10 Tips for Navigating Your Org with IBM Connections
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  tim_royle isw ibm connections
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Proof of concept, pilot, or evaluation, call it what you may, but most organizations nowadays are sticking their toe in the water before "going social".
For many, it's a big move. Transforming isolated data silos into a consolidated social platform that delivers outstanding collaboration and creativity benefits yet also challenges traditional reporting hierarchies may intimidate some. So, running a pilot is judicious.
Like most software implementations, social software is often piloted in a proof of concept before roll-out. This gives management and users confidence in the outcome as a viable solution, allows time for user acceptance testing and prevents any "issues" being rolled out to a broader audience. The solution can be fine-tuned post pilot and rolled out. Because social software is new, unique challenges apply and flexibility is essential.
Metcalfe's law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).
To be successful, the pilot group must be statistically representative of the planned roll-out audience. There is no point piloting a 10,000 user roll-out with 100 users. It must also be representative from a business function, geographic and demographic perspective.
2. What to include?
Pre-pilot workshops enable engagement with the platform and raise familiarity with functions such as: blogs, wikis, activities, forums, files and communities. Invite participants to present on ways that they think they could use the platform. This will identify individual applications, start the customization process and give participants a sense of ownership.
If social software is presented and used in isolation then productivity gains will not be as great. So, by finding easy points of integration with existing systems, users will find more social touch points. A good example might be CRM, where the benefits of an integrated “Social CRM” platform should be self-evident.
The IBM Connections in-place learning capability is great, but you should try to do more to help your users adopt the technology. A Support Community within Connections with a Discussion and Q&A Forum will help build an FAQ and support knowledge base.
What training will you provide or will you simply ask them to complete their profiles and rely on the fact that they know how to use Facebook?
How will you know if the pilot has succeeded? Break down the success criteria into measurable results. Note that the deployment of social software often results in unexpected business benefits. Users often define their own use cases, once they are given the tool to do so, in an effort to get their jobs done. Measure and report on these unexpected benefits too.
Pilot Group Workshop – before, during and after. Of course the “after” may not really happen as the roll-out of social software can be seen as a more natural, flowing process than the traditional stop/start approach of other pilots as users extend their networks and social memes spread virally.
The CEO and management team should be encouraged to leverage this opportunity to build team spirit and staff satisfaction by defining the branding of your social platform in a way that aligns with current organizational goals and objectives.
Once you have this direction from above engage pilot participants in a brainstorming workshop to flesh out this branding and your desired corporate messages and culture.
7. Define Roles and Responsibilities
Appoint Community Managers; they are key to success and drive collaboration around their area of expertise or responsibility. As communities grow, the role of the Community Manager is to steer their communities in the desired direction to achieve organizational goals.
Communities can be set up around any area of interest or business function. By structuring these Communities in advance and appointing Community Managers you will create a robust collaboration environment from the start.
8. Create a social, sharing culture
Some organizations are more “open” in their internal communications and collaboration than others. Consider the simple scale below and plot where you think your organization sits:
Some individuals are more open than others; a salesperson, for example, may choose not to share information because they see it as their intellectual property, their asset. A subject matter expert may be reluctant to share their knowledge because if they do so they feel less indispensable. The introduction of social software offers a unique opportunity to challenge “closed” environments and the potential to deliver fantastic bottom line benefits through the sharing of knowledge. Try to create a culture of sharing rather than hiding.
9. Manage and integrate social media
Social Media is the new public face of many organizations, and with this comes a direct accessibility that can have a down side when public opinion reacts unfavorably. It is important to integrate your social media presence into your internal social software environment. This streamlines the process of responding to inbound comment and creates a collaborative environment around the creation of outbound content.
Make as much noise as possible during the launch; explain “this is why we are doing this.”
IBM Connections enables improved collaboration and team spirit. These benefits are predictable, measurable, and will return a planned return on investment. Other benefits will be less predictable; often business benefits come from left field, and people use the platform in unexpected ways just to get the job done. It’s important to monitor this and define these new use cases as they emerge, they too will contribute to the success analysis.
“You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” –consider the use of a Measure and Reward system to inspire user adoption. Kudos Badges, www.kudosbadges.com is designed for IBM Connections and provides a configurable approach to measuring and rewarding users.
“Sogeti was one of the first companies in the world, as early as 2009, to implement Connections. Since then, the whole company has undertaken a fast-paced evolution towards becoming a social business by focusing strongly on the adoption of its platform, TeamPark. Today, proud of our 10,000 users, we have decided to boost this evolution by implementing Kudos Badges by ISW. Indeed, generating adoption and in-depth usage of the tool at the scale of 20,000 people spread across 15 countries is a challenge. We thus strongly believe that gaming power can attract more users but also can help our people to gain a better understanding of the tool’s functionalities and therefore improve the usage they make of it.”
Finally, lead by example. Adopt the framework yourself, interact, collaborate and show people how it’s done! Enthusiastic collaboration inspires more collaboration to the point where critical mass is achieved and a sharing culture spreads virally and pervasively throughout your organization.
Tim Royle is an Executive Director of ISW, Australian based IBM Premier Partner. ISW is an award-winning, pure-play IBM Business Partner that designs, implements, and supports solutions based on WebSphere, ICS, Tivoli, Rational, Information Management, and Cognos technologies. He has worked with IBM Collaboration Solutions since 1992 and has spoken at events such as Collective Intelligence, LCTY, AUSLUG, and Lotusphere. Tim is a member of the IBM Social Business social media IBM Redbooks team and spends his time focused on implementing successful social software solutions.
Tim is an IBM Redbooks Thought Leader