The Gravitational Pull of Enterprise Collaboration

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I attended the Enterprise 2.0 Conference this past week in Boston. My interest in the evolution of collaborative tools is longstanding, reaches back to managing distributed teams and the variety of tools I’ve used to facilitate virtual work. The ability to harness technology in a way to produce work more efficiently has been evolving quickly, and ways we are engaging with our colleagues (both internal and external to our companies), customers and clients has forever been changed.  What I saw this past week underscored how much technology has evolved in a short time span (across product integrators to enterprise solutions) and how in order to survive and thrive, leading organizations are establishing not just their social media strategies, but larger social business strategies as well.

Enterprise collaboration tools are an essential piece of social business strategy as they further dimensionalize our communication, information sharing and engagement with one another. Whether that’s leveraging tools to solicit employee ideas at all levels of an organization, producing documents that require multiple levels of input, or strengthening client and customer relationships by engaging in social conversations about how efficiencies can be achieved in the delivery of products and services. The days of senior leadership teams communicating corporate initiatives to employees and marketing products to clients as a one-way campaign is largely being eclipsed by the practice of bi-directional social engagement with employees and clients. And as we know, (thankfully) its flattened hierarchies, spurred innovation, fostered more authenticity and transparency, and pushed us to think more creatively about how we do business in a way where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Developing a social media strategy for business has primarily involved Twitter, Facebook and Linked In.  Social business strategy involves the integration of tools with existing (and often, redesigned) business processes that can help teams achieve greater results in all areas that touch the communications/supply chain: delivering content, real-time discussion and consensus building and decision making in a much faster way.  Social business strategy is also tied to workplace flexibility. They are mutually synergistic in the achievement of strategic business goals.  Since enterprise collaboration tools are vehicles through which the delivery of products and services are achieved, global teams (including clients/customers) can connect from anywhere, at any time, to achieve desired results and greater business value. Leading organizations who tie enterprise collaboration with strong work flex cultures (IBM, AstraZeneca, Akamai and many others) harness the full power of technology and marry it with a mobile workplace to create a more satisfied and productive workforce: employees achieve more control over their work and personal lives, and organizations thrive in being distributed, agile, collaborative places to work.

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