Enterprise 2.0 Innovate 2012 Notes: Beyond Adoption

I am pleased to attend Enterprise 2.0 Innovate on the West Coast for the first time. It occurred November 12 – 15 in the Santa Clara Convention Center. Here my notes from this year’s Enterprise 2.0 2012 conference in Boston. Here are my notes from the session: Beyond Adoption, led by Richard Hughes, Director of Product Strategy, BroadVision, and Paul Karazuba, QuickLogic. Here is the session description.

“While most of the attention towards enterprise social networks so far has been about driving adoption – getting people onto the network– the bigger question is “what are they going to do when they get there?”.  These networks need to become a place where real work gets done.  But simply taking existing business processes and moving them to a social network without change is missing the great opportunity that social business provides. In this session, learn how enterprise social networks complement existing business processes, and how these processes can be enhanced and refined to take advantage of the social environment in which they take place. Hear directly from QuickLogic about their experience moving their business processes into a social network to give users access to the information they need to do their job, regardless of their geographic location, and how their social network is a platform to drive innovation through collaboration and discovery of new information.”

Richard began by mentioning that a common theme at the E 2.0 conferences he has attended is adoption but there is more to it. What happens after the initial adoption? That is the topic of this session. People a have problem relating the social network to their actual job.  There needs to be a place for real work within the social network or it will fail. I would certainly agree. Then once you use the social tools to do real work, the nature of the work changes.

I have discussed this with Richard before and mentioned this conversation in a prior post (see Putting Social Media to Work). As Richard said at the time, if an enterprise social networking tool does not integrate with the existing enterprise apps it is limited to simply facilitating water cooler chat. It stays on the sidelines.

Currently most business processes exist outside the social network as these processes existed before the network.  Now the business processes need to be brought to the social tools. However, if that is all that is done, the same silos of conversation will remain. People who did not talk before will still not talk unless something proactive is done.

To make business processes work the network has to take advantage of the connections between people to do the work better. You also have to consider the benefits of putting work in a social environment. One benefit is immediacy of access to content and people. Another is the serendipity and the third is transparency. If you are working out in the open you are likely to work better.

Different processes benefit differently from the introduction of social tools and these three types of benefits.  There are three types of business processes: unstructured, semi-structured, and structured. People usually start with the unstructured processes like asking a question where immediacy can add value. However, putting in transparency can benefit structured processes. Starting with semi-structured processes is a good place to begin and you get the benefits of serendipity and immediacy.  Some structure in a process gives it more discipline and this can be good.

Paul took over. His company makes semi-conductors and has eight diverse locations. They went to social because of this geographic diversity.  They were getting less engagement from their employees who were away from their Sunnyvale, CA HQ. They adopted social tools and one of the first steps was to identify the pain points of communication and collaboration.

Many of their clients operate in Asia. The typical method of communication was email. The pain points included time separation and delays in response. You can easily lose content within your email in-box. You get too many “reply all emails” and need to go back through long strings to understand the context.

So they moved to a blog and wiki base for conversations. There was a big drop in a number of emails without a loss of information. Open issues remain present and on top. It is now easy to find stuff. If the user is not needed they are not distracted. All people are informed equally. Despite these benefits, some people still insist on email. For now their company does not insist on not having email.

Another example of pain points is the all employee meeting.  Time zone makes the same time meetings difficult. So they created a meeting archiver that records a meeting and makes it available whenever you can attend to it. You can see what was actually said and not through the filter of others.

The next major step was to ask why? They challenged assumptions. They looked at ways social tools can be used, including some non-work related things like a beer group and a football group. This got people to come to the social network and then use it for business uses.

Next, they looked at reward, recognition, and responsibility.  They gave gift cards for doing good things. They recognized innovation and spread it around to other departments. They also empowered employees through process improvement responsibilities.

Richard provided a summary. Contribution can come from anyone. Their top contributor is a 60-year-old Englishman. This is because his work is embedded in the network. Social networks that do not include business processes will wither and die. A business process does not become social just because it is put into a social tool. Different processes derive different benefits from social tools. Unstructured processed are the easiest to implement on social tools but the “sweet” spot is in semi-structured processes.

Richard referred to the Gartner adoption hype cycle and asked Paul about how it applied to his company’s use of social media. Paul said there was a two month inflated hype period. Then there was a three-month disillusionment period followed by a rise to usefulness. They had a culture of disclosure at all levels of the organization already in place so this probably helped with the adoption.  One action that was helpful was to place the information about employee stock purchase in the social tool and not in email. This was very sought after information so people went to the social tool to find it. Good idea.

They shut down their intranet site three months after the social tool was rolled out. Marketing and anyone field facing were the best adopters. Finance and HR were the most hesitant because they deal with sensitive data. Getting leadership involved is a key success factor. This is always the case with any new initiative.