The five enterprise challenges solved by social collaboration tools

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Over the past decade, social media has become a natural, and sometimes necessary, part of many people’s lives. Social media has made it easier for people to keep in touch with distant family and friends, share everyday stories by uploading pictures and videos, crowd source information and more.

Despite our reliance on social media in our personal lives though, enterprises have only recently begun to opt in to this new era of online social culture. But social networking in the workplace doesn’t just mean that your company is active on Facebook and Twitter. By utilising social collaboration tools built specifically for the enterprise, organisations are investing in their employees’ productivity and providing them with better access to the tools and information they need to succeed at their jobs.

In addition to making employees’ lives easier, social collaboration platforms can help organisations tackle five major challenges:

Challenge 1: Enabling collaboration to increase productivity

Much of the opportunity in developing the mobile apps of the future lies in enabling real-time productivity. To be most productive, employees need social and content elements to be integrated into the business tools and apps they’re already using such as SharePoint, Jira, Salesforce, and others. For example, a company may create an app specifically for its upcoming employee conference to make it easy for employees to access pertinent information, like schedules and breakout descriptions, in one place. Ideally, an app like this should also include social elements so that employees can collaborate in real-time during the event.

Executive leadership hasn’t traditionally had an easy way to foster two-way communication across departments and job roles

Philips, a diversified health and well-being company, created a similar app for its employees and has seen great success. Their employee events app is connected with the Socialcast community and allows participants to interact with each other in real-time and easily discuss the content of the event. For each event, speaker information and participant lists are directly loaded from the relevant Socialcast group to present a rich profile (including profile picture) for each speaker and participant. This is hugely helpful for event managers as this means that they do not have to enter all the participant details manually. Overall, the employee events app has saved significant amounts of time and money for Philips simply by bringing information together in one place and presenting it cleanly in a mobile app.

Challenge 2: Fostering a strong sense of culture and community

To perform their best, employees need to feel like they are part of a community and that they are contributing meaningful work. All too often though, employees feel disconnected from the goals and objectives of their organization and are unclear on how they fit in or whether their work is making a difference.

Social collaboration tools give every employee a voice, form open lines of communication between executives and employees and help align executive teams, managers and employees in a shared vision. Other common features in social collaboration platforms, like the ability to publicly recognize colleagues for their contributions and create groups to encourage peer-to-peer collaboration, lead to a workplace with deeply engaged communities and employees who feel connected to the global organisation.

Challenge 3: Distributing multimedia files

Sending a video file to a colleague should be as easy as uploading to YouTube, but in reality, sharing large media files within an organisation – especially when those files are confidential or require extra security – is often a cumbersome and unreliable task. Employees have traditionally relied on email to send media files, but this usually clogs up their own and their colleagues’ inboxes and the company’s server. More recently, employees have started sending large corporate files via consumer-grade content sharing tools like Dropbox. This solves the problem of clogged inboxes, but data security remains a major issue, and there typically isn’t one standard tool used across the organisation.

Employees need to feel like they are part of a community to perform at their best

Social collaboration systems can not only help eliminate the need for these bulky emails, but they can also integrate with consumer and enterprise storage products to pull in content from multiple repositiories and store it in one secure location. By using a social collaboration tool to share and store content, organisations get the benefits of data protection, and users get the benefit of convenience since they don’t have to search several different network and storage sites to find a specific file. Employees can easily upload documents, presentations and media files for everyone to see and discuss, and they can tag colleagues in a post if they need to take immediate action.

Challenge 4: Tapping into collective knowledge and expertise

In many organisations, ideas come from the top and are disseminated down, without any real chance for discussion. It’s not that these companies don’t value employee feedback and ideas, but executive leadership hasn’t traditionally had an easy way to foster two-way communication across departments and job roles. With social collaboration tools, organizations and executives can break down these barriers and make it easy for anyone within the organisation to submit ideas and feedback.

Another issue that is common in today’s workplace is that employees face “information overload” and waste time tracking down the right resources and experts they need to get reliable information. Social collaboration tools address this challenge by giving all employees the opportunity to engage subject matter experts and harness the collective knowledge of employees. The ability to communicate in real-time and crowd-source feedback makes it easier for staff to get answers to questions, solve problems and avoid reinventing the wheel.

Much of the opportunity in developing mobile apps of the future lies in enabling real-time productivity

3M was one company that was having difficulty fostering collaboration, mainly because its research labs were scattered across the globe. By implementing a social collaboration network, 3M successfully created the experience of working in “one big lab,” where employees could find a more direct path to information and expertise that helped solve problems in real time.

Challenge 5: Understanding end user habits and needs

To help employees reach their potential, organisations have to first understand how employees work best and the resources they need most. Most social collaboration tools offer robust analytics that email can’t provide on trends and user adoption patterns. By gaining insight into the topics and ideas that are most important to employees, organisations can understand the social dynamics within a company and better engage, motivate and reward their employees.  

Employees also benefit from the analytics within social collaboration tools. Just like content curation tools like Flipboard supply consumers with the day’s top content, many social collaboration tools can give employees a look into the trending conversations and pieces of content within their organisation.

Implementing a social collaboration platform is a powerful way for enterprises to solve these common organisational issues, foster collaboration and create a greater sense of engagement. By allowing employees to interact with colleagues and with social tools in the same way they’ve already been doing in the personal lives, social collaboration networks are fundamentally transforming the way people work together, learn and communicate in the workplace.

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Phillip
3 Apr 2015, 3:59 p.m.

Once came across infographics that showed how employees tend to devote more time to work outside work hours due to using enterprise apps: http://thetechpanda.com/2013/03/18/facts-about-social-intranet-and-small-businesses-infographic
Interesting!

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