You may have heard that Facebook has launched a version of its flagship product for organizations, called Facebook Workplace. Facebook’s challenge, and opportunity, is that there are already other business collaboration and communication offerings on the market. The best known one is Slack. My company has been using Slack for a while, but we got an invitation to Facebook Workplace, so I have been checking out its features. My exposure to Workplace has been brief, but I thought I would share some of my initial impressions about the differences between Slack and Workplace. Continue reading
An article on Medium written at the end of 2015 tries to predict how we will be living in 2025. The problem with predicting so far out, and ten years is far out, is that we cannot possibly know how things we haven’t even thought about will dramatically impact our lives. It got me thinking what someone in January 2006 would have missed when predicting how we would be living in 2016. Continue reading
Three-hundred and one of them were active users of collaboration; we then split those users into two groups: those whose organization had an official ESC (Enterprise Social Collaboration) initiative, typically with Senior Executive support (the “ESC Users”) and those for whom there was no official program, and for whom their use of ESC was primarily self-provisioned and ad hoc (the “Ad Hoc Users”).
So if having a social enterprise program supported by senior executives made a difference in performance, I wonder how organizations that didn’t even have any program would have performed. Anyone think they would have done better?
The views of Frederick Taylor on scientific management have defined the way organisations have operated for over 100 years. The view that to improve efficiency and profits you need to focus on processes, has dominated the culture of business, and has led to the emergence of a market for various solutions to cater for this view – the ERP software industry is one.
A new approach is starting to emerge now, one that I think challenges the Taylorist view. This new approach is more a product of, and holds value for, the way business will work in the 21st century. The new approach is referred to as the social enterprise. Another term for it, enterprise 2.0, is described by its author, Prof. Andrew McAfee of MIT, as:
the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.
Social software enables people to rendezvous, connect or collaborate through computer-mediated communication and to form online communities.
Social enterprise puts the emphasis on people, not processes.
In his book, People Buy You, Jeb Blount points out that a major problem for business is that the balance of forces has swung far towards the side of technology, process and systems as the way to improve business, and far away from interpersonal skills. We have wrung so much efficiency out of process management that it is becoming an increasingly marginal return to find greater efficiencies. Human interaction and interpersonal skills are going to be the new competitive edge for business.
Geoffrey Moore, author of classic technology marketing books Crossing the Chasm, and Inside the Tornado, has been pointed out that business has spent the last few decades on improving their Systems of Record – the systems that handle business transactions like sales and purchase orders, inventory and supply chain management, production planning, customer relationship management, and others. He now believes those systems are no longer a source of competitive advantage. Moore argues that business needs to transform, to empower its employees by providing better communication and collaboration mechanisms, both inside the business and between businesses. What will enable this transformation is a new set of Systems of Engagement, which focus on communication and promote collaboration.
Doesn’t that sound like an emphasis on interaction and people, rather than process?
The problem at the moment is that businesses are run by people who have grown up with the Taylor view of the world. When it comes to enterprise strategy, that “social” really doesn’t count for much when it comes to enterprise strategy, according to a study by KPMG.
What is the state of social enterprise adoption? An Altimeter report mentioned:
social media is extending deeper into organizations and, at the same time, strategies are maturing
A Deloitte survey showed that many C-level executives are starting to recognize the importance of social enterprise.
I have to admit, however, that I am not yet convinced that reports like these paint the true picture.
Why should sceptical, Taylor-oriented executives consider Moore’s systems of engagement? The answer is because the business world has changed, we are now in an era where agility and adaptability is required, not rigid command-and-control structures; where mobility and cloud computing are the key technologies, not mainframes or client-server. According to Moore, the questions that need then to be asked are:
Systems of engagement do not make competence cultures more competent. They make collaboration cultures more collaborative. The key questions are: 1) Is that a good thing in your industry today? and 2) Are the people in your enterprise—specifically your CEO and your CXO peers—really up for this?
The second question is important because it requires the equivalent of making a square peg fit into a round hole.
If the artistic argument appeals to you, I liked this interpretation by Hugh MacLeod:
What do you think about social enterprise? Is it a fad, or a new way to which businesses will have to adapt?
