All things digital marketing, social media related experiences. I have been working in digital since 1997. Occasionally I'll write about girlie things - chocolate, cupcakes, fashion, travel and yoga. Passionate about animal welfare and trying to live an organic lifestyle.
The postings on this blog are my own and do not represent Juniper Networks’ positions, strategies or opinions. Note that the views and opinions expressed are mine alone and do not represent the official views of Juniper Networks.
Some enterprises claim to be “social” businesses, but not all are Empowered Enterprises. They may use different and innovative types of software and collaboration techniques to create innovation and success, but not all are truly social enterprises. To find out more about how social businesses work and why they succeed, I interviewed Dr. Chris Boorman, Chief Marketing & Customer Success Officer at social business start up Huddle.
In the first of two Q&As with Huddle, I asked what distinguishes a “social” business, and what are the strategic drivers? In the second Q&A, I ask Boorman how can companies collaborate better? And what steps do they need to take in order to be more of a social business?
Zoe: What does a “social” business do, that others don’t do?
Chris: It is a confusing term, many organisations say they need to be social, but don’t know what it means. For me the collaborative nature of a truly social organisation means that these companies have pulled down the silos and barriers that have traditionally impeded efficient collaboration – both internally and externally. Thanks in part to the consumerisation of IT (CoIT), mobile technology and the cloud, they can now work together in a much cleaner collaborative way. They think about solving problems more openly and this means they will work more collaboratively with their customers as well, wherever they are.
For example, one of our favourite customers: Richard Williams, who is the CIO of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, uses Huddle because his staff are always travelling, but need secure access to their documents. Now staff can work wherever they are and access content on all types of devices. Documents are managed and shared in the cloud. The end result for is that staff avoid printing papers for board meetings and sending them by courier countrywide.
Zoe: If this is so desirable, why don’t we all work this way?
Chris: The problem we have is there is a massive wall between the needs of the enterprise to ensure security and the needs of the end user who wants simplicity and access.
All enterprises have grown up over the years putting in place barriers for collaboration, often for the best reasons. For example, strict security policies that prevent collaboration with people outside your organisation. Sometimes documents and materials are locked away in private groups, which prevent cross pollination. Whilst some collaboration technologies have become a barrier to business since they require significant IT resourcing to configure and manage. Even mobile devices are business barriers because most enterprises are simply not using them effectively as yet. So, we often can’t access the important data we need. We use consumer tools like Dropbox that were not designed for business use, or try to surreptitiously and quietly avoid IT by using USB sticks or our smartphones. That’s why at Huddle we think it is important to build a platform that lets all people work together with a closed security model that satisfies IT, but with the ease of use of your favourite mobile app. Now you can share and collaborate on any device, from anywhere, with anyone in a secure and compliant manner.
Zoe: Why is it important to think strategically about designing a social organisation now?
Chris: Organisations have the benefit of the CoIT, mobility and the cloud to make this collaboration possible. But we already have problems with existing half-hearted or unplanned collaboration meaning that we need to think carefully about how we create this new environment.
Recently we did a survey of how people work in the real world, conducted by Ipsos MORI. Among the organisations in our survey, 55% said they are swamped by all the information they have to deal with. Another 28% said time is wasted searching for content – our access to more and more information is making us inefficient. It’s wasted productivity, but we don’t notice it because we have always worked this way. It’s time to change!
Zoe: How can managers build a business case for change; build an ‘Empowered Enterprise’?
Chris: There isn’t a satisfactory direct measure of this inefficiency at the moment, even if companies know that they are wasting time. We are doing some research now, where we are analysing the productivity gains from creating a social business to find out how much more efficient it can be.
When we measure the productivity of how we collaborate, it’s complex – it’s like an equation with a numerator and a denominator. The ability to grow your business better is the numerator, but how can you save IT costs is the denominator. Both can change.
Zoe: There are a lot of vendors who are selling “social” technologies to business.
Chris: But the hardware and the software are only one part of the process. Often vendors describe being “social” in terms of their product, their application. As a result many potential customers think that to be a social business all you have to do is buy the latest cool social product. But it is much more than that – it is a cultural change that you need to go through and most enterprises find that hard. If you don’t get to the root of how people work together in your business and then put the platform in place to encourage it, the project will be a complete failure.
In the second part of my Q&A with Dr Boorman I ask him to identify the steps to build a successful collaborative environment.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on part one of this interview, so please do post these in the comments box below, thanks.
Learn, discover and enjoy life will be my mantra for 2014.
Now my new year’s resolutions are quite simple… to spend more time with my family and friends, the people that matter most in my life and I love very dearly.
I will say “yes” to more things that will bring opportunities into my life and say “no” to things that are going to zap my emotional energy. Begone those energy vampires.
I will stop thinking too much and just go with the flow, but I will always trust my gut feelings.
I will be less serious and take more risks during 2014, if I don’t ask then the answer will always be no.
I shall dare to be different and stand out from all those sheep. I’ll go back to skating and hope I don’t break anything in the new year. Wish me luck! I will endeavour to try as many new experiences as possible during 2014.
I will let my creativity overflow more in my writing, photography and dancing. I have missed my dance classes and performing on stage, so more Salsa, I think or maybe Tango.
Finally, 2014 will be about embracing change and enjoying the ride. So, with that in mind I will get my full motorbike licence and ride off into the sunset. Who wants to come along for a ride?
Happy New Year!
Peace and love to you all! x
PS I will continue to eat lots of chocolate, a resolution that automatically rolls over each year.