When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part I

I had fun giving a talk, titled When Social Media Meets Social Intranet, on 22 November 2012, at Max Atria, Expo, Singapore. The talk was part of Fuji Xerox Empowers 2012.

Here is the video:

When Social Media Meets Social Intranet from Roan Yong on Vimeo.

And here is the slides of my talk:

In addition to slides and video, I also provide the script below – so that you can have a preview of the content before you watch the video and can have an accompanying text while going through the slides. Happy reading!

Many organisations failed to make use of social media as a competitive strategy. For example: Goldman Sachs, a leader in banking industry, failed to make their corporate Facebook page thrive. Goldman Sachs’ Facebook page is devoid of any activity just like a ghost-town.

So too, SMRT, a leader in transportation industry in Singapore. SMRT, when they first started their corporate twitter account in 2011, put this statement: “We’re here, 9am – 6pm, Mon – Fri (Excluding public holiday)”. A statement which doesn’t suit the 24/7 nature of social media and reflect badly on SMRT’s capability to effectively use social media.

Organisations have to learn how to effectively use social media because millions of people are in the social media now. And the number keeps on growing day by day. Furthermore, according to research, 50% of web sales is going to occur by 2015 – less than three years from now.

But to effectively use social media, organisations need to also build a supporting infrastructure, i.e. social intranet, so that organisations can transform themselves to be a social business.

So what is a social business?

According to IBM, social business is a business that embraces networks of people to create business value. Networks of people are referring to employees, customers, and partners. This definition obviously makes sense because, employees and partners are actually internal customers! It’s impossible to make your customers happy while neglecting your internal customers at the same time.

To understand how social business deliver value for organisations, let’s look at its two components: Social Media and Social Intranet. Let’s first zoom-in to social media in the next blog post.

This blog post is part 1 of When Social Media Meets Social Intranet. Here are the links to all blog post:

Social Organisation – Definition and Three Advantages

It’s 2012 folks! This year marks the end of era where “average-joe” intranet rules, where SOP is preferred over empowerment and engagement, and where customers keep mum about their dissatisfaction. And this year means screw business-as-usual! Organisations have to transform themselves to be social organisation or face slow-painful-death.

What is Social Organisation (a.k.a. Social Business/Enterprise)?

So what is social organisation anyway? You probably heard of the term and confuse it with social business (social enterprise) - a term made popular by a nobel price winner, Muhammad Yunus. According to Yunus, social business is a cause-driven business ala Tom Shoes (Tom Shoes commits itself to give a free pair of shoes to those in need, for every pair of shoes purchased).

Yunus’ concept on social business is beautiful. The world certainly needs Yunus’ social business model to beat poverty. Too bad, the IT and KM folks use the same term to mean organisations that use social technology, i.e. social media and social intranet, as competitive advantage (for examples, case studies, and definition, please read how IBM consulting describes social business).

For the sake of clarity, in this blog, I will use the term social organisation to refer to businesses empowered by social technology. I will avoid using the term social business/enterprise - unless I want to talk about Yunus’ version of social business (very unlikely as microfinance is not my passion. Social technology is). I suggest you do the same too.

Alas using the term social organisation doesn’t end the confusion. Some experts like two Gartner analysts: Anthony J. Bradley and Mark P. Mcdonald, use the term to refer to organisations empowered by social media application to business. Others like a Forbes contributor: Fred Cavazza, use the term to refer to organisations empowered by both social media and social intranet.

So, which version of social organisation is correct? It depends on what you believe in. I believe corporate (internal) and consumer communications are converging, and thus I think social organisations have to be supported by social media and by social intranet. So I agree with Fred Cavazza’s definition of social organisation.

I also think the main purpose of social technology is to build communities. Combining these thoughts, I get the following definition of social organisation:

Social Organisation is organisation that maximises the use of social media (technology) and social intranet, to improve consumer and employee engagement and to build communities for innovation.

Why Organisations Have to Be Social Organisations?

Three big benefits underpin the need to become social organisations:

First, improved ability to engage employees, esp. the gen-Ys. Gen-Ys are moody bunch. This generation was brought up with a belief that the sky is the limit. They have a high (often unrealistic) sense of entitlement to pursue their dream/passion. The Millennials demand empowerment and bask in entrepreneurship working environment. Social organisation offers them such environment – an environment where they can be engaged and have the freedom to pursue their passion.