A blog has appeared on Brian Solis’ site – Social Business is Dead! Long Live What’s Next! We may have to come up with some other responses to the Taylorists
Two blogs on the TomorrowToday blog highlighted for me the current disconnect between many (mostly older) managers and business owners, and the world of social media.
Being a ‘more mature’ social media user, I am in the minority for my age group, and it seems most of my peers consider social networking to be rather pointless, aimless and valueless.
Under the headings Twitter, FaceBook and Social Media are just like a Fax Machine and An Open Letter To Boomer Bosses Everywhere the blog makes two important points:
- social media is here and while it may currently be a nice area, it will grow
- current managers and owners (of the baby boom generation) need to start opening up to the social media world
When my generation was young, we used the expression “get with it” to exhort the then older generation to understand our attitudes and interests. It’s about time we started using that expression on ourselves.
Look here to get a good definition of who make up the baby boom generation.
I admit the title is dramatic, but I used to make a point – for some time there has been a view from the US that whatever technology they think is the best or coolest is automatically going to be used elsewhere.
I first saw this in the late 1990s at Digital Equipment when it was assumed that the benefits of 64-bit technology, used by a few US mega-corporations, could be easily transferred to and understood by smaller businesses in South Africa. It happened again in early 2000s at JD Edwards (JDE), when a few US companies began to use SOA (service oriented architecture), so it became a mantra at JDE that all businesses internationally should be looking at application integration, even if the processes, infrastructure and skills could not support it. It came up again recently with the hype around the Apple iPhone and iPad – many US-based (and some European-based) commentators took the view that everyone should using the iPhone, and ignored the fact that “the North American market has zero predictive value for the rest of the world“, which is dominated by Nokia. Now I’ve seen it again in a post coming via a CRM conference, that businesses should scaled back traditional customer management processes and approaches, and get on the social CRM bandwagon.
I think its worth reminding the US that trends and attitudes that start in New York or California do not translate across the world as quickly as they think and may not be adopted in the same way. As was mentioned to me by contacts in Canada, Australia and the UK, there are many mid-size company directors who have never used Facebook or Twitter and whose customers and suppliers don’t use them either. So a business trying to market to those directors would be foolish to focus too much of its marketing effort on social media.
The fact that I have this blog, and participate on other social media platforms, should show that I have got into the social networking culture, but I am realistic that the vast majority of people (including many of our customers or prospects) don’t turn to social media for any major business purpose. I would be interested in other perspectives, especially from people in developing countries – does the US have a mis-belief in the value and spread of its technology?
Update: if you want to see how social media is used around the world, the maps from Ignite Social Media show how localised social media really is to specific areas of the world.
I know there are many stories and case studies of the power of social media to get spread a message. But it always reinforces the point when it happens to you.
Stuart Lynn, R&D director at one of SYSPRO’s competitors, recently cited a personal experience – How can your business use twitter? – in which a blog he wrote about innovation got more coverage than he could have imagined as a result of Twitter:
… even though I only have a few hundred followers myself, within the first hour, my original tweet had an audience of over 30,000 people. Within a couple of days my blog had gone around the world …
I recently had my own ‘wow moment’, maybe not as big as Stuart’s, but significant nonetheless. Here is how it went.
1. We had a press release from a UK reseller:
K3 Business Technology acquires DigiMIS
K3 has an existing relationship with DigiMIS which provides hosting services to a number of K3 customers who deploy SYSPRO ERP and Microsoft Dynamics.
2. SYSPRO only recently set up its own Twitter ID (sysprosales) which had very few followers, but the news was tweeted:
K3 acquires DigiMIS – full-service hosting solution available for SYSPRO http://mzan.si/1ixf
3. I picked it up and retweeted it.
4. I too only have a few hundred followers but star analyst, Ray Wang, saw it and tweeted:
Now consider that Ray’s audience is over 6,000!
5. When we checked the followers for @sysprosales, we could see see how that one message had given a good push start for our company Twitter profile.
What we now realise is that we have to sustain that momentum, and bring SYSPRO even more into the social sphere.
There are case studies of big social media successes – you don’t hear of the small ones. The one we had was a small one, but there must be many more like that which do not make the news. Have you had one which you can share?
Finally, with all the positive stories, it amazes me that there is such a small presence by Oracle in the social networking space, compared to similar-sized organisations – SAP, Microsoft, IBM etc. I can only think that it reflects an incredible need for control in that company.