Social Tools in the Workplace – The Voice of the Users #WWWCooler

“Social” is the latest buzz word that has the world talking. What does it mean, what does it matter, how do we do it, how do we do it right? Following the conversation has been fun and along that way I have learned so many things and gotten to see things from a realm much greater than my own experience. There are so many perspectives – all of which have valid points. Like most things, you have to pick through them all and draw your own conclusions. Today, Microsoft has released some really exciting information that is based on a survey they have had conducted recently. The results of the survey were informative and it would be a mistake to not take them and consider how they might apply to your organization.

Adam Pisoni, the General Manager of Yammer at Microsoft has this to say about social-

“Everyone in an organization—from the CEO’s office to the mail room—has valuable information. The challenge companies face is how to tap that knowledge across geographies, departments and pay grades. While the nature of work evolves and becomes increasingly global, daily interactions typically involve the same faces, and information remains locked in different corners of an organization.”

This quote is one of my favorites when it comes to thinking about Social and the tools that users need and want as a part of their day to day interactions. The truth is that Social is just part of what we do every day. I had a great opportunity to discuss the survey results with Brian Murray, Director of Enterprise Strategy at Yammer last week and the findings of the Survey, clearly outline the reasons that the acquisition of Yammer by Microsoft makes so much sense.

The Workplace is Changing

One of the first points that Brian made in my discussions with him is that workplace is changing. He noted that according to research conducted by Constellation Research, “IT spending is down 5% but Technology Spending is up 18-20%”. This highlights the fact that many organizations are looking outside of the traditional IT model of asking IT for technical solutions, but instead moving forward with their own budgets to adopt and implement technical solutions. Decisions are becoming more decentralized, and users are taking a more proactive approach in acquiring and using the tools they feel are beneficial to them. As a consultant I have seen this first hand, many times I am approached by smaller groups within a larger organization that are looking to do things differently, or looking to utilize tools in a way that is specific to their smaller group.

Change Brings Tension

With most major changes, comes a tension of how things have always been done. IT groups with organizations are now looking at ways to meet the ever changing needs of the organization while still maintaining high levels of supportability and control. Combine this will the ability for smaller groups to consume services and free solutions and you should see how quickly this can become a decentralized environment. The most successful companies that will emerge from this tension will be the ones that can successfully find the balance between the two. Organizations need to move quickly and freely between the tools they need, while at the same time maintaining the control, governance and structure that is required within the organization. Finding the balance between the two seems to be the current struggle of many organizations.

An Ever Evolving Journey

The beauty of this is that this journey is just at the beginning, and this journey is the type that is ever evolving, but never completing. As wescreenshot_05esCampaign_Page.jpg engage more, we will learn more and as we learn more about who we are and how we work, we can become better and different. It’s a constant path leading to an ever evolving, changing workplace. The real question then becomes how do we get started, and how do we align with the natural progression of the industry? When discussing the “how” part of the equation with Brian, it was clear that Microsoft is leading the charge in how they are guiding organizations in the process by providing tools and guidance to assist organizations. Most of the materials available, guide you in a way that allows you to take the general information and make it specific to your organization. In most cases the steps seem so simple, but sometimes the most value is found when we step back to the simple.

 

In closing, I want to leave you with a final quote from Adam, with a reminder that no matter the tools your organization uses, the success of any organization depends greatly on its ability to connect and share information.

“Done right, enterprise social can drive significant business value by improving how employees connect, share information and work across teams and geographies, and beyond the firewall to customers, vendors and other key relationships.”

On the flip side, what happens if we do nothing?  How long will things carry on as they are and what will be the long term impact of waiting to see what happens?  What can you be doing, internal to your own organization, to help drive the type of behavior you want to see? The conversation is happening all around you, and now is the time to jump in and impact the conversation where you are at. Be that voice internal to your organization that can lead and drive the change you desire.

 

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