Making Knowledge Work

February 18, 2012

How Socially Mature Are You?

Filed under: Social Media, Strategy — virginiahenry @ 1:34 pm

The only Social Media Week event I managed to get to last week was Making Social Part of Your DNA, and this question – about Social Media maturity – was the theme.  The recurring exhortations were “listen and engage”.

The keynote speaker,  J.P. Rangaswami,  (Chief Scientist of Salesforce) spared us the PowerPoint slides, favouring anecdotes and examples instead.  Quoting Alan Kay – “The best way to predict the future is to invent it” – went down well, as did his belief that enterprise software should, and will, consist of 4 applications: publishing, search, fulfilment and conversation.   He reminded us that The Cluetrain Manifesto was first published at the turn of the century (and that he’s contributed a chapter to the 10th anniversary edition).  And for the rest of the day we examined, and took part in, the global conversation.

Emma Roffey from Cisco opted for a lot of slides, and a fair number of numbers:

  • By 2015 we’ll have an average of 3 connected devices each
  • 200 apps are downloaded per minute
  • 70% of all information has been created since the internet began
  • By 2013 90% of internet traffic will be video

OK, I’ll stop (but if you’ve an appetite for lists, here’s a link to more “Facts You Should Know”)
CISCO have made sure their 65 thousand employees enjoy an “Integrated Workforce Experience”. Their shared platform has personalised dashboards, rich profiles, workspaces and messaging to help worldwide teams collaborate (music to knowledge management ears!).  And they make extensive use of video-conferencing and video blogs.  When she was asked “what about the power of beer?”, Emma explained that CISCO did value face-to-face and informal meetings too.

Fergus Boyd from Virgin Atlantic talked about how their strategy, Sell – Serve – Socialise, means going to places people are talking about you and interacting.  It also means providing apps and information to serve customers’ needs.
He talked about the usefulness of Altimeter’s social maturity assessment, and of Forrester’s research.  As effective social media businesses value staff as brand representatives, Virgin Atlantic are training their staff – “looking inside as well as outside”.

Mind’s Digital Officer, Eve Critchley, explained how important social media was to charities and how hers was making use of Twitter and Facebook to reach people inexpensively and effectively.  Eve’s statistics were sobering

Unlike the teams in too many other charities Eve’s works hard to co-ordinate their activities with those of colleagues in fundraising and events.  Their Elephant in the Room on Facebook and their Twitter account help them reach people.  Making the most of scheduled tweets, and the support of their digital champions, helps them cope with the workload.

Clay Shirky  wasn’t in the stygian theatre, but, inevitably, he was quoted:  “It’s Not Information Overload. It’s Filter Failure”.  It was during Dell’s presentation, and their business is very serious about opening up to, managing and filtering the info-load.  I’m not sure precisely where Dell is on the social maturity scale, but not too many organisations have a ‘Social Media Listening Command Center’ or a social media university for their staff.   Social Media Manager, Kerry Bridge has been working with Neville Hobson to develop a social media toolkit for small businesses, adding to Dell’s impressive contribution to the global conversation.

Flying Binary’s CEO Jacqui Taylor  took us into the territory of Social Measurement Optimisation.  She talked about the importance of blended customer insights, profiled customer lifecycles and crowd-sourced innovation (using influencers to help develop products and services).  And she said the power of delighting people, by listening carefully and responding rapidly to their concerns, shouldn’t be underestimated.

Jacqui encouraged us to present data and stats to decision-makers in interactive, and mobile, form: making their experience immersive – enabling them to filter and view the information in the way they want, using any device they choose.  Inevitably they’ll be looking for ROI, so demonstrating that involving their staff (60-80% of an organisation’s costs) in increasing business impact through social media engagement is pretty important.

The subdued after-lunch mood was enlivened by Andrew Walker, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Tweetminster.  His message was that authenticity is an important influencer and Return on Engagement (yes, there’s a book on it) is the way to go with social media.  The Tweetminster team were quick to recognise that Twitter provides a useful ‘indicator of intent’ and offers, among other things, a continually-updated source of editorial recommendation (“if he/she’s reading or following that, it must be worth looking at”).  The click-through rate – 10% of Twitter links, compared to 2% of banner ads – seems to support that view.

A recommendation from Andrew: check out the IAB Framework for measuring social media effectiveness.

Jake Steadman, Head of Social Media Insight, Business Intelligence at O2 and Francesco D’Orazio,  Research Director and Head of Social Media at Face had the prettiest slides of the day.

