Enterprise 2.0: A Business Case for Change | 3: Getting Real

Defining specific business cases will leverage social technologies to enable organizational change. Part 3 of 3.

In part 1 of this blog post series, we saw that Enterprise 2.0 is about much more than just replacing email with social technologies.

In part 2, we saw that:

  1. Enterprise 2.0 is a big deal
  2. Enterprise 2.0 is not a technology fix
  3. Social technology is a strategic enabler for organizational change

In this final part, we'll investigate how to move beyond fuzzy hand-waving social technology advocacy. What is needed, is to define specific and credible scenarios for combining technology and organizational change, in ways that can be readily implemented and will yield measurable improvements.

The recipe for success: identify a pain point that can be addressed by social software, target the relevant operating metric, and apply social software capabilities to improve the operating metric. Focusing on the operating metric aligned all levels of the organization to use the social tool to improve the metric.

Deloitte - Social Software for Business Performance

Get Real

Enterprise 2.0 being a big deal, with double-digit productivity improvements, means it should be relatively easy to define a convincing business case for deploying social technologies. A pretty convincing specific business case.

It doesn't suffice to say: "We've got an internal coordination problem. Let's roll out some Yammer." That's not going to solve anything, and those languishing Yammer deployments show up in our market research as "deployed social technology, but needs improvement".

Instead, take a look at where exactly the bottlenecks in your internal communications are most annoying. Email is being overloaded with supporting a lot of ad-hoc, sub-optimal decision making and information sharing. Digging in a bit will reveal painful examples of time wasting and miscommunication.

Ask Questions

For each of these examples, ask yourself:

  • Can this be done better by switching to social collaboration patterns?
  • What would the results look like?
  • How can we measure that?
  • Which constraints do we need to remove?
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • Who is going to resist this change, and why?
  • How can we support the transition?
  • What is the time frame required to obtain results?
  • Does this support our overall strategic objectives?

Only when these questions are answered, does it make sense to roll out a social technology that specifically supports this effort. The technology in itself is quite simple. It's the embedding into organizational change and organizational routines that is the hard work.

Answering the questions above provides the proper foundation for realizing success in social collaboration.

Focus On Business Value

Focusing on the business case first, defining Key Performance Indicators and taking the long view, has several advantages:

  • It keeps business goals center stage and frames the effort in terms that are readily understood by management;
  • It provides clear goals and context for the technology effort, enabling feature prioritization and cost control;
  • It guides a targeted effort, reducing risk and maximizing return on investment;
  • It keeps the change effort grounded in organizational realities;
  • It provides strong arguments to counter politically motivated obstruction;
  • It provides quantitative data to measure progress and evaluate the results.

What are your experiences in developing a business case for social technology enabled organizational change? Your comments are welcome below.

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