Archived – Rapid Start For Social Business White Paper
current draft of the paper is here – http://www.w3.org/community/socbizcg/wiki/File:SBCG_White_Paper_1.doc
A work product of the W3C Social Business Community Group
- Introduction: The Roots of Social Business
- The challenge of Social Business
- Definition: What Is Social Business?
- Pieces For Constructing a Social Business
- Creating the social graph
- Setting up profiles…
- The role of security
- The impact of mobile
- The On Ramp: Where to start ?
- Organization and its Role
Goal of document:
Social business is a fairly new topic, people want to understand how this could impact their business and why they should care. This should be an onboarding document – how do I get into this social game ?
The target audience are people who are interested in emerging approaches to using social technologies to help their businesses and customers. These businesses cross every industry whose primary technologies and processes most likely pre-date even the internet and operated without it. We need to correct the thought that Social Business equals some kind of Facebook for business. We will probably have three types of readers: 1) those who have not started 2) those who have started but are looking for help to go further 3) those who have started and are a ways down the road…but are looking to see if they did it “the right way”.
Chapter 1 Introduction: The Roots of Social Business
[Alberto Manuel is working on this section]
The world we live in today that includes hyper-connectivity, ubiquity, knowledge sharing, Enterprise 2.0 and the emergence of social platforms to support interaction between individuals, as also the effect of organizational flattening could not be possible without key events that occurred.
There are the drivers of those events shaped the way we are used today to socialize, independently if is for personal or business purposes. Social business did not occur because some management experts predict it, or want it, because induced efficiency the way work was carried and increase customer connectivity. It happened due technological transformations that created shifts.
Social business is highly coupled with the concept of the networked enterprise. All these changes towards the networked enterprise where sparked by globalization in the early 90’s. Contrary to what we might think, globalization was not an autonomous social or market movement. It was triggered by government policies that abolished trade barriers and introduced liberalization in industry sectors. These two inner forces: free trade and liberalization increased information flows between companies and between financial institutions that were primarily interested in information systems that would promote the acceleration required by stock markets and derivatives. Yet, neither technology nor business could have been developed the global economy on their own.
The agents that set global economy where governments by the adoption and implementation of market deregulation (started by financial markets), liberalization of international trade and investment, and privatization of public companies. These policies began in the USA in mid 70’s and spread to UK in 80’s and in European Union latter. Thus when we reached the 90’s we were living in a globalized world.
Deregulation of the financial markets, was driven by development of technological infrastructures (telecommunication and information systems), combined with computer power capable of the high speed algorithms processing required to handle the complexity of financial transactions. Other factor was system integration necessary to support financial flows moving inside a myriad of systems. When we look today the possibilities of jumping from multiple systems without effort (for example handling claims with consumers using Facebook in a CRM) that was only possible by the huge integration demand from financial industries that was roll out and adopted by other industries.
Hence, here we are integrated in a networked enterprise carrying on our daily work, surrounded by information and new technology that become an integral part of all human activity. As the morphology of the network seems to adapt to increasing complexity of social interaction, new trends and tools arise shaped to the nature of our cognition. Technology is changing the nature of work and companies need to adapt to the new working patterns, some induced by new generation of workers that are used to different communication approaches and want to use it inside of the companies they work for.
Chapter 2 The Challenge of Social Business
[Alberto Manuel is working on this section]
Business has always been social. The impetus behind the creation of technology for business is to create better ways of doing business. The 1800’s saw the creation of standardized time to coordinate events, canals and railroads decreased the cost of shipping. Before the internet, standards for intermodal shipping and electronic data interface Social business did not occur because some management experts predict it, or want it. It is coming about because social business is emerging as a new set of processes and standards to enable the discovery of new relationships as well as new ways of coordinating processes and collaborative problem solving with existing business relationships.
Social technologies are becoming a technological fabric that other applications sit on.
Hence, here we are, integrated in a networked enterprise carrying on our daily work, surrounded by information and new technology that become an integral part of all human activity. As the structure of the network adapt to increasing complexity of social interaction, new trends and tools arise shaped to the nature of our cognition. Terms like social CRM, social BPM, Activity Streams and others are making part of our daily lives due the pervasiveness of effects of new technology that shapes new management philosophy and frameworks. Technology is changing the nature of work and companies need to adapt to the new working patterns, some induced by new generation of workers that are used to different communication approaches and want to use it inside of the companies they work for.
