters, and it was essential we did as working on web2.0 outside of an IT setting is very tough. Maybe the reason is that this ‘stuff’ doesn’t look like a classic solution to a classic problem. In many cases there is not much to build (if you exclude SOA etc), few need to be involved and classic system lifecycle development does not always apply.

So back to the matter at hand. Can embracing web2.0 really reduce costs and increase revenue? Well think about these examples:

  • You are a big company with a dedicated communications team who write and publish material to the intranet. What would happen if you reduced their publishing time and effort by providing a simple blog? And what if everyone in the company had a way to blog to a central news site? Even the ability to DIGG content they thought was valuable? What about the editing process of internal communications. How about you let the author have control of the message and engage on conversations, rather than pass it through several review cycles before publishing to a static page without the ability for the readers to comment?
  • In this big company you also have a team dedicated to rolling out training and help files to end users via a ‘training portal’. Content is authored, published to the training portal and reviewed at regular intervals by interviewing project teams and gathering user feedback. The material is then revised and re-published. How about placing all this in a wiki, and letting users add to and amend based on their own experiences with the system/process being used. Living and evolving training material in the wiki alongside all other system/process related information, and editable by anyone.

I’m not saying the (two random) examples above will necessarily save money/cut staff, but they would shake things up a bit and turn current models on their head. If nothing else it would cause current roles to be re-purposed and revised to facilitate and nurture this new user contributed model.

BTW, I originally missed the post from Bill, as I’m behind on my RSS feeds due to workload and a whole bunch of other stuff that’s been keeping me away from my laptop. However, as a testament to the power of web2.0 behind the firewall, I picked up a link to the post from the front page of the social bookmarking tool we implemented only a couple of months ago. Thanks for the link Bruce ;)

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Oh to be a small to medium sized business….

I keep telling people that it will be the small to medium sized businesses who will lead the way in enterprise 2.0 adoption and innovation. Today I heard from a number of people, in a number of large companies, about how internal turf wars, agendas or the overall technology strategy is preventing some truly great tools from being deployed.

It’s inevitable really. Big IT departments have been so focused on cost reduction, standardization, a one size fits all approach and a need to show value for money, that the desire/ability to innovate and be flexible has simply been lost (or forgotten).

So my message is to all the innovative SMB’s out there. You can use your size, desire to grow and nimbleness to quickly and efficiently explore what a web 2.0 world can offer you – before your larger competitors do! Of course there will be exceptions, and I personally know of some very large companies deploying enterprise 2.0 tools, but I think the exciting place to be right now is in the SMB market.

Ed: I’m not IT dept bashing, I’ve worked in one and still do to some extent. I’m highlighting the experiences of those around me.

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