Social Business Strategy
For organizations using Microsoft SharePoint, the upcoming 2013 release — which is bringing a full battery of social capabilities — may have you seriously considering adding social capabilities to your intranet.
My sources tell me the first commercial release of SharePoint 2013 is currently targeted for December 2012 and therefore most likely the first Cumulative Update with hotfixes will be released in February 2013 – thus marking a stability milestone for early adopters.
So, if you are considering upgrading your SharePoint installation, should you upgrade to SharePoint 2010 or do you wait until the release of the new version? I think the answer depends on your business situation.
[By upgrade we mean installation of new environment and then migration of content via a tool such as avepoint - Microsoft do not provide a direct updgrade path from SP2007 to SP2013]
I have outlined some scenarios and provided some suggestions based on each business situation.
Scenario A – On SharePoint 2007 and just about to commence an upgrade project
You are on SharePoint 2007 and have just commenced the planning to upgrade to SharePoint 2010.
In this scenario, I think it depends on how much investment you have already made in the upgrade project. You will need to consider the following:
- There is always risk involved in any new release. Depending on your organisation’s appetite for risk, you may decide to wait until the first hotfixes are released, perhaps 3 months after the initial release.
- When is your organisation likely to again consider an upgrade of its SharePoint system? If it’s not likely to be for a few years, it might be better to wait a little longer and get the latest and greatest, as your organisation may be stuck with it for a while.
- Is your organisation prepared to make the investment in technology required for SharePoint 2013? SQL and Windows Server versions are now all required to be on the 2008 R2 or 2012 versions as a minimum
My recommendation would be to wait and upgrade to SharePoint 2013. As it is already nearing the end of September, what is the likelihood of you going live with SharePoint 2010 before Christmas? With the first hotfixes likely to be released in February, you could still commence your planning and design but wait for production release.
Scenario B – On SharePoint 2007, and with a SharePoint 2010 upgrade project underway, but nothing built as yet
You have SharePoint 2007 but have been planning your upgrade for some time now. You already have your requirements and SharePoint 2010 satisfies them all. You have invested a lot and are ready to go into the build phase. Your change management strategy and your communication strategy are well underway.
In this scenario, you need to consider the following:
- How much have you invested already in SharePoint 2010 planning?
- Are you developing custom code to deliver functionality with SharePoint 2010? Does SharePoint 2013 offer that functionality out of the box?
- What is the impact of delaying and changing platforms?
- What are the budget impacts of changing to SharePoint 2013?
In this scenario, I think, stick to your guns and upgrade to SharePoint 2010. Your organisation has already invested a lot in the project and postponing until SharePoint 2013 is available might mean you lose momentum, goodwill and budget.
Scenario C – Recently upgraded to SharePoint 2010 and about to add Social Business capability
You have recently (in the last 12 – 18 months) upgraded to SharePoint 2010 and are about to commence implementing the second phase of the program of works including implementation of new Social Business functionality. You were initially going to implement Newsgator as a plug-in to SharePoint 2010, but now you hear that SharePoint 2013 has some new social functionality. You’re also unsure of the impact of Microsoft’s recent Yammer acquisition.
This is a tricky one but in this scenario I think you should consider the following:
- Has your organisation realised the benefit of the recent SharePoint 2010 upgrade and achieved its return on investment from the SharePoint 2010 upgrade?
- Will SharePoint 2013 satisfy all your social business requirements?
In regard to social capabilities, SharePoint 2013 is a major improvement on SharePoint 2010. However, it is still in its infancy and will lack at lot of the features found in existing enterprise social tools. Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer may impact on SharePoint, though is not clear how or when this would happen (more to be released from Microsoft on this topic on the 1st October). On the other hand, Newsgator is a mature player in the field of social business and has the flexibility and adaptability to meet changing market requirements. Therefore, if you are truly committed to implementing social business with SharePoint then I think Newsgator is way ahead in its maturity and has a far superior user experience than SharePoint 2013 out of the box.
In this scenario, there is no clear cut best way forward. It depends on the answer to the questions outlined above and some additional questions outlined below.
In this case SharePoint 2013 has some major improvements around mobility. It might therefore be worth the wait to upgrade to SharePoint 2013, rather than developing lots of custom code in SharePoint 2010. For further information on what is new with mobility, see my blog on SharePoint 2013: What is new with mobility?
Scenario E – About to implement cross site publishing capability
Cross-site publishing allows you to store and maintain content in an authoring site collection, and enables you to display this content in several publishing websites. The new cross site publishing feature in SharePoint 2013 might be worth the wait and sway your decision to upgrade to SharePoint 2013. For further information on the new features around web publishing, see my blog on SharePoint 2013: What is new in web content management?
So what’s the answer for your organisation?
In summary, there is no right answer. There are many other scenarios that I can think of but would take far too long to discuss individually. I think it depends on the capability that you are trying to deliver with SharePoint, and that will determine which release best suits your requirements.
Each organisation should consider the following to assist the decision:
- How mature is your SharePoint implementation?
- Does your existing implementation have such a bad reputation that upgrading to revamp and reinvigorate SharePoint and its use would be a good thing?
- When will you next get the opportunity to upgrade?
- Do you have the budget to facilitate the change within your organisation?
- How much customisation do you currently have in your SharePoint environment? Would it make an upgrade cost prohibitive at the moment?
- Have you realised the business benefit from the current implementation?
- Can your organisation satisfy the technical requirements for SharePoint 2