Second, improved ability to build communities. Social technologies are great community-building tools. They allow people with similar passion to “gather” and connect beyond the physical limitation, i.e. geographical boundaries and time difference. In other words, social technology is a catalyst for community-building. And we all know that passionate communities are breeding grounds for collective learning and innovation.

Third, ability to build relationship with social customers. Many people use social media like Facebook, Twitter, not only to improve the way they interact and live, but also to give recommendations and voice-out displeasure. Organisations would be wise to maintain presence in social media, to engage the social customers, to capture their testimonials, and to address their concern real-time.

Any thoughts? Write them down in the comment box below.

Recommended Readings:

Bradley, A., J., and McDonald, M., P. (2011). The Social Organisation – Chapter 1: The Promise of Social Organisations. Harvard Business Press.

Cavazza, F. (2012). The What and How of Social Business. Forbes.

N.A. (n.d.). Social Business. IBM.

Neisser, D. (2011). Move Over Social Media; Here Comes Social Business. Fast Company.

Why Civic Groundswell Is Pure Madness

Leaderless civic movement (civic groundswell) shows that social technology is an effective tool to get attention, but it isn’t the right tool to produce a strategic comprehensive plan. What really blunts the groundswell’s strategic edge, however, is the lack of means to resolve conflicts. That’s the main drawback of being leaderless.

Slutwalk, Cook-a-pot-of-curry, and Occupy Wall Street (and its franchises). What do they have in common? Yes, you are right. These are leaderless social movement empowered by social technology like Facebook and Twitter. In other words, these are groundswells.

Groundwell is a term coined by two Forrester researchers, Charlene Li and John Bernoff, who wrote a book with the same title: Groundswell in 2008 (they have since published a revised edition in 2011).

In essence, groundswell is a spontaneous movement of people, who use online tools to:

  • connect with like-minded people
  • influence each other’s opinion (as opposed to getting information from organisations)
  • and express the collective opinion, often by encouraging collective action such as boycotting a product, organising a mass protest or a strike.

In the book, Groundswell, Li and Bernoff argued that groundswell is increasing in numbers – thanks to the endless social media tools at customers’ disposal. And they offered advices on how to use groundswell as organisations’ competitive advantage.

Though the two authors are clearly defining groundswell in organisational context, it can also be used to illustrate the phenomenon of leaderless civic movements / active citizenry.

We are seeing an increasing trend of activists / citizens, using social technology to spread a message and to connect with like-minded folks, and expressing their opinion by taking a stand over social problem.

Does civic groundswell excite you? Are you fascinated by leaderless movement? To be frank, I’m not excited nor impressed, and neither should you. Let me tell you why.

In his article, Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted, Malcolm Gladwell brilliantly pointed out that Social Technology is useful when you want to bring the world’s attention to the social problem that you are championing, but it is less useful when you want everybody to collectively solve that social problem.

Groundswell is an emotional cauldron that has no place for critical thinking. People in groundswell, are usually expressing their emotionally-charged opinion that stokes more (usually negative) emotions. It is an effective conduit to make the collective opinion louder.

Alas, the collective action that spring from groundswell, sends mixed messages. Which one is Slutwalk’s message? (a) “women can dress what they want without getting raped”; (b) “stop rape”; or (c) “let’s celebrate feminism”. And which one is Cook-a-pot-of-curry’s? (a) “immigrants should respect Singapore culture” or (b) “stop influx of foreigners”. Let’s not talk about Occupy Wall Street. I totally don’t understand what the protesters want (I’m with Herman Cain on this. Check out the video clip above).

What sorely lacking in these so-called leaderless movements is, well…leaders. In leaderless organisation, everyone has equal rights to interpret the purpose of the movement and to determine the best way to achieve that purpose.

Therein lies the problem. If everyone (translation: all leaders) has big differences of opinion on the movement’s purpose and strategic direction, then how to get everybody on the same page?

Yes people in groundswell may agree on the main theme of the movement. But that’s the easy part. People can agree on almost everything from birdeye view. However, to produce a strategic plan, these people have to scrutinise the details and to do a series of collective action. This requires high-level commitment to solve the problem – something that people in groundswell are lack of.

