Over the last year, I’ve been noticing a steady stream of new case studies and reports emerging from large companies that have implemented social media within their walls to improve workforce collaboration. This itself is not new of course: Social media has blossomed in the enterprise since its inception. However, the size, scope, and sophistication of many of these efforts are particularly worthy of a closer look. Moreover, the details contained within these stories — more than any abstract discussion or statistical survey — clearly conveys how social business (the systematic application of social computing to improve the way we work) has now arrived at global organizations.

There was a confirmation that social media not only had staying power, but was steadily growing in all aspects of the enterprise with the release a couple of months ago of McKinsey’s fifth annual Web 2.0 survey of enterprises. However this 30,000 foot view, as useful as it was for understanding the benefits and types of outcomes that companies were seeing in the large, obscured the specifics of what is actually happening organizations today as the Facebook/Twitter revolution moves into the daily work routine of our companies, large and small.

Clearly, there are results to be had if a broad swath of executives around the world are to be believed: Better productivity, lower travel and communication costs, higher customer satisfaction, more innovation, increases in both revenue and profit, faster access to knowledge, improved connection to internal experts and more. But in my discussions with organizations that have not yet made a concerted, organization-wide move to internal social media and/or a more social intranet, there is often difficulty in understanding where and how to apply social media to their business.

Internal Social Business (Enterprise 2.0) Lessons: Types of Communities

One of the biggest issues I’m seeing is that social media, when it becomes a company-wide topic, rather quickly draws in the involvement of HR, legal, compliance, corporate communications, IT, and at least a couple of representatives from the lines of business. This sudden “coming together” obscures the exact location of ownership of social within the enterprise. This, combined with the difficulties of coordination of cross-functional sign-off on the requisite policy, governance, technology, and process issues, can often bog down efforts before they ever really begin.

Just the SharePoint vs. (insert your favorite social business platform here) debate can take months, or even years, in large organizations. Worse, driving adoption of social business tools that are often perceived by some workers as optional, complete with side-by-side viral competition from the Yammer’s and Chatter’s of the industry, seems to make the way forward challenging indeed.

Finally, there’s tendency for:

1) general purpose social business adoption data to be too high level to be informative to those attempting to learn from those who went before them, and

2) for internal social business efforts (aka Enterprise 2.0) to trundle along in the clutches of a well-intentioned but too-often ineffective social media committee that tries to resolve every issue before moving forward.

The result: There frequently seems to be little to learn from until after all the mistakes have been made. Consequently, I thought it would be refreshing to examine more closely some of the more strategic and intriguing success stories that I’ve been able to discover in the last 24 months.

Source: ZDNet, By

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