No plan and no chance


2013 appears to present the same issues as 2012 with organisations unable to get value from their collaboration platform. Yesterday I attended a session with a global fashion brand to discuss why they have failed to get any value from a collaboration / social business platform deployed over a year ago. Yet again the same issue emerge.

1 – Platform determined before any requirements were gathered (in fact there were no initial business requirements gathered after the technology was chosen!

2 – Only customisation is around brand and not the features or functions (in no small part due to no requirement gathering, use cases or user testing)

2 – The ‘IT project’ has deployed and everyone has a user ID but no-one has told employees what the business needs them to discuss and share (it doesn’t come without direction).

3 – After an initial burst of activity the platform now has some idle chat completely unrelated to business strategy

4 – There has been a complete failure in integrating the platform into the ways of working within the business.

The deployment of the technology is the simple piece. What is lacking to make any social business tool an effective collaboration and knowledge sharing tool are the elements that tie all these pieces together, namely the content (both in terms of structured and unstructured content and the relationships and networks that form around this content) and the ‘stewardship’ (I would sheepishly use the word ‘management’ but that wouldn’t be appropriate in the context of a social business tool). Any future deployment will soon hit a number of hurdles unless the following elements are developed.

1 – Develop a content strategy that covers social, intranet and other relevant applications – both organisational wide and within each group or community. Once you have an understanding of the type of content you need to mine, create, discuss and refine you may then want to create a group to look at categorising this.

2 – Develop a governance process to provide stewardship around the content – not the channel.

3 – Once the governance is establish you will ideally have work streams to enabling integration of content throughout the available channels (Social, Document Management, Intranet, ‘People directory’?). These may focus around:

·         Metadata – this will be needed to tie any social, document management and intranet content together to enable real enterprise value to be gained

·         Search – define a strategy to ensure the surfacing of content is possible

·         Content – maintaining the developed strategy and aligning all departments

·         Usability – ensuring all the channels develop a common standard (not just look and feel)

·         Connectivity – this relates to how we ‘connect’ all the common elements. This maybe be employee directory and social business tool bio or documents and users profile.

4 – Do the ‘boring’ ground work of requirement gathering, building personas, develop use cases that are integrated into the way people are working.

 5 – Start small with some simple use cases that can be supported. Have a phased approach to adoption that can be supported, building case studies as you go to support the business case. 

6 – Don’t sell the benefit of ‘removing email’ because until the various platform vendors solve issues around filtering activity streams people will still reply on email as there ‘go to’ application.


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