And if you can’t produce anything strategic, you don’t have a concrete plan to solve the problem that you are championing. In other words, you are just being noisy but not helping. To me, that is madness!

Further Readings

Flanagan, C. (4 Aug 2011). The Trouble with SlutWalks: They trivialize rape. NYDailyNews.com

n.a. (21 Aug 2011). Curry Smell Fuels Singapore Immigration Row. Reuters.com

Riaz, S., & Bapuji, H. (14 Oct 2011). Occupy Wall Street: What Businesses Need to Know. HBR.org

Why Smart Organisations Use Social Intranet

To win in today’s business competition, you need a social intranet. I’m dead serious. The future belongs to organisations who can use the power of social intranet for employee engagement, productivity, collaboration, and innovation.

Yep, practically all the things that the management wants. So what is this social intranet?  Social intranet is an intranet with social technology tools like social networking, blog, discussion forum, comment box, wikis, etc.

If this sounds like social media stuff, it is! Social intranet is about using social media within the organisation. There is a subtle difference between social technology and social media. Social media is usually referring to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or any other web 2.0 tools in the internet. Social technology, on the other hand, is a more generic terms that cover the whole array of web 2.0 tools in internet and in intranet.

Smart organisations are investing in social intranet rather than simply allowing the use of social media in the organisation (I know it is difficult to stop people from using social media at work, thanks to the ubiquitous iphone and other smart-phone devices).

Here is why. Employees can make use of their free time to share ideas and to connect with their colleagues in social intranet – rather than in social-media sites. The big idea is, to contain the sharing of ideas and social networking within the organisation.

Why not use social media? Social media isn’t ideal because people can “inadvertently” share sensitive information to the public. And it is impossible to link employees’ social activities in social media to the benefit of the organisation.

I know what you are thinking. You are probably going to criticise me for not embracing the concept of Open Innovation, i.e. collectively innovate through idea-sharing with the public, competitors, amateurs, etc. I gotta tell you this: I’m an advocate and ardent believer of open innovation. Yes, I’m.

But, I’m also a very practical person. I don’t think organisations can entirely open-up their business processes, or can crowdsource strategic decision-making to outsiders. Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing can be used in situations where the organisation is exploring something new that it has no expertise in.

Okay, enough of open innovation and crowdsourcing. Let’s get back to our discussion on using social intranet in organisations.

With social intranet, you can:

  • Increase employee engagement. Work is no longer boring, when part of your work is to pursue your professional interest/passion, and to build your personal brand within the corporate intranet. Plus, you get the chance to connect with cool people in the organisation (people who have similar interests with you).
  • Increase productivity. Looking for corporate information or contents owned by your colleagues? Well, it’s going to take awhile if you are using traditional intranet. But with social intranet? Seriously, you can get it within a blink. That’s because in social intranet, contents are tagged using corporate taxonomy and your own tags (social tagging or folksonomy) – which means you can retrieve contents faster by refining your search according to those tags. And if you have a very good social intranet like Sharepoint 2010 (Too bad microsoft don’t pay me for endorsing their hot-selling product), you can search contents based on social distance, i.e. your “friends’ contents” get prioritised in the search engine. So, you can jump straight to contents authored by people whom you trust.
  • Improve social collaboration. It’s hard to collaborate using email, because you are often get confused on which version is the latest and on whether the document has been vetted by the bosses. In social intranet, you can use collaboration space as one-stop centre for collaboration. You and your co-workers can add, edit, amend, or delete contents at easy because every changes made is recorded. You know which version is latest in collaboration space. Plus, you can create a workflow to route documents for approval.
  • Increase innovation. In social intranet, cultivating communities of practice (CoP) is easy. Employees have more opportunities to find like-minded colleagues and to start building a community around a shared-passion. When employees have supportive-environment (the CoP) and the means to experiment with their ideas, there will be more innovations in the organisations.

Does your organisation use social intranet? Tell me whether it has made an impact to your work or how it has benefited the organisation.

Further Readings:

  1. Hinchcliffe, D. (2010). Social intranets: Enterprises grapple with internal change. ZDNet.
  2. Ward, T. (2010). The Rise of Intranet 2.0: The Social Intranet. CMSWire.
  3. Berg, O. (2010). The business case for social intranets.
  4. Lupfer, E. (2010). Creating a Social Intranet where Employees can Learn, Plan and Do