If you are a fan of college basketball, you are familiar with the “glue guy” concept. These aren’t the stars or NBA first picks… but they are the foundation of any great college team and without them, the teams fall apart. So what does that have to do with the business world?
Today’s big technology trends – cloud, big data, mobile, and social – are transforming businesses as we know them. But of these technologies, only social technology has the ability to serve as the glue that brings teams together, keeps information flowing, and helps deliver the results on which successful businesses innovate, grow, and evolve.
How can IT leaders make social collaboration their glue guy?
IT leaders globally are looking to get ahead of the demands of the business and of the users. Social collaboration can be the glue guy that helps IT leaders deliver world-class collaboration solutions, delight users and deliver business results. Read on for some great examples of just how this glue is delivering business results.
Embedded social where people work today
Up to this point, most enterprise social collaboration solutions were not attached to, or anywhere near back-end system data, such as employee profiles or sales opportunity data. They were provided as stand-alone solutions and because of this, adoption and usage didn’t live up to expectations. Now, the market imperative for leading IT departments is to provide social technologies where people work, directly in the systems and processes they work with every day. The following are some customer examples of how leading businesses are deriving unparalleled value through enterprise social technology.
Increase access and supercharge innovation
Connecting people from inside and outside the organization enables the sharing of information, data, and conversations, resulting in transformative collaboration and better business decisions. Groups can easily harness the wisdom of the crowd, gather ideas, and share key information. These workspaces also serve as a record of interaction history, ensuring that best answers and knowledge are preserved and highlighted for future use. Extending these capabilities within companies is critical in the emergent networked economy. Not to mention the great possibilities this introduces when thinking about using collaboration solutions externally for an extended business network.
For example, one company used social technology for a corporate taskforce that established a company-wide group to solicit ideas for simplifying execution on everything from technology to workspace configuration. Once ideas were submitted from across the company, the group discussed, prioritized and voted on the ideas. As a result, the entire employee community shares ownership in the solutions and their implementation.
Mobilize and connect the workforce
The success of a mobile workforce depends on the ability to collaborate without limitations, regardless of location. Mobile workers should be able to participate fully with activity feeds and group access, the ability to post comments, photos, and videos, and enhanced capabilities for finding and contacting employees. When workers are mobile, it is critical that they get real-time alerts that keep them in the loop, regardless of device. And as the Internet of Things expands, collaboration easily extends to these scenarios ensuring humans are notified and exposed to device activity for immediate analysis or action.
When a crisis hits, for instance, enterprise social collaboration solutions ensure that you can quickly connect the right people and content to manage the crisis. By connecting your marketing team with your external public relations teams, executives within your company, and data from internal systems, you allow them to efficiently discuss the crisis and put a plan in place to manage it. If someone is mobile, they need access to the discussions and data – and also need to be notified if the situation worsens or their sign-off is needed for action.
Extend existing IT investments with social collaboration
Today’s critical business information is stored in existing business systems that are used every day, such as systems for customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and supplier relationship management. One way to extend these existing investments is to incorporate enterprise social collaboration capabilities into them. By doing this, you allow business users to structure their conversations better, make collaborative decisions, and respond faster to business-critical problems.
Sales teams using SAP CRM and integrated social collaboration can pull together an effective account team, collaborate on account strategy, and find the right experts in the company when needed. Sales teams using this type of technology are seeing a decrease in deal cycle time of over 20%[i].
Increase IT responsiveness
Enterprise social collaboration technology can IT to respond faster to changing business needs by providing a foundation that enables your IT staff to better connect with business stakeholders. Working together, they can crowd-source innovations and collaborate on planning, project prioritization, and rollouts of technology initiatives.
On the operational side, IT departments are always looking for ways to improve their service levels for user support, service requests, incident management, and operational changes. Enterprise social collaboration technologies are being used to enable internal self-supporting communities. These communities share best practices, post questions and answers, and can be moderated by knowledgeable staff, thereby increasing their visibility and credibility. Companies are seeing a reduction in service request handling time of over 15% when using social collaboration for internal support.[ii]
Lower IT costs by leveraging the existing IT landscape
Every new technology trend needs to be evaluated carefully based on how it incorporates into the existing IT landscape. Enterprise social collaboration technologies are no different. Companies should avoid the costs associated with one-off, departmental, or personal solutions that are not integrated with the existing landscape. Solutions should, instead, be delivered across the entire business on a secure, cloud-based foundation – one that is tested and reliable and meets enterprise quality standards.
For example, integrating enterprise social technology with Microsoft SharePoint as the document repository allows team members to collaborate and innovate around documents without requiring a rework of existing systems. The integration also provides the ability to use the federated search capabilities of SharePoint, allowing users to search for content from within SharePoint, regardless of where the documents are stored.
By being the “glue guy”, social and collaborative technologies can help drive business results, increase collaboration and innovation, lower IT costs and workload, and revitalize existing business-critical investments.
To make the most of the new networked economy, IT departments should look to social technology to be the glue to tie together strategic investments in mobile, cloud, and big data, creating a social foundation for the enterprise that connects people, information, and processes – and drives business results.
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[i] SAP research, 2013, SAP
[ii] SAP research, 2013, SAP