Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Research project: What's in a name?

Today, at simply-communicate we have officially announced a new internal communications research project conducted in partnership with Rachel Miller from All Things IC.

The study is called “What’s in a name? What do you call internal social media?”.

The aim is to explore what kind of terms companies and individuals use when referring to the adoption of social media inside their organisations. Are we talking about internal social media? Social collaboration tools? Enterprise social networking? Social business?...

What do we actually mean by using these terms? What are the key trends and uses of social media inside our organisations?

We believe that getting a better understanding on these topics would be beneficial to our businesses.

For this reason, we have created a survey which is open to anyone with an interest on the subject and internal communications profession.

I hope you too, will take part in it, by giving your valuable view and sharing the survey with others who, like us, could be interested in and might benefit from the research.

The questionnaire is made up of 20 questions and takes around 10 minutes to complete.

A paper will the final results will be shared next month as well as findings discussed by Rachel Miller at our simply-communicate's flagship conference on Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise, SMILE London, on 23rd September.

Thank you very much in advance for your co-operation!

Let's all together bring forward the fascinating world of social media inside the large enterprise!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Who said what this week?

Who said what on internal communications and internal social media this week?
Here are some insights and observations on the topics shared on the web.

Morrison makes an interesting point that I had not heard before about the introduction of social media: “Most comms technology started in business and then went to social use. Phones, faxes, computers, mobile – they all started as business tools that then got adopted and adapted for home use. Social Media is the first tool that started in the personal sphere and then went into organisations. And companies get very uncomfortable about that.”” - Marc Wright

As in all fields, the expanding world of digital has made a strong impact. One area to which top management must pay greater attention is communicating with their own employees effectively.” - Robert Leaf

As organizations begin to bring social strategies and tactics into their operations, the biggest challenge is the holistic aspect of the integration because it’s no longer about simply “doing social media” it’s about being a social business. You start to realize that the promise of social isn’t in the technology” - Brian Solis

Leading organisations are improving business results by integrating social tools with their business processes and applications, encouraging both open conversations and confidential ones to improve processes and, through social analytics, making the activities and knowledge of employees visible.” - Stuart McRae

When an organization chooses to become a 'social business', the divide between social-inside and social-outside should blur as more and more silos within the organization hopefully disappear, and as bi-directional connections to customers and prospects, partners and suppliers become more natural and more immediate.” - Julie Hunt

Find the link between social and actions...Make sure that social interactions are not noise on steroids but actionable messages (ideally actioned ones). Just keep in mind that value is not the result of sharing, awareness of knowledge. It’s the result of an action that is the consequence of awareness or knowledge.” - Bertrand Duperrin

Deploying tools that encourage open collaboration and idea sharing across and between organizations will be vital for attracting and maintaining the brightest sparks of this generation. This is a set of workers that wants to share their creativity, ideas and knowledge with others, as well as learn from those around them, so knowledge has to flow seamlessly across boundaries.” - Alastair Mitchell

Getting people to talk, with their managers, with their teams, across teams, on the issues that matter to them and their business. Survey after survey shows that this is the Achilles heel for many organisations. But, rather than find better ways of improving on what they already have, they opt to side-step it.” - Ghassan Karian

How can I reduce the volume of communication that I send or receive? What we really need is to improve how we analyze, organize, contextual, prioritize, and automatically action our communication channels.” - Marie Wallace

Social business leaders know that we are not a team because we work together. We are a team because we trust, respect and care for each other. Social business leaders leverage the power of culture, people, process, and technology to unlock the full potential of the organization.” - Vala Afshar

The social experience needs to be a full-circle where online exchanges are actionable and have an operational impact. Listening and doing need to be connected. Now that we are getting more comfortable with digital engagement tools, and the shine is wearing off on “likes” and “thumbs up,” we can start exploring the impact and returns of developing socially integrated organizations.” - Vanessa DiMauro

At its most basic level, organizational innovation is mostly about making stone soup. That is, getting everyone, everywhere, every day to make small unique contributions that when combined create something truly great.” - Jeff DeGraff

Communities aren’t so much about systems as they’re about people. People need recognition, role models, support, and much more to maintain the structure and vitality found in successful communities.” - John Stepper

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Social knowledge for internal communications

Social media have changed the way we communicate and interact with people and online communities on a daily basis. As a consequence of this, social media has helped to facilitate a new kind of knowledge, 'social knowledge'.

