When I look at reasons given by organisations for the failure of their Enterprise Social Software project to deliver any success or value (whether this is adoption or return on investment or engagement) I still hear the same issues around poor adoption, cultural issues specific to the organisation, change management, alignment to business needs etc. You could date stamp this as ‘2010’ and the issues haven’t changed.

It still amazes me that in 2015 organisations are struggling to get value from social software despite a reliable ‘recipe’ now being known.

All consultancies both large and small have a framework which is pitched to potential clients that will deliver various degrees of success – but success nevertheless.

Every software vendor has similar material that it will tell clients prior to any adoption programme how to get success (actually an interesting exercise would be to look at how the vendors have changed their ‘tune’ from 2008 onwards by looking at how their client adoption material has changed from ‘just plug it in’ to more strategic thinking).

I would also suggest that the vast majority of organisations that deploy Enterprise Social Software have an understanding or at least an awareness of what needs to be done – and I speak from a perspective or having sat on both sides of the table (industry and consultancy) and I would estimate that 90% plus of people I have dealt understand this.

But despite all this material a large majority of organisations appear to ignore the recipe.

I’m trying to find a simple analogy to compare this with so let’s try cooking.

If I were a chef (the ‘sponsor’ of the deployment) and I wanted to make a paella (deploying the tool) and I have a known recipe on how to make paella (the vendors material, consultants material, freely available material online etc.); then why do I think my paella will turn out fine if I refuse to use some key ingredients like the correct rice, saffron, paprika, wine etc. (change management, governance, use cases etc.)?

Some may be down to cost; some may be lack of knowledge – but wouldn’t you look at the recipe before you start!; some may be down to stubbornness (you deployed other tools before and your way has always worked) but I believe in many cases it’s down to the simple fact that most sponsors are purely concerned with plugging it and making sure it works from a technical perspective – and not appraised on the engagement or value it brings. No different to a chef not being appraised on how good the paella is but the fact they have served up a plate of rice that is dressed up as paella but has none of the taste.

Unless the success criteria is driven by engagement and value – which often happens a number of months into the adoption phase then organisations will continue to cite the same issues with their Enterprise Social Software.

The vendors realised their business model needs to change – not so much about selling licences every 5 years but seeing their software being adopted, adapted to working ways and providing value.

Few areas of an organisation focus on how engaged their workforce is with the ‘service’ provided but this will change. It will eventually filter down to project teams that are built to deploy social software.

In my ideal future world deployments will focus on behavioural change rather than just technology change in order for social software to be a success.

A project team for future deployments will have a very different line-up. The focus won’t be around IT Project Managers or business analysts but instead recruit business psychologists, community developers and social network analysts to ensure social software success.


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