This shift is putting pressure on companies and individuals. What are the best social tools to work with regarding the nature of the work that is carried? Should companies prescribe pre-defined tools, or empower users to freely choose what they consider best to support knowledge management? What about security or privacy issues? How can we increase task productivity? What is the best balance of worker/system letting human potential for reasoning and adaptation to changing business conditions? What about time that can be lost due misuse of social tools for entertainment or personal use? If customers are taking control of interactions how can we integrate social tools in customer relationship processes? What kind of tools customers are willing for? Why companies need to adapt to the social paradigm? These are the challenges that we want to address in this document.
Chapter 3 What is Social Business?
The ways in which individuals and communities interact, form relationships, make decisions, accomplish work, and purchase goods are fundamentally changing—causing a significant shift in the way business is done. With people interacting in fundamentally new ways, organizations have the opportunity to rethink every core business process in which people are involved. A shift from structured processes that never considered the way people interact to more-fluid processes that take advantage of the social aspect of work are now possible. IDC reports that organizations are recognizing that its people—customers, employees, business partners, and suppliers—are emerging as the most valuable assets to business and that informal, unstructured, easy-to-use communication tools improve productivity.
A business that leverages social to shift its business processes to facilitate innovation, collaboration, and engagement is a social business. A Social business as one that applies social networking tools and culture to business roles, processes, and outcomes to create business value. By activating networks of people that apply relevant content and expertise to improve and accelerate how things get done, a social business can deliver unprecedented return for the time invested.
Becoming a social business is not simply a matter of deploying social networking technologies or improving your presence on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. It means redefining the business to center on people and the relationships among them. A social business recognizes that people do business with people and so it optimizes how people interact to accomplish organizational goals:
• Deeply connects individuals in productive and efficient ways
• Provides line-of-sight across traditional boundaries to better align actions to needs
• Speeds up business with insight to anticipate and address evolving opportunities
Gaining benefits from social business requires a long term strategic approach to shaping a company’s culture and is highly dependent on executive leadership, close partnering between business and IT, and the organizational ability to accept transformation and cultural change.
In the next chapter, some individual social technologies will be defined. It is neither essential nor necessary for a business to implement or even possess every one of the technologies mentioned to be considered a social business.
Chapter 4 Social Business Technology Building Blocks
It is fair to assume, given today’s online world, that software tools play an integral part of providing an ecosystem where a social business can flourish.
- instant messaging
- activity streams
- UI components
Chapter 6 Creating The Social Graph
According to Wikipedia, a social graph “has been described as “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related”. This particular definition is well suited to social networking sites that connect people with people, but it misses the potential business uses of social graphs, where people are not just related to other people, but are also related to objects.
Perhaps a better business definition of a “social graph” is any data structure that is capable of indicating associations between different objects, where the objects can be people, documents, activities or any other item that might appear in the business world.
Social graphs tend to be divided into the concept of “nodes” and “relationships”. Nodes tend to be the objects in the space – documents, activities, processes, people, etc. and relationships tend to either be actions, roles or descriptions of interest that “connect” the two objects.
As an example of the most basic social graph, the following sentence describes a social graph with two objects related by a single relationship:
- John monitors the bank application
The two objects, in this case, are John and the bank application and the relationship is “monitors”.
Social graphs can become significantly more complex than a basic node-relationship-node models depending on the questions that need to be answered from the social graph. Often times, different social technologies will utilize different types of graphs in order to “answer” questions specifically asked of that social technology. Each social tool tends to want to create and control its own graph structure.
In addition to the social graph itself, there are other key pieces of data that “surround” the social graph. Two important pieces of data that nearly always accompany a social graph are “profiles” and “artifacts”. Profiles provide more information about a specific object that may be found in the graph. We are all familiar with the basic person profile, that may include our name, address, telephone number, birth date, picture and hobbies, just to name a few items. Profiles in business can be extended to include job functions, reporting structure, expertise and numerous other details. As social technologies traverse the social graph, they can link from nodes in the graph to the profile information on the object to gather more specific data about the object.
Artifacts are pieces of information that are generated as part of using the social technology. The line between what is an artifact and an actual node on the social graph sometimes leads to a conclusion that all artifacts are simply nodes in the social graph.
