Your boss walks into your office with an exciting, but vague new project.

“Remember how the CEO asked us to find a way to increase employee communication, engagement, and productivity? Well, we just purchased a new social software package that will do just the trick, and I’d like you to personally head up the project.”

While you’re thrilled about the opportunity to drive a new, important, visible company initiative, you can’t help but think about the previous social network that’s still (barely) kicking around.

In my experience, there are five key pitfalls that can slow or kill the adoption lifecycle of your new enterprise social network. Here’s a list of those pitfalls and some recommendations on how you can overcome those issues:

 

1. Lack of vision (a.k.a. Why do we need this?)

When implementing an enterprise social network, the first thing you want to define is the company’s vision for social collaboration. It might be that you want your employees to be able to share information and feel more connected. While this may sound reasonable, it could be a red flag that the project is doomed to fail.

The problem with this vision is that it’s vague and nebulous. How do you measure if employees feel more connected? What value does sharing information provide to the business? Why would an employee want to share information, anyway?

The net result is that no one gets excited about driving the project and no executive is motivated to provide the budget, resources, and evangelism required to make it a success. This social experiment never moves out of the ideation phase.

The best way to get the organization excited is to show how social networking can transform the business and help everyone achieve their goals.

How do you do this at a practical level? Find a killer use case for social collaboration that can be the key success factor for a critical business initiative.

Take the retail industry, for example. Many times, store associates are fantastic at operational activities such as stocking, setting up displays, or answering customers’ questions. However, how good are they at selling high-value services or increasing average cart size?

One chief operating officer decided that the SAP Jam Collaboration social platform would be instrumental in driving increased sales per store. So the company created a product-of-the-month initiative, where employees viewed a video on how to sell and position a product. What happened next was amazing. People who normally had difficulty communicating were sharing ideas and experiences on how to best position the product with customers.

SAP Jam Collaboration comes pre-built with many of these killer use cases or work patterns. Across learning, onboarding, sales, and service, these work patterns are designed to drive important business metrics such as employee engagement, sales cycles, and service resolution times.

 

2. Poor user value proposition (a.k.a. What’s in it for me?)

Imagine you get an e-mail from your vice president that says she’s started a new project to drive better employee connection and communication. You spend 10 minutes reviewing some interesting videos and Web links. Suddenly, two nagging questions pop into your mind: “How does this help me do my job better?” and “What’s in it for me?”

Many social initiatives get an initial spike in activity that dies off and never returns. If members don’t see a good reason to come back, you’re left with a bunch of social ghost towns on your hands.

The secret to success is to design the group so it provides users recurring value. You want social collaboration to become an indispensable tool for helping an employee get his or her job done.

Make sure to identify the key challenges an employee may be having. Take the professional services industry as an example. These folks are on the firing line with customers daily. They need to answer hard questions about complex technology solutions. Their challenge is getting the information to do their jobs more effectively, quickly, and easily.

SAP Jam Collaboration provides many of the tools you need to build social groups with recurring value. Action widgets help you highlight how to execute the most important tasks. The event widget enables you to promote all the great Webinars and events that are forthcoming. Most importantly, your team has all of the information it needs to succeed long-term.

 

3. Fear of transparency (a.k.a. Frozen by fear)

While helping a company set up some game-changing groups for IT, finance, and field technicians, an alarming e-mail arrives:

“We need to delay our deployment. Corporate does not want all employees to have two-way communication. They don’t feel the organization is ready.”

This is a politically correct way to say, “We are scared.”

Fear of using social collaboration can happen at the company, management, and user levels. Management is concerned about what disgruntled employees may say, while employees are worried about what peers and management will think about their contributions.

Banking is an industry that is conservative and rightly vigilant with data privacy and security. In order to begin the culture shift for social collaboration, one bank created several continuous learning groups for specific departments: credit, commercial, risk rating, and private wealth. These were private groups with tight security settings. Employees felt comfortable because they knew the members of the group. Management was comfortable because the deployment size was limited.

The bank carefully monitored the groups for any policy violations. To their delight, they found that e-mail had many more violations than the learning groups. This is in line with our experience across our customer base. Open transparency creates an incentive for positive, collaborative behavior.

SAP Jam Collaboration provides all the tools you need to put security measures in place and enable incremental expansion. Compliance dictionaries and end-user flagging allow you to monitor and remove any activity that violates corporate policy. Subgroups, private folders, and content controls ensure that data is treated with the proper security.

 

4. Limited visibility (a.k.a. Best-kept secret)

A chief learning officer could be thrilled about the success of social learning in her organization. It’s possible that course completions double and students report a great learning experience with high retention. This is all fantastic news, of course, but what about the rest of the company?

To drive the value of social collaboration across the organization, you need to take this initial success and show sales, marketing, and customer service how they can also transform their business functions. The value of enterprise social networking increases exponentially when it becomes embedded in business processes across the organization.

One telecommunications customer started using SAP Jam Collaboration within its learning and communications group to drive employee engagement. The company then became proactive in brainstorming and developing use cases to serve other parts of the business. For example, SAP Jam Collaboration became a mobile knowledge support tool for technicians in the field. IT began using it for project collaboration, while the real estate team communicated and tracked major initiatives. Demonstrating value and provisioning all employees led to thousands of groups being created. Social collaboration had become part of the corporate culture. The company is now looking to extend the solution to sister organizations and their channels, including both corporate and independent retail shops.

SAP Jam Collaboration is designed to be accessible from any business or desktop application. Given the fact that it can be integrated with SAP SuccessFactors, Microsoft, or SAP applications, that means that social collaboration can be embedded in any business process. Finally, SAP Jam Collaboration work patterns represent real pre-integrated examples of how all business units can transform their business processes.

 

5. Expensive governance (a.k.a. How do we support this?)

A common question I’m often asked is, “How do we support this?”

IT will typically assign a resource part-time responsibility to get social collaboration launched, but they want to quickly reduce their support costs. They become concerned when they realize that this is a solution that all employees will be using on a regular basis.

If we want social collaboration to become part of the corporate culture, we must scale the support and maintenance of the solution.

There are several ways to distribute the administration and support of SAP Jam Collaboration. For instance, you can minimize administrative overhead by creating an open governance model. In this model, everyone is provisioned and anyone can create a group at any time. SAP Jam Collaboration support groups provide end users with how-to guides, videos, best practices, FAQs, and product documentation.

SAP Jam Collaboration supports this model with the ability to delegate administration to business champions and, therefore, remove the dependency on IT. Custom templates mean that corporate standards can easily be propagated throughout the organization.

 

Begin your collaboration journey today

Now that you understand what’s required to drive enterprise social networking success, there is no reason not to get started now. You can be up and running within days.

These best practices and lessons learned from our customers will help ensure your success. Simply view the SAP Enterprise Support Value Maps. You will find a comprehensive methodology as well as workbooks on how to select, design, deploy, and measure your groups. The community is ready to answer your questions and guide you to success!

I also encourage you to download this Forrest Consulting report to learn about the total economic impact of SAP Jam Collaboration.

Follow SAP Social Software on Twitter: @SAPSocial

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1 Comment

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  1. Richard Blumberg

    Many great points here… Recurring value for users. Distributing group administration and content contribution to business (& subject matter expert) champions. Excellent insights. Thanks for sharing! 

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