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Engagement: The next step in social business software

In my daily browse of Mashable, this popped up: HOW TO: Engage and mobilize Facebook fans beyond the “Like” and made me think that this is a good example of how public communities and social networks can be used to teach a HOW TO for social software.  Here is my take:

1. Profiles: Facebook, Twitter,, LinkedIn and so on have made HUGE shifts in building out the profiles within their sites.  This is something I have been a big proponent of for a long time with Social Business Software (SBS) and products like Lotus Connections and Jive have always done a nice job helping users start with this easy win within enterprises.  When one of the “sells” of SBS is the ability to find that “right person” – profiles is where this rubber hits the road and the latest versions of Connections and the soon-to-be released Jive 5 blows this out of the water.  For some companies this is THE use that sells SBS.

2. A plan: Yes, you need one.  And this was part of the Ah-Ha moment from Mashable’s article.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been on a call or on-site with a client/prospect who said, “We tried this in 2006 with ___insert product here _____ and it never took.”   And when I took a look at their company/community engagement plan or roadmap, it wasn’t there.  As much as you think, because you are the champion of this and as much as you get “wow, this is cool” when you engage business in demos of SBS, that just getting it up and taking a “build it and they will come” philosophy it usually doesn’t work.  Whether its a roadmap, engagement plan or whatever you want to call it – you need to have a plan to take this business tool from an IT deployment to a working and living business tool that has best-practice examples of communities, profiles, blogs, wiki’s and so on.  You need a plan that will get you from a simple profile build and a few communities/wiki/blogs to a flourishing internal social network and avoid having it die on the vine.  This is similar to and part of our Enable Methodology here at Perficient.

3. Governance: Hugely important though often a step-child to the collaboration enablement process.  I try to bring these folks, whether formalized within an organization or maybe the HR generalist who coordinates policies with a company, because they are one of two parties that usually can put a stop to just about any project.  Leadership is very aware (scared, too) of what people can do internally and externally.  Likely and hopefully, your company has some email, blogging and external internet policy and really it can be as simple as taking those and extending to SBS or maybe your company has a history of small groups informally forming under the radar.  SBS is a tool  that allows the informal groups to become less formal – which is good.  This may be a golf league or it may be a group of engineers that have some R&D “idea jams” on their own or on company time.  Its good to deal with these scenarios ahead of time and also have a candid conversation about these policies being fluid.  In the last year SBS has changed a lot and will continue to do so and by allowing governance stakeholders to know that these policies will likely change more frequently it allows for expectation and processes to be set up to handle these quick-changes.

4. Security: Party number-two that can stop a SBS project – in my book.  Groups, directories, integration, mobile access, SSL, encryption and more.  These folks control these functional areas likely. These functional areas can bring a SBS project to a halt unless security is part of securing the application and data from the get-go.  Again, security usually knows of a project happening but they usually come in as the project has surpassed the requirements phase and usually come in prior to a pre-build discussions – when network ID’s, SSL and application ID’s might be needed (yesterday!).  I find that when security is brought in early the tend to be more agreeable and actually find that they tend to be champions along with you.  Good thing about that, senior leadership tends to hold security in high regards.

This is collaboration. I point out two enterprise functional domains to make sure you include from the start, but remember this is collaboration.  These people, and all stakeholders, are part of the decision – a collaborative one at that – not the sole decision makers.   Decisions will come from thoughtful requirement gathering and business engagement which will dove-tail into an amazing vision and enablement process.  That process is a fluid one that – like a scrum – gathers, develops, tests, deploys, gathers…and so on.  To steal a cliche:  Collaboration is truly the journey and not the destination.  You will see more than ROI. You will see a generational knowledge gaps close, you will see leaders and HERO’s pop up, you will see projects go smoother, you will see your organization transform into a more sustainable one.

Thoughts on “Engagement: The next step in social business software”

  1. Pingback: Your Telephone Directory of the future is a Social Network | Portal Solutions Blog « Digital Naiv – Stefan63's Blog

  2. I completely agree with your comments. Once companies realize how useful
    Social Business Software is to a company, they will be requesting more
    features to add to their social software. Our company started with the Akeni
    IM software but we have moved to their Akeni Social Networking Software and
    our users uses the system all the time.

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Jonathan Distad

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