However, in many instances, it is possible to collect files, documents, IM conversations and other material around a relationship that exists between two nodes in the graph. For example, if the social graph contains the information that: John executed the order, where John and the order are objects and execute is the relationship, then any information about how the execution went – the time, whether it succeeded, any details around the order, could be considered artifacts. Artifacts need to be stored and related to the “relationship” in the graph that caused their generation.
A common problem encountered by businesses is where to store profile and artifact information. Many businesses have multiple profiles, at least for people, including profiles in LDAP directories and the numerous social tools and applications available in the business. The ideal from a master data management situation would be to have a single, universal profile for people that can be shared across all applications transparently for the user. Other objects that might appear in a social graph might also require profile information and how and where to store this information is another difficult decision. Most social tools available now require data for any item stored in the social graph to be stored locally and this includes data on applications, documents, events and other potential “social graph” objects.
Artifacts, depending on their form may or may not lend themselves to be stored in other types of systems, such as CMIS systems frequently used for documents. In many cases, the social tool itself becomes the defacto repository for artifact information is it frequently is for profile information.
Depending on the specific social technology, a social graph may look and behave differently. But all businesses agree that they do not want to invest significant administrative time creating and maintaining graphs. That leads to the question of how do businesses effectively create and manage the social graph that is used in their various social tools.
In many instances, it is the users themselves who construct the graphs. Employees ask to be added to communities or are requested to participate in a wiki. Graph structures are created as employees are added to the community or given privileges on a wiki site.
In other cases, social graphs are temporal, as in the case of Instant Messaging. The graph between two people exists no longer than the time that they are communicating. Lists of contacts in instant messaging tools are not technically “social graphs” because, they don’t permanently link employees through some relationship with each other that is leveraged by the tool.
Perhaps the hardest types of social graphs to create and maintain are ones where rule based analytics are applied to determine the routing of information to users. In these cases, someone has to create the rules that decide who in the graph gets what message and what the content of that message might be. Frequently, a job role will be used to determine default settings in such situations to ease the initial creation of the social graph. But even in these situations, giving flexibility to users can often allieviate much of the maintenance issues.
Advanced approaches to graph creation are being invented that include analytics engines. These engines can look at a variety of information already in the environment, including expertise topics, geography, department assignments, job function, or any other attribute in order to initially populate social graphs. As social technology matures, more analytic capabilities will become common place, even for end users of social tools.
Chapter 7 The Role Of Security
New platforms and new technologies have always been targets for hackers, particularly ones growing as explosively as social platforms and social on mobile. This is because the security infrastructure standards are frequently immature or non-existent with new technologies and platforms. But all is not lost, there are proven security strategies that can help secure social technologies. A starting point, is understanding what the security exposures exist in this space.
One starting point to understand security is to assess all of the potential social tools available to employees and ask: who can access it and what can they see ? E-mails and instant messages tend to be targeted more for point to point or point to a few points of communication. Wikis, blogs and communities and even file sharing are often targeted at broader audiences where the model is point to many. Because of the different models around the different types of social technology, different types of information tends to be put in certain social technologies and not in others. While there are no consistent rules preventing one type of information ending up in different social formats, in general, each social technology lends itself to different types of communications, which in turn, impacts the potential confidentiality of the information that is involved.
Because the specific social technology can influence the security risk, let’s look at a few specific cases and the potential security exposures.
7.1 Controlling the security of sent e-mail
E-mail, while a very effective social technology for certain uses, is difficult to control once an e-mail is delivered to someone. Even when e-mail is protected via “do not copy/do not forward” technologies, there is little to prevent screen captures of information that can be subsequently forwarded.
Newer technologies in e-mail allow social gadgets to be embedded in the e-mail. These gadgets serve data from a remote server as they are rendered. As a result, even after an e-mail is sent, there is still control over the content rendered by the gadget based on access control lists. Gadget technology, if appropriately used, can be an effective way to maintain control of sensitive e-mail content even after it has been sent.
7.2 Wikis, Blogs, Communities
Leaks of business information have always existed in many forms, including lunch conversations in public.
Social technologies tend to make information leaks more permanent and wider spread that technologies of the past. Educating employees on the risks of public social forums can go a long way towards mitigating unintentional leaks of business information. Companies need to have clear and comprehensive guidelines for employees on how to use external sites. Auditing for compliance can be very difficult.
