Social technologies & their applications

The report from the McKinsey Global Institute (July 2012) is an incredibly readable document that adds to the already heavy case for Social Media in business. However, it’s quick to lend a considerable amount of weight to the case for Social Media within internal communications, a facet that’s perhaps all-too readily dismissed.

“Two-thirds of the value creation opportunity afforded by social technologies lies in improving communications and collaboration within and across enterprises.” states the paper. These words may come as a shock to many who, as a knee-jerk response to the existence of Facebook have simply blocked the site entirely, removing ‘temptation ‘in an effort keeping productivity high. Social-media policies often consist entirely of the sentence “Employees are not permitted to use Facebook during work hours” and in doing so organizations seek to mitigate each and every risk with an all-out blanket ban. The advantages remained unexamined and untapped.

According to the MGI, the time has come to lift the blanket and to start to take a hard look at what Social Media can offer your organization from an internal communications perspective. Their research states that offering may well be a worker productivity increase by between 20 – 25%, and that savings might be from $900 billion to $1.3 trillion (!) for some sectors (although some scepticism is necessary here…).

So how does one go about tapping into that figure? Once you have lifted the ban, how can we promote productivity in our employees?

Within our inter-organizational training we talk a lot about policy and strategy. The two fundamentals of implementing a Social Media plan for an organization.

Policy is examined from both an internal and external perspective. Organizations look to mitigate risk with how staff members use their organization’s page, keep privacy under control and maintain appropriate work-life boundaries.

Strategy on the other hand is exclusively been an external concept, how can an organization connect with its stakeholders and in doing so create ROI? What are the types of content that need to be pushed out to the audience to create engagement?

Perhaps this report will prompt considering that the time has come to look at strategy from not only an external perspective, but internal as well.

Social Media can provide a lot of effective channels, not simply through Facebook but also through similar tools built specifically for inter-organisational use.

Tools such as Yammer (recently acquired by Microsoft), NewsGator, Chatter by Salesforce or Hexigo can be incredibly effective means for employees to communicate across distances and even between various departments, cutting down the time it takes to trace a specific person who may have access to a particular piece of information.

What we have always done is not necessarily what we should always do. And whilst the report is quick to insinuate that realizing the advantages of Social Media internally will require a great deal of transformation, failure to adapt will likely bring more disruption than adapting ever would.

Take a look at your organization and the way in which the staff communicate. Face to Face, via email or just over the phone? How effective is it? You may find that the right tools have simply been overlooked.