In the last post we looked at social media from an externally facing perspective using things like You Tube, Facebook and Twitter to engage with external consumers. But what about your internal consumers? Are you being as sociable with them as you can (or should) be?
Communications within an organisation tend to be asynchronous and often top-down – the CEO sending a ‘proclamation from the ivory tower’ to the minions announcing a decision or a strategy is all-too-common. Michael Fauscette commented on the phenomenon of information overload where employees do not have proper collaborative tools and how traditional information systems were designed for information capture, not sharing. Think about the file structure of a network drive. A network server will have folders that are shared, but unless you have permission you cannot access the files contained in them. Sure there are things the general workforce should not see such as payroll information but a large amount of other content may benefit from a more collaborative approach.
There are a number of tools that organisations can deploy internally, such as Microsoft Sharepoint, Yammer and Ning all with funny names that make it a hard sell to CFOs and CEOs but that can deliver value to a business. Aristocrat are an organisation that have realised the power that social media can bring, deploying Yammer globally and now seeing people in the company that ordinarily would not contribute engaging and collaborating. Dion Hinchcliffe over at ZDNet has an interesting series on Enterprise 2.0 success stories that are well worth a read and they highlight how powerful the openness of social media can be.
The only thing that seems to be stopping wider adoption of social media in organisations is culture, more specifically a culture that sees power in knowledge ownership, of control of the information flow. Staff engagement seems to be a hot topic at the moment, with a number of companies I have spoken to highlighting it as a focus for the year. The consensus is getting staff engaged with the business is key to growth. How do we expect them to get engaged if we filter and block their access to the business through out-dated attitudes and risk-maps.The infographics below is from David Armano’s blog about the weaving of social into the organisations DNA and for me sums up what needs to occur for mainstream adoption.
Social Media cannot be an ‘IT-thing’ or a ‘Marketing-thing’. It needs to be seen not as a gimmick but as a value-adding platform that enhances the workplace and allows staff to be engaged. Imagine if there was a way to remove the workplace silos, where everyone had an equal voice and could share their problems and ideas. Who knows, little Mary the intern in finance may just have the next big product idea. Tom in HR might just have the solution to a budgeting issue or an ad placement. If only they knew there was a problem in the first place….
Time for the old guard determined to maintain a top-down command-and-control attitude to leave? I think so.