Anyone who is involved in discussions with colleagues over Facebook at Work (I imagine many of you are the same ones that deal with the Slack discussions) here is an informative article around progress on the product.
I echo the authors comments around building relationships and community as a driving force for new ways of and Facebook at Work does have nice features.
However, no communities or relationships within an organisation sit in isolation from the way work gets done or linked to its strategy, processes, workflows, campaigns or initiatives. You could spend time integrating Facebook at Work with search but eventually you will need to leave Facebook at Work to deal with the outcomes of the communities and relationships.
The benefit of O365 is the increasingly ‘seamless integration’ with other capabilities that may be needed as a result of the community outcomes. For example, files uploaded on Yammer will be hosted on SharePoint. Conversation on Yammer could bleed into a Skype Teams call. Videos displayed on Yammer will play through Stream. There is linkage to Office apps, O365 Groups etc. All activity will be understood and surfaced via Delve. The need to leave O365 becomes increasingly unlikely within the collaborative process.
The compelling narrative behind O365 will be the seamless integration with the way people collaborate, not just building community and relationships, but in group work, file sharing, communicating and other collaborative activities.
One things I strongly agree with thought is “It’s not the tool but the people and programming that make enterprise social a success.”
My bias comes from a people centric perspective (rather than document or process centric) so I’ll be interested to hear other folks opinions, especially if you have been involved in a Facebook at Work trial.
I’m sure Microsoft brought LinkedIn with a specific purpose in mind although it wouldn’t be the first time they know something is good, buy it and they figure out what to do with it!
It sometimes reminds me of some of the mega-rich English Premier League clubs who buy in talent that have very little to do with the current style of play, sit them on the bench and wait for a situation to arise when it becomes clear why they brought them in the first place – or just serendipity!
I would like to think that Microsoft see the future value of collaboration around new ways of working is not to just support the current hierarchies and structures of an organisation. In essence that’s what most of O365 does in supporting this structure of group working around file uploads, storage, document production etc. All important stuff but does nothing to drive innovation and new wealth / value creation.
Where the value creation comes is from building networks, relationships and communities, nurturing new behaviours and processes and blending diversity to create new ways of working.
Yammer and Delve begin to achieve this inside the organisation and adding something like LinkedIn gives an organisation the opportunity to source content, connections and resources far beyond their current network.
I’m thinking of an example where a project manager can initiate a new project and Yammer / Delve (whatever these channels would be called in the future) to source ideas, content, connections and resources from within the organisation and then get seamless connectivity to a LinkedIn type resource (professional and educational) to source gaps or enhancements to the knowledge they have within the organisation. It changes not just the potential reach but also the relationships organisations have with professionals. It would also increase the diversity of thought that an organisational begins to call upon, ideally making it far more social, transparent, agile and democratic.
Microsoft are now looking to compete with Slack.
In the article it mentions how they fail to see what the future of Yammer would be and they struggle to see where it fits in. In my eyes they have completely different capabilities.
Yammer is about networking, relationship and community building. It enables discovery, innovation, crowdsourcing and engagement that potentially involves hundreds and thousands of colleagues.
You would struggle to do that with Slack or Skype teams. The key word here is teams. Skype Teams would work well with defined, identifiable colleagues – in essence building around existing hierarchy and structures.
With Yammer you discover and network with people and groups you never knew existed before, creating new ways of working through the diversity that can be attracted through discover.
Over the last few days I’ve looked at various approaches you can take to creating adoption of collaboration tools.
It’s important to remember that none are mutually exclusive.
Adoption by chance
- You can run a standard approach believing you may be the exception.
- Once you fail to gain adoption you can switch
Adoption by hierarchy
- You can structure a formal approach but if roadblocks and delays are occurring (scheduling workshops, factfinding etc) then begin with a social approach for early quick wins
Adoption by ‘social’ (tribes and communities)
- If your social approach spreads success quickly you may wish to consider how to align the organisation with a ‘mini formal approach’ to deal with leadership requests
And you can also try a concurrent approach
To maximise the chances of success you could run both a formal and social approach (bottom up and top down), ensuring awareness, sustainability and rapid quick wins
Colleagues that are thinking of how to strategically deploy Yammer are starting to ask questions around metric packages that will provide some of the traditional measurements around online sites.
In terms of ‘measurement’ here are some of the basic criteria you could use to benchmark participation and activity within the communities based on attraction, attention and adoption:
- Total number of users
- Number of new users per week
- Number of new posts, threads (plus response), ideas, blog and other content
- What are members doing in the community?
- What are the popular trends in posts?
- What resources are being used?
We still see the benchmark of activity as something which should be measured. But the value of the activity is something which stakeholders rarely ask for.
As a Yammer network matures leadership begin to realise how it can be used strategically and the ‘ask’ for measurement begins to look at the value of the relationships and communities that are being developed. Generally, they would look for articulation around:
- Social Knowledge – this can be defined in many ways such as assets being shared around a community (and beyond) and related practices emerge.
- Relationship development – the ability to create new relationships and networks that previously didn’t exists
- What collaborative activities are emerging?
