The use of social communications and collaboration techniques are essential for business success. It is generally understood that social media is a key component in positive business transformation, but it requires more than using new methods to communicate. That is just one part of the equation, because collaboration, which involves participation and support, is what will validate a company’s attempts at social communication.
The types of technology used in social communications and collaboration includes using social business software such as Jive’s social media engagement tools or its Engage Platform. As the software runs in the thousands of dollars, it may be less cost-effective for small businesses to consider.
On the Open Source front, Drupal Commons has developed an alternative which strives to integrate the best features of collaboration, social media, networking and community software. Designed to work over an extended layer of social collaboration, it is a more cost-effective solution for businesses to produce great results. (http://commons.acquia.com/)
Social Communication Issues
When Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge workers,” it made sense within the context of social communication, which essentially consists of working with knowledge and information. Dealing with information and knowledge involves employing a vast array and range of technology tools. Technology such as the Internet and mobile devices aim at boosting productivity, which is key for business growth.
Thomas H. Davenport indicates that in order for organizations to take advantage of the best use of social communications and collaboration, they will need to take “a radically different approach” (“Rethinking knowledge work: A strategic approach,” McKinsey Quarterly, February, 2011). While he acknowledges that technology is a “vital enabler” of communication, in order to effect collaboration, it requires an understanding of how to deal with the massive volumes of information at hand.
“Although collaboration is at the heart of modern business processes, most companies are still in the dark about how to manage it,” notes Robert L. Cross, Roger D. Martin, and Leigh M. Weiss in “Mapping the Value of Employee Collaboration,” (http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Mapping_the_value_of_employee_collaboration_1827. Using process-based tools like activity-based costing, business engineering processes and addressing quality management were always effective measurement devices to assess efficiency improvement. While they do work well within the context of evaluating individual tasks, they have done poorly at addressing the lack of network transparency that staff uses to accomplish their more functional tasks.
Solutions to enhance collaboration for social communications might include executives realizing the paths for information access improvement. First, social communications personnel should have free access to a wide array of information resources and tools. Secondly, developing a more structured system to access the knowledge and information could make it easier for collaboration to occur.
Cost Effective Strategies
As Tracey Keys, Thomas W. Malnight, and Kees van der Graaf mention in their article, “Making the Most of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),” the investment in social responsibility is viewed as an opportunity to fundamentally strengthen businesses. The costs are minimal, considering the long-term effect of developing a good lasting public reputation. (http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Making_the_most_of_corporate_social_responsibility_2479).
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David G. Peterson is a business consultant and author of Handling the Remedy. He has extensive international experience managing projects and operations for large financial institutions. He has worked in North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia skillfully managing business and technical requirements, core systems enhancement and support, merger and acquisition integration's, business process reengineering, off-shoring and outsourcing.