For internal Wikis, blogs and communities, control is much easier. Some social forums are intended to be open to all employees and for these sites, the moderator or web administrator can monitor information for appropriateness. For other communities, access controls can be placed on sites, requiring approval and membership before employees can view or post information to the sites. Regular verification of membership in these sites is important to make sure that everyone who can see the information has a continuing business need to see it.
7.3 External Instant Messaging
Some employees have been known to use external instant messaging sites for the peers with employees inside their own companies. Employees choose external tools either because they are already familiar with how they work, or they don’t like the internal tool that is provided by the company, or because they can reach someone they work with externally more readily than they can when someone appears offline on an internal network. Regardless of the reasons, the risk of potential information loss outweighs the use of external networks for business purposes unless those tools are specifically approved by the business.
7.4 Federation Of Social Technologies
It is simplistic to say that when we send an e-mail these days, we expect the recipient to receive it, no matter what e-mail server and client they happen to use. The same expectation should be assumed for other social technologies as well. Unfortunately, the social tool standards and the adoption of standards has not matured to the point where all social technologies are as universal as e-mail.
However, there are clear cases where having social tools inter-operate with each other provides a clear advantage. Looking at just a single use case, consider a business that wants to include its supply chain partners in their Activity Stream tool. The common approach currently is to force the smaller business (frequently the partner) to use the same tool as the main business. In this model, the business creates an account for the business partner in their Activity Stream tool, with all of the identity and maintenance issues that potentially causes. This may be a perfectly satisfactory solution in many instances. However, what if the partner already has their own Activity Stream tool ? Ideally, they should be able to use their own tool, receiving partner social data in context to the tool of their choice. In this case, federation between the two tools would be an optimal situation.
Federation requires an agreement on data patterns and APIs. A common set of APIs, frequently in the form of REST APIs enables different social tools to be integrated quickly to achieve the business value with a minimum of development effort. The more standard the APIs for data exchange, the less development effort that is needed. Business should look carefully at their vendors offerings to make sure that federation is not only available from social tools, but that it can be done easily as partners come and go in the course of business.
Federating social applications requires certain security technologies. Many of these technologies are similar, if not identical, to technologies used in the context of cloud discussions. As the market matures around federated social technologies, the ability to rapidly configure secure federation scenarios between tools will become a reality.
Chapter 8 Essential Ingredients To Success
[Alberto Manuel is working on this section]
There are some essential ingredients that contribute to a successful social business implementation. In this chapter we will discuss the three ingredients of planning, acting and measuring.
A first step before installing and running any social applications is to identify your social business advocates and form a cross-functional team to develop your business case and articulate the expected returns that the social capabilities will generate.
According to the Social Business News, executive advocacy is critical, now and in the future. Two-thirds of the organizations achieving the highest returns [with social business] reported that their C-suites are active advocates– that is, they commit to social engagement as a strategy and they reallocate resources to make it happen. [http://www.socialbusinessnews.com/study-executives-agree-that-social-business-has-tangible-economic-benefits/]
After the plan and team are in place, it is time to act. A good place to start is to develop a proof of concept that leverages a social platform to extend existing solution investments.
Finally, make sure that the expected returns are measured and recorded. Metrics should have been outlined during the planning phase. Once the proof of concept is operational, am emphasis should be placed on collecting metrics around the expected returns the project was to provide.
Social initiatives will affect almost every structure, process and role within the organization, social initiatives touch outside interaction (with customers, or partners) and inside (with people that work inside the organization), thus executives should sponsor and provide help to ensure that they are not implemented as another system to support collaboration, due to the fact that social technologies is much more human centric and as such involve other kind of dimensions ( likes, dislikes, personal intrusion, trust, openness, transmission reach, fears).
From a different perspective, internally to the organization, people are building communities to work together on business problems and on their daily tasks. The proliferation of social tools delivered for personal use is causing a shift in working patterns if IT governance allows them to be used in the company domain. People like to replicate the same communication habits than fits their needs inside of the company. Sometimes the IT department does not even know when people are implementing social initiatives by their own, using for example the “bring your own device” filled with social apps where organization information is shared to bring productivity, but probably introducing security risks (some document sharing tools policies, state clearly that the application provider can access and retain with no restrictions the content people upload).
