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Empower and motivate through social and analytics

 
imageGraham Kittle, IBM Global Business Services
 
@grahamgk


 
 
 



In my previous blogs, I have referred to Social Business as being more than ‘ Tweets and likes’ and I explored IBM CEO Ginni Rometty's statement in her recent speech to the Council on Foreign Relations that 'Social is the new Production Line'.  In this blog, I would like to take these concepts further and discuss:

 
 




  • How we can harness analytics and democratization of data to motivate and empower a Smarter Workforce?
     
     




  • How Social Business and business analytics can facilitate knowledge sharing and ‘giving’ attitude at the workplace and therefore help accelerate the vision of social as the new production line?


 
 
I should point out that in writing this blog, I sought the input of some of the many bright, up-and-coming consultants which I have the privilege to lead.  Where able I included their ideas and thoughts to help paint what I firmly believe is an optimistic and motivating future.


 
 
As Ginni has suggested, the power of analytics is helping to usher in the end of 'average'. Analytics-based approaches are being applied with great imageimpact to better market to and serve customers. In the new world, organizations can send individual customers specific communication on a product or service based on an intimate knowledge of personal desires and preferences. With the customer's permission, the same organizations may also leverage real-time location and behavioral data for a more personalized affect.  Where will this lead us? Succinctly put in his recent HBR Blog discussing the future of marketing, futurist Gerd Leonhard predicts 'advertising becomes content. Data becomes essential'.


 
 
This notion of the 'end of average' can be equally relevant in many areas of organization’s success.  For example, companies can apply analytics within an organization to develop high performance teams, hire and retain top talent and much more. As IBM recently stated in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, "Because when people are more engaged, inspired and fulfilled by their work, they can be more productive, innovative --- and ultimately create more value for the companies that employ them."


 
 
In my experience and that of the consulting team I lead, analytics and access to data can be a very powerful enabler of 'smart' in workforces across the globe


 
 
I enjoyed reading a recent blog by my colleague Tim Geisert from Kenexa, an IBM company which discussed how analytics can be used to attract and recruit top talent, and source the best people for an organization's culture and business needs. Organizations can determine the right roles to achieve certain outcomes and confidently fill these spots with the right people.  Matching people to roles more precisely will result in higher job satisfaction and engagement, greater retention and considerably higher workforce productivity.


 
 
In the future analytics may also be applied in the workforce to match people to a certain task, well beyond the success rates of popular psychographics testing approaches sometimes used for similar purposes.  With this new approach, matching may be based upon a rich history of an individual's skill levels, experience, approach to problem solving and even work style preferences, across multiple roles and employers. This takes the concept of applying analytics to match people to employer further, using deep insight to apply precisely the right skills to a given task.  


 
 
In recent years we have witnessed what I consider the very positive advent of the term 'data democratization'.  This notion shifts the distribution of data to the workforce, making information more accessible to end users who previously may have had to rely on a team of analysts who may only have provided partial insight into a particular issue or scenario.  I believe the concept of data democratization is a critical key to social becoming the new production line.


 
 
The application of analytics in and of itself is greatly empowering in helping businesses gain insight based on fact not ‘gut’. If data is no longer tightly held centrally and instead is ‘democratized’ or distributed to end users, a workforce can be empowered with the knowledge to develop a greater level of autonomy, valuable business insights and more timely decision making.  Using analytics to provide 'what if' data visualization on the desk top and easy-to-digest dashboards creates a profound advantage and can ‘turbo charge’ the positive impact of data democratization in building a Social Business.
 
 



In his recent book 'Give and Take', Adam Grant of Wharton refers to the long-term advantages of giving and sharing in the workplace.  I subscribe to the view that the application of analytics in the workplace makes sharing and giving easier and also more potent.  Applying a Social Business lens to Grant's concept, consider for a moment traditional (and thankfully increasingly out-dated) thought on knowledge management and organizational psychology.  It had been long considered that most employees acted in their own self-interest, and in order to 'win' were more inclined to hoard knowledge, not share it.  Indeed until relatively recent times ‘knowledge is power’ (aka: hoarding) used to be a popular adage.  Fortunately the times and indeed knowledge management theory is changing.


 
 
While recent business sentiment and modern leadership philosophy is driving change through increased focus on workforce productivity, the challenge remains for many companies, to steer employees towards an optimal, mutual knowledge sharing outcome.  Knowledge hoarders or 'takers' in Grant's language, miss something important. In the short term, where one person shares and the other does not, then the outcome is the sharer loses out and the hoarder receives advantage. Fortunately, Social Business and the application of business analytics are accelerating the shift to giving and sharing knowledge.  In a social workplace what you contribute actually enhances your eminence within the organization.


 
 
As one up-and-coming star in the strategy consulting practice put it, "In the world of IBM Connections, for example, what I share adds to my profile and expertise for my professional network to see. If someone free-rides on my knowledge contribution, it is a negligible loss, compared to the eminence with which my peers perceive me - leading to personal gains in the future".



 





 

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