The technology is a response and until you find out what the issue is any response is pointless

Saw this on the Linkedin wires yesterday.

Enterprise social networks failing to meet expectations is hardly surprising news. Too often we approach the implementation of a ‘social network’ as a technology deployment and is managed and treated this way. The technology is a response and until you find out what the issue is any response is pointless.

Last week I spoke to a very large global bank who have deployed a social platform. It was a IT led deployment and they were having problems with adoption. When asking who the current users and communities were the response was they were all IT focused. I asked about the use cases, personas, key tasks etc that the platform was ‘social’ platform was meant to address. They have none. The focus was on deploying a product and then finding a need. Rather than asking better questions from the business, gaining greater insights and working with groups to define purpose and focus. The last 15 years of website development has shown that if you build it people won’t come. You need to find the need, propose a solution for the need and then work, in both the physical and social areas to ensure there is understanding and adoption.

No one says “lets get back to email” but everyone involved in creating a social enterprise has to ensure the approach is client centred, define actually benefits from the results and continue to sell the value proposition. In essence, step back from creation and look at curation – what do we want this to achieve. The business rules for introducing social are no different from any other successful adoption.

Some years back I worked with a large service line, within a global organisation, to successful deploy a social platform to coordinate the activity around their first Director conference. A key element was the group already had a defined structure with leadership and governance in place, essential when looking to progress solutions. The approach to the Knowledge Lead was not to introduce a new platform but to look at addressing their issue around garnering ideas and feedback from a widely dispersed group of very busy people.

Lots of time and attention was given to the sponsorship and governance of the potential solution before we even discussed the technology. We had to get the concept and purpose right, and also the topics. If people don’t talk about the topic already, you have the wrong topic. We worked on how a potential community platform could improve user end-to-end tasks, how it could provide direct solutions to business problems and needs and ensured we talked about it effected the bottom line. Not a mention of the platform name or technology until all these elements had been sold, together with some quantifiable, measurable impact on the success of the group. Importantly we also had a timeline and retirement strategy in place.

Social enterprises will only make an impact within organisations when people responsible realise it takes lots of work to understand what the pain points are within the business, what need a platform COULD address and talk about garnering greater insights into business issues rather than knock on the door with a ready made product looking for a purpose.


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