Recognising that consumers’ relationships are with other consumers rather than brands, they’ve been busy doing lots of analysis of interactions and interests to inform O2’s social media strategy.  They’ve gleaned insights around what people Tweet about, and how subject and focus change at different times of the day (afternoons are good for competitions apparently), and at different times of life.   You can view the presentation on the Face site.

The last speaker was Robert Wint.  He’s Head of Digital Marketing at Barclays and is justifiably pleased about taking the bank into the Twittersphere (@BarclaysOnline).
There are nearly 800 followers and, so far, the senior suits (whose by-in was, of course, essential) are content.  Regular reviews of their interactions with customers are informing their training and service improvement, and the insights they’re gaining are adding to their knowledge-bank.  What’s been surprising, Robert told us, are the types of dialogue they’ve been engaged in.   Customers have seen their Twitter presence as a new channel for issue resolution – having tried the usual customer service routes, they’re turning to @BarclaysOnline – so the team are finding themselves dealing with quite detailed issues.  Undaunted, they’re planning to scale to a 24/7 Twitter service and looking to Facebook and YouTube to expand their virtual reach.

There was a panel debate to end the day – about whether marketing, PR or advertising departments “owned” social media – but by then I’d reached engagement saturation!  And, in truth, it seemed a somewhat irrelevant discussion, as we’d all been saying all day long that social media should be pervasive – that all employees are ‘brand ambassadors’.  After all it only the insiders who see the silos.

August 16, 2011

Strategy for Success

Filed under: Change Management, Knowledge and Information Management, Strategy — virginiahenry @ 12:54 pm

If you specialise in knowledge and information management, you get used to being asked by clients and colleagues “how do you make people share their knowledge?”   And you get used to finding ways of gently saying “you can’t”!

The question often arises in a situation where:

  • The organisation wants to introduce, or improve,  knowledge-sharing and collaboration across its business
  • They’ve invested in a technical KIM “solution” such as an organisation-wide intranet or SharePoint or  WebCenter or whatever
  • They’ve “rolled it out” and sent everyone an email about it
  • After, perhaps, an initial flurry of interest – nothing much has happened….

In short, the organisation has spent a lot of money and done everything it was told would work, but what’s been done hasn’t worked.  Important, useful documents are still being stored on personal computers and local drives; communication is still being conducted via email; departments and teams are continuing to work ‘independently’ rather than collaboratively.

There can be a number of reasons for this, but it often comes down to the absence of strategy.
I don’t mean the kind of strategy that sees a lack of organisation-wide knowledge-sharing and collaboration as a problem and the IT implementation as the solution.  This approach often employs a strategy, and the strategy often focuses on process.  For example, introduction of the technology is accompanied by a set of new processes and procedures with which people are expected to comply.  In my experience these strategies rarely make people share their knowledge.  In fact, they’ve probably helped ’Knowledge Management’ become a term of derision in many organisations!

The strategy I’m talking about is more closely allied to organisational cultural change than IT initiatives or business process re-engineering.  It is a product of the leadership’s vision, and everyone’s ambition, for the business.  It is a stratagem for focusing the creative, competitive drive within the organisation more productively – replacing internecine rivalry with effectiveness in the global marketplace.  The strategy engages everyone in all areas of the business at all times: it’s woven into the fabric of the organisation.

Developing and sustaining such a strategy demands long-term commitment.  There are lots of challenges, and “quick wins” can be rare.    The benefits, however, will be noticeable.  They may start small, but they’ll grow.  And they’ll include practical gains such as:

  •  New employees  feeling valued,  and being brought ‘on-board’ quickly and effectively (instead of being left to sink or swim)
  • Ideas and innovations being shared rather than stifled
  • Adaption and improvement of existing ‘wheels’ rather than constant, costly re-invention
  • Hours of trawling through overloaded email inboxes being saved (as easily-accessed document stores and collaboration spaces are made available)
  • Cost-savings from drawing on internal expertise(rather than seeking solutions from external consultants)

These are just a few of the benefits to expect.  The list could also, realistically, include improved client and business partner relations, greater success in bids and business wins, more efficient business processes, more focused business development….  All of these things are achievable with a well-devised, coherent and sustained knowledge and information strategy.

So, the answer to the question “how do you make people share their knowledge?” is “You can’t.  But you can create a culture in which people want to share their knowledge.  Your organisation can become one where ‘that’s the way we do things here’”.


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