Executives that focus only on, for example, the outside-in perspective (engaging with customers, using for example social networks, because it’s a trend and everybody is using it) fail to deliver value because the collaboration process is tackled once it enter corporate boundaries.
On every change management process people have doubts about the effect the change is going to bring (typically, people wonder if their job is at risk), but on these social initiatives often people make this kind of questions:
- Why I cannot handle customer complain posted in a social network? Who is taking care of it?
- There are some great reviews and suggestions about our products out there, but no one is reading it.
- It would be nice if we could setup a wiki for a project, but the project manager wants to share everything using a distribution list.
- What are the best tools to adopt? There are so many and some look very similar. What are the best?
There is not a best approach or a “one size fits all” method, because the adoption of social technologies depends:
- The process. How execution is done. What do we do?
- The social network nodes. The way the network of nodes depends, the roles, information flow across the nodes.
- The way people are organized around dominant knowledge interests (what social networks you belong). A person may have a dominant interest in corporate risk and it’s involved or it’s invited to be involved on every process where risk is part of.
Chapter 9: The Impact Of Mobile
Mobile devices bring an entirely new dimension to social business. Mobile devices are different from other portable devices such as laptops or even net books because they are almost always on. There is something more personal about mobile devices than any other type of device, and people are more willing to be interrupted and respond to information that arrives to their mobile device than to other devices. This always on, always available characteristic of mobile is frequently called “presence”.
The concept of presence, or knowing “where I am now” enables many unique social scenarios. In consumer facing business scenarios, for example, “I am currently at the cinema” or “we see you are near our store, come in and see our sale” can be leveraged by businesses. The concept has equal relevance in the social business arena. Consider being at a conference and being able to ask the question “is anyone I know in the auditorium right now?” based on the knowledge of where their mobile devices are. These are all social scenarios that are enabled by mobile devices.
Certain social technologies, in particular, activity streams, SMS messages, Instant Messaging (IM) and even e-mail lend themselves readily to use on mobile devices. Employees can interact with their business from their mobile device in a format that is comfortable in a mobile, small screen size format.
Businesses must consider that, because of the personal nature of mobile devices, that it is easier to intrude and create the “always at work” impression for their mobile employees. Selecting the correct set of social technologies for mobile devices can allow for the rapid contact and dissemination of information as well as the participation of the employee, without becoming overly intrusive. This is a particularly relevant conversation considering that most employees purchased and own the mobile device, and that it was purchased as much for personal use as it was for business. Businesses are having to adapt to the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) mindset that is now prevalent World wide.
Location information is now available not only from mobile devices, but also on desktop systems, especially in browsers. However, because the location of mobile devices changes frequently, that information can be used to customize the business information that is presented to a user on their mobile device. Information can be sorted, filtered or prioritized differently depending on the location of the employee. Some business are even exploring auto the provisioning and un-provisioning of certain business applications onto mobile devices depending on the location of the device (for example, only allow that application to run when we know the device is on one of our networks).
Mobile devices present some specific security challenges. The capability to remotely wipe a device of confidential information in the event the device is stolen or an employee leaves the company is a very important aspect to mobile device management. Likewise, finding lost devices using secure presence information is increasingly a need expressed by business people (especially those in charge of corporate security management).
Social business applications for mobile devices can range from native applications specific to that device’s operating system, to hybrid applications that leverage both the browser and the native operating system, to solely browser based applications. There are advantages to any of the approaches for providing social content. In the recent past, browser based social applications suffered from a lack of functionality and common look and feel from other applications on a mobile device. As HTML 5 matures, browser based applications are beginning to contain as rich a feature set as native applications.
Chapter 10: The On Ramp: Where to start?
The nice thing about social business is it is not an all or nothing proposition. Social technologies lend themselves to gradual introduction into the organization so it is easier to start small and grow successes. In this section we provide four examples of how businesses have successfully introduced social technology into their companies.
10.1 The Executive Participant
Every IT project requires executive support or the project will fail. But in this case, we focus on the executive as an involved participant and not only as a sponsor.
Few things grab the attention of employees better and faster than communications from a leader or an executive in a company. There are a variety of ways that leaders inside companies communicate with employees, ranging from local town meetings to teleconferences. Even in smaller organizations, effectively conveying knowledge and information on the direction of a company can be a challenge.
