Published on the 14/09/2016 | Written by Donovan Jackson
‘It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you’re in the people business.’…
Heard that one before? That’s because, indeed, whether it is high technology, fast food or anything in between, the chances are that work means interacting with plenty of other folks. Work is social – and that’s why it is necessary to equip employees with the tools to enhance their ability to be social, to collaborate and communicate and to share and retain knowledge.
That’s the essence of what ‘social business’ enabler ISW does. It’s Kudos Suite provides a set of tools that gamify collaboration in the workplace, with motivational ‘badges’ (familiar to those who have dabbled in fitness trackers) and awards, as well as more serious stuff like analytics and ‘Kanban’ boards. The point, explained Bo Mabry, Australian-based territory manager who is also responsible for the company’s push into New Zealand, is that because business is social anyway, it helps a great deal to provide the tools to expedite that sociability, while also tracking and managing it.
“One of the reasons for formalising the social business is to drive personal efficiency. Think back to ’08 and the GFC; as the recovery came, it was a jobless one, so while Wall Street bounced back, employment didn’t. People were required to become more efficient.”
Then, of course, noted Mabry, there’s that whole ‘social media’ thing going on. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any one of a number of pretenders to their thrones, which have entirely captivated billions of people (for good or bad). “These are standard ways for the younger generations to engage with their peers and workmates. It is necessary to provide people with the tools and environments to allow them to work in a familiar and preferred way.”
And Mabry said enabling people to work like that is nothing if not a good idea. “The reality is that your people are working socially anyway. They are already asking their circles of friends for help and insights on Facebook or Twitter, they are already engaging with workmates on the social media platforms of the day, and they are already using cloud based collaboration tools from the likes of IBM, Microsoft and Google.”
So why add something like ISW’s Kudos Suite? “You want to leverage those existing platforms and provide additional tools that push the relevant information to people, while retaining a record of that information for the company to access and use in future.”
Business is social already, Mabry stressed. “We add another level of social collaboration with an ‘engagement and adoption’ platform. By formalising social work, you can measure engagement, reward and recognise it. Where in the old days being effective in your work depended on what you know, these days, it depends more on what you share.”
“Where in the old days being effective in your work depended on what you know, these days, it depends more on what you share.”
While he shies away from the term ‘knowledge management’ as this can mean different things in different contexts, Mabry did agree that when socialised work is formalised, it leaves an indelible record of past interactions which can be very useful in perpetuity – in much the same way that information shared on online forums can be referred to in the pursuit of solutions to almost any problem you can think of.
Compare that to email, noted Mabry: “Your inbox is where knowledge goes to die”
Socialising your business, he continued, delivers a range of advantages across the organisation because it ‘frees’ information. “Human Resources loves this stuff, as they can get employees up to speed faster, providing easy access to every bit of information the new guy needs to get to work. Marketing loves it, as it is a single place to collaborate on new ideas, keeping all the data centralised – no more emails flying around. And, of course, this is a highly useful set of tools for those who have remote workers.”
He did caution that some organisations will get more out of it than others. “Some are not socially ready, particularly those which are very hierarchical or have privacy overheads. But for those which want to be more nimble and facilitate better information flow between workers, social business works very well.”
Australians, said Mabry, have been big adopters and now the company is looking to take its social business solutions into the New Zealand market; in the short term, that will be run from across the Tasman, but in due course boots are likely to be on the ground. “Ultimately, social business is a reality today whether you like it or not. The question is, do you want it to be inside or outside of the company’s control? If it is inside, there is a lot more that can be achieved with it.”
If you are interested in finding out more, ISW have created a guide to social business and its impact on workplace productivity and collaboration. This is presented as a useful infographic you can access here.
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