It is difficult to agree on one definition of social media, especially when it comes to business. Therefore, it is no surprise that even the term 'social knowledge' finds its challenges in terms of meaning. Yet, the phenomenon is here, and many are trying to answer the question 'What is social knowledge?'

This week I came across a definition given by Esteban Kolsky. He writes:

Tapping into communities and subject matter experts, social knowledge moves away from the traditional knowledge-in-storage model of accumulating “stuff” in knowledge-bases to getting the information directly from the knowledge owner that has it.
This knowledge is used, cataloged, indexed and used again – but only as long as it is the right answer – after that, new answers become “the right answer”.

Kolsky also emphasises that “knowledge is augmented each and every moment during usage; this is one of the driving forces for online communities”.

What I take from Kolsky's definition is that social media and online communities give us the opportunity to approach knowledge in a totally different way from the past – both in terms of creation and use. The collective knowledge that is generated through social media possesses the ability to be updated, fresh and accurate since “new answers become the right answer” all the times. Social knowledge is also immediately available and members of an online community can create and make use of it in the right context and for the right purpose.

When it comes to internal communications, considering the power of social knowledge inside organisations is certainly very relevant. Successfull implementations and adoptions of internal social media have been demonstrating this.

A recent study conducted by Professor Paul Leonardi of Northwestern University, proved that enterprise social networks can dramatically increase the ability of a company to find expert knowledge inside.

Leonardi comments that: To get access to certain people with a particular kind of knowledge or skill requires us to leverage a personal relationship. To be able to get the knowledge we need, it is important to know who has that knowledge as well as knowing who knows the person who has that knowledge. We call this 'meta-knowledge' – knowledge about what and whom people know. Meta-knowedge = knowledge about knowledge”.

Leonardi's experiment - conducted within a financial company with 15,000 employees over a six-month period - showed that an internal social network forges the potential of meta-knowledge and maximises internal communications, collaboration and productivity.

Another way of reflecting on social knowledge is through the studies by Harold Jarche, who suggests to look at knowledge through networks as an ongoing process of seeking, sensing and sharing.
Jarche reports that “by seeking, sensing and sharing on an individual basis, we create the building blocks for a dynamic community of knowledge workers, continuously pushing at the edges of our disciplines. This sharing and using of ideas is at the core of business innovation”.

Seeking: Using filters
In seeking, we need to develop effective filters so we are not overwhelmed by too much information... We can use human filters, such as asking a close colleague for a good source of information on a subject...Another option is to find a known expert in a field and ask him or her for advice...The best option is to connect with a network of expertise and corroborate advice from a variety of experts.”

Sensing: Validating, Synthesizing, Presenting, and Customizing
We make sense of data by using our existing knowledge to create more information...Making information public helps to validate it, as we can check references, analyze logic and compare sources...By treating information as grist for our cognitive mills, we can build knowledge bases that will help us get work done.”

Sharing: Joining a Community
Sharing is an essential part of network learning. Without it, we become islands of knowledge that cannot take collective action...The use of online media enables sharing and can result in exponential network effects. Because knowledge has no known limits, the potential return on investment in knowledge co-creation can be many orders of magnitude greater than traditional process improvement methods.

To conclude, social knowledge for internal communications is a critical area where internal social networks can show their potential. Employees looking for specific bits of knowledge have an open space where to rise their questions, and get answers from anyone within the organisation despite of business units and geographical locations. The transparency and visibility of the messages ensure open conversations where knowledge continuosly flows. When groups of employees need to collaborate and work on specific type of knowledge, enterprise social networks enables communities of practise and expertise to fill in this purpose.

More to come on this topic, which I find fascinating and will continue to explore.