- What threads, replies, comments or connections contain referrers to potential collaborators
- What threads contain creative or innovative ideas
- Are members sharing personal stories and how much emotional support is provided
Some of the questions I ask to evaluate these items would include:
- % of members / users which make a contribution
- Members active within the past 30 days
- Contributions per active member and the value of these contributions related to the purpose of the community
- Content popularity
- Number of relationships created by individuals – look at followers and participation in threads
- Discovery of communities – have members joined communities outside their ‘physical’ or existing network
The default Yammer analytics will not provide this type of information and much of it will be antidotal evidence. Social analytics are poor within most social tools (it will be a major revenue stream for a vendor that can start to provide some of the softer metrics that articulate quality and not just quantity).
To measure the value of the relationships and transparency created by the individuals, groups and communities residing on Yammer we still need to conduct a lot of manual digging to find measurement around such artefacts as:
Over the years of working within companies here is my list of useful metrics from ‘mature’ Yammer networks that have developed from basic ‘microblogging platforms to integrated work process and social business / learning platforms (the need for ‘measurement’ moves from attraction to outputs from relationships).
You may not think these type of metrics will be useful now but fast forward 18-24 months and these will be the type of measurement leadership will be asking for:
- What % of newcomers remain members for more than a month
- Speed of replies to discussions. How quickly are discussions receiving a reply? The faster the responses, the higher the level of social presence within the community and the greater the level of participation
- The % of newcomers which initiate a discussion. This highlights whether newcomers may be unmotivated or intimidated to start discussions
- Do members’ interactions have continuity and depth. (Are members engaged in productive, on-going, interactions?)
- What collaborative activities are emerging?
- What documents, tools, resources, or other artefacts are created and utilized. (How are these useful to the members?)
- Is the community providing value for its sponsors?
- Is participants’ involvement in the community affecting their professional practices and learning
- What are the on-going practices and processes that contribute to the “life” of the community and keep members engaged?
- How is knowledge being shared within the community? Beyond the community?
- Are leaders or roles emerging in the community? In what ways? How are they being cultivated?
- How are members being supported in the community?
- How are members contributing? Posting? Replying? (When? How often?)
- What are the prevalent patterns of interactions?
- What is the proportion of new topics that get 5+ replies? The percentage of new blogs at get 5+ comments? The percentage of (video, audio, lesson plan, etc.) uploads that get 50+ downloads or 5+ comments?
- What proportions of new topics or new blog posts are un-responded to or uncommented on (an important measure of the responsiveness of the community, which in turn affects key factors like trust)?
- What is the average new (topics, replies, blog posts) created per member?
- What are the emerging benefits of the community for members?
- What is the average number of “followers” that community members list or have collected in/on their member profile pages?
- What are the proportion of topics or replies that specifically relate to the practice?
- The proportion of replies where links to potentially helpful resources or other referrals are provided
- The proportion of replies to a post in which helpful or constructive advice is directly provided
- The proportion of replies that build on previous posts (as opposed to just responding to the original poster)
- The proportion of replies that contain offers of collaboration or introductions to potential collaborators
- The proportion of replies that contain creative, novel, or innovative ideas
- The proportions of replies that summarize, distil, or synthesize prior posts/replies
- The proportion of posts in which community members show or express vulnerability, such as a lack of domain knowledge
- The proportion of posts in which community members share personal stories
- The proportion of posts in which community members are (emotionally) supportive or helpful to other members
Following on from the ‘Adoption by Chance’ approach an alternative if the ‘Formal Approach’ or adoption through hierarchy (and highly recommended if you were even thinking of taking the ‘Adoption by Chance’ approach).
The formal approach is based on:
- Engagement through leadership / key stakeholders
- Implement a formal approach (defining and delivering) to educate on the collaboration technologies.
- Refine approach and collateral as the programme develops
Adoption through hierarchy
- Understanding of the ‘What, Why, How’ of the technology from a leadership perspective and ensuring they are fully aligned
- Colleagues ‘on the same page’ and at the same stage of the journey
- Knowledge of all available materials
- Formal support process
- Increased ability to maximize the applications available – larger number of use cases surfaced
- Ability to get access and collaborate across all areas of the business
- Comprehensive approach
- Slow and time consuming – early motivators may lose interest
- Pace set by leadership or project team – not the users
- Too much detail – information presented won’t necessarily be applicable to all
- Too rigid
- Loss of interest increases and users drop interest of the ‘journey’
- Rational approach but doesn’t appeal to emotional interest
- Potential to be exclusive and siloed
Having looked at 3 very different approaches to adoption of collaborative technologies here is my take on the drawbacks and merits of each.
Today we start with the ‘throw it over the fence’ approach. I would suggest this is generally favoured by IT folk who need to ‘get it out there’ and their focus is not on sustained usage or business value.
Success is generally low and adoption is by chance
• Self-contained, no need to engage with other areas of the business prior to deployment
• Low cost – little resource required
• Enables rapid deployment
• Creates an enterprise-wide awareness (if communication channels are effective)
• Enables a swift campaign to be executed
• Meets immediate technology enablement requirements
• Awareness does not guarantee engagement with tools
• Little understanding of how they can be utilised
• Little control over how the business will use it
• Little adoption once early motivated adopters have been engaged
• Little adoption or engagement once campaign has finished
• Little sustaining or legacy behaviours in place
• All behavioural change is by chance or self-understanding