Many companies have successfully leveraged social technologies as an effective leadership communication tool. The communication comes in the form of blogs or wikis where executives not only provide message but also interact with employees in more of a discussion format.
10.1.1 It Must Be A Habit
A key to success for this social approach is the commitment of the leader to regularly use the social technology. Many executives have a “page” where carefully crafted information on business progress or policies are posted by staffers. While effective for select purposes, this use of technology is much more aligned with the “Intranet” concept than it is with social business.
A social business approach to executive communication, at a minimum, demonstrates regular and frequent updates to an “intranet” page, where the messages are crafted not by a host of writers, but by the leader themselves. The delivery of information is less formal, but no less effective than formal intranet sites.
10.1.2 Build Communities, Foster Trust
Additional features of social business sites for communication include the ability for employees to comment on material that is posted. Still further engagement is fostered if employees and leaders can engage in a conversation around a topic in a community, rather than a static intranet page.
The key to successfully gaining, holding and fostering employee participation is the commitment of the leader to regularly use the social tool as a means of communication. Comments and material must be forthcoming from the leader on a regular basis to encourage employees to regularly check the community. Leaders who respond to employee comments further foster the use of the social tools, because what employee doesn’t like to have their ideas considered or discussed by a business leader?
There could be multiple goals for a business leader to commit to participation in a social community with his employees. One obvious goal, is the ability it provides for an executive to convey a message directly to employees in his own words. Another goal is to solicit feedback on ideas and policies through the power of “crowd sourcing”. While there may be many goals serviced by an effective executive lead social community, an underlying benefit is that employees are conditioned to add social community tools into their daily business tasks.
Conditioning employees to leverage communities through an executive lead community can become the foundation for further use of communities and other social technologies inside a company.
10.1.3 Executive Involvement In Real Life
Here are two real life stories that illustrate the success social business can achieve when business leaders regularly participate.
In one example, a discussion was taking place on a community board around a particular topic. It was well known that a top executive regularly read and often commented on material in the community. On one occasion, the executive read the discussion and replied to at least two comments on the site over a weekend. This not only substantially increased the amount of conversation on the site the next week around the topic, but also increased the raw numbers of participants reading the particular conversation.
In a second example, an executive embraced the concept of blogging as a way of communicating within his organization. The communication was so effective that his blog site, over a period of time, achieved over 1 million “hits” – from an employee only blog
10.2 The Determined Product Team
Most of the time, except when faced with tangled legacy situations, it is easier to start with something and improve it than to start from scratch. This philosophy applies equally well when considering where to start with social technologies. It is easier to start with an existing process or application and incrementally add social capabilities to it, rather than to set up a greenfield social application and hope users will find a use for it.
The product development area is one area frequently cited as a successful place to apply social technologies. Well run product teams frequently assess their execution on past projects or, in the agile world, on past iterations. As communications issues are identified as needing improvement, social technologies can frequently be used to address those communications problems.
10.2.1 Requirements Clarification
Consider a product team that needs frequent interaction with their marketing team to verify requirements for the product. While there are tools that exist to try to formally capture requirements, record comments, etc., it is seldom the case that a requirement is entirely clear the first time it is documented. More often than not, the process of understanding a requirement is a dialog between marketing and development until a common understanding and vocabulary around the requirement is reached. Requiring business people to access development tools to engage in this requirements dialog is not desirable nor even feasible in many cases. Tools specific to requirements tracking often don’t allow the format or free exchange necessary when simply discussing or “circling” around the true meaning of a requirement.
10.2.2 Discussion Forums as a tool
Business have successfully applied team wikis, in the form of discussion forums, to allow teams to engage in the give and take discussions around requirements to further the understanding of the entire team around requirements. In ideal situations, participants are able to leverage a user interface of their choice to view and post comments and questions to the “requirements” forum. But even if everyone is required to view the forum in an unrelated browser tab, the impact of everyone literally and figuratively getting on the same page with respect to requirements can be powerful.
10.2.3 Consistent Use Is Crucial
A key to success of a “requirements” wiki is acceptance and participation by the entire team participating in requirements discussions. If key stake holders continue “sideband” clarifications outside of the public requirements discussions, then project members will grow to distrust the accuracy of the requirements information and discussions on the wiki and will stop using it themselves.
10.2.4 Moderation May Be Necessary
Depending on how the requirements wiki for a development team is run, moderation of the site by a project lead may be an essential ingredient to success. There are several roles for moderators to play when using a requirements wiki. First, they make sure that comments related to a requirements discussion are focused on clarification of the specific project requirements and that new requirements or griping are not the focus on the discussion. Another role for moderators is to, at the appropriate time, summarize the discussion and move the clarified requirement to an appropriate requirements tracking environment (this of course is in the case where the requirements forum is completely separate from other development process tooling). Moderators can come from any leadership position in the project – either marketing or developers, depending on the specific project.
10.2.5 Discussion Forums In Real Life
One software company continuously had difficulties with its customers not understanding or knowing what was coming next in the products. Sometimes this was just annoying. Other times, it influenced vendor selection decisions. In order to address the needs of customers to not only see what was coming in future product releases but to also participate in the process of shaping upcoming functions, the company began a transparent development effort where much of the requirements, planning and even development efforts took place in full view of qualified customers using a mix of Web 2.0 and social technologies.
Included in this transformation was a requirements discussion forum where customers could not only propose new requirements but could participate with the development team in a discussion of exactly how the requirement should take shape in the product. The result of the effort was happier, more informed customers as well as requirements that were customer vetted and clearer for the development team
10.3 The Hidden Expert
Expert location is often listed as primary benefit of social technologies in knowledge worker environments. The thought is, “Surely, someone in the company already knows the answer to this question”. But in anything but this smallest environments, finding “that person” can be a daunting if not impossible task.
10.3.1 Building the Knowledge Base
Social tools and corresponding analytics capabilities are often successfully leveraged to find experts who might otherwise go unnoticed.
One way to start with expert location is to leverage wiki, blog and/or community technologies. It is often easy to encourage people in knowledge type work such as research and development to engage in on line communities supported by social technology. People considered experts will frequently be the most active posting articles and answer questions of others in these environments.
10.3.2 Adding In Analytics
After usage of wikis, blogs and/or communities has taken hold in the organization and is regularly leveraged by users, analytics engines can be added to process the content to identify subject matter linked to names of the contributors. In this way, people’s expertise is automatically cataloged and, in manner, quantified and can be compiled in a directory of experts by subject.
10.3.3 Finding Willing Participants
Another factor to consider when developing expert location tools is the willingness of experts to share their knowledge. The dilemma in some instances is having experts who are unwilling to share their knowledge with the rest of the organization. In the case of social technologies, the experts who are identified via analytics are ones who have already shown a willingness to actively share their knowledge through their contributions on blogs, wikis and communities.
10.3.4 Cautions with Ratings
Advanced techniques around expert identification often include ratings. As users respond to questions, their responses are graded and ranked by others. These rating are frequently called a users “reputation”. Reputation use for internal business networks must be handled with great care, if used. While the web provides a significant amount of anonymity for responders, ratings when applied among co-workers who know each other can be misinterpreted and can often be counter productive to encouraging teams to open share and assist one another.
10.3.5 Expert Finding In Real Life
One R&D company tracked the papers filed by its employees leveraging social communities. It then used analytics to compile a tag cloud for each R&D employee, based on the content of their papers. The tag cloud was further distilled to key words that were used to identify the demonstrated expertise of employees.
The company recognized several limitations to this approach, however, the were still able to obtain business benefits by connecting R&D peers working on similar technologies who may not have communicated otherwise.
10.4 The Exception To The Rule
Business Process Model processes are often inherently social insofar as they typically describe how a team of people collaboratively achieves a business result. The primary problem with any business process is when exceptions occur, regardless of how structured or unstructured the particular business process is. Social web technologies are effective at handling exceptions in processes, allowing both quick notification and crowd-sourcing action to deal with the exceptional situation.
10.4.1 Merging Process with Social
Social technologies can completely disrupt traditional command-and-control processes, but the social web is necessary to address bottlenecks in existing processes and even foster new and more effective processes. There are divergent views on how to apply social technologies to certain types of business processes and there is clearly much work to be done in learning how to successfully blend business process management tools with free-flowing interactions on the social web.
10.4.2 Leaving the Tool
In cases where the business process tooling does not support built in social collaboration, leaving the tool may be the only option to engage in social communications. Employees may be empowered to leverage everything from e-mail to instant messaging to consult with peers to do problem solving in cases where not enough information exists in the established process to solve a problem.
The difficulty with leaving the tool, is that much of the knowledge and information captured during the problem solving efforts remains outside the tool. Ideally, the discussion and resolution of the problem can be captured as part of the business process so that the knowledge can be applied later when a similar exception occurs.
10.4.3 Staying in the Tool
More BPM tools are adding social capabilities into their work flow capabilities. Several BPM tools now have “human tasks” that can be added into processes. For human tasks, these steps connect a user with built in social technologies that include activity streams, instant messaging and built in e-mail capabilities. Such tools support the integration of the social conversations that take place in context to the process and, therefore, capture valuable information about decisions that can not only be used for traceability of a particular instance of the process, but also can be used to improve knowledge about how to handle unclear situations that arise during the process.
10.4.4 Don’t Silo
It is advisable not to create social silos in individual tools, and BPM tools are no exception. A silo in a BPM tool occurs when participation in the social discussion is predicated to having a user id in the particular tool. This is similar in thought to everyone having to belong to a single e-mail service in order to exchange e-mails with each other. While effective communication can take place among the members of the community, experts and participants who don’t use the tool are excluded to the benefit of no one.
Chapter 11 – The Organization and Its’ Role
The org chart vs the social network graph
Changing interactions, empowering employees, involving customers, etc.
What is the organization’s role in getting started with social business – enabler, leader, follower, participant, visionary? The answer may be all of the above. It is useful to approach this topic from a perspective of the social business use case domain of interest, for example enterprise social networking, which is a typical area for organizations to get started with social business. The business goals for enterprise social networking are usually to enable collaboration in news ways across an organization and overcome typical boundaries, be they divisions ( how can we get our various research and development labs to collaborate with each other on product innovation ), role based ( how can we flatten our organization so that executives and practitioners can engage in productive bi-directional dialogue ), team based ( how can our teams collaborate better as we work on projects ) or geographic ( how can our emerging market teams find and engage with our subject matter experts in other geographies ).
The members of the organization are already aware of and using social networking tools today in their personal life – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Texting, etc. Because of this, conceptually they understand social networking and how it can be applied to business. Thus the organization has a challenge and an opportunity – the bar has been set by consumer oriented social networking tools in terms of usability and function. Enterprise implementations will need to at least approach that sophistication for employees to readily adopt and use the social tools. Consider that the successful consumer social networking sites were able to start, evolve, and eventually reach a tipping point of numbers of actively engaged members that provided value to the participants and further enticed additional membership and usage. How can the organization achieve similar success?
Organizations have typical models to encourage employees to engage in a certain behavior. There is the command and control approach, driven by top down executive mandates. On the surface this is counter to the opt-in model of the consumer social networking successes. However, in some social business scenarios, such as project team collaboration, establishing the expectation of tools that project team members will use to collaborate and share their work can be effective.
Organizational leaders set the culture. Entire books have been written on the subject of corporate culture. Leaders that embrace enterprise social networking can have a major impact on driving an organization towards that tipping point – using social as a means of flattening the organization – reaching out to all employees in an open, sustained dialogue via blog and / or wiki is an approach that has been successful.
Arguably the most compelling value proposition that is shared by employees and organizational leaders, is the conclusion that “it’s easier and more effective to do my job this way”. It is important to enable grass roots approaches to the use and adoption of social business as well. Consider the generational perspective. Typically early career employees are the leaders in the use of social networking technologies. Those more experienced in the organization, and in positions of leadership, may be the followers in the use of social technologies. This creates an interesting phenomenon that can be an advantage for organizations that embrace social business. Enable early career employees to lead the way on adoption of social technologies for business. Organizational leaders should look for these opportunities and encourage them. Couple with cross-mentoring programs where early career employees are paired with more seasoned veterans – they have a lot to learn from each other. There may be a joint value proposition here in terms of employee retention goals, and building the organization’s future leaders.
Organizations will want to have their sights set on an evolution to a state of “this is where work gets done” – because of the business value that it creates – faster, more effective, more innovative, better quality, etc. As an example, in many organizations today, instant messaging often replaces the phone call – for some use cases it’s much more efficient for many reasons. Social business use cases and associated technologies will continue to emerge and evolve. The organization’s role is to envision, enable, lead, participate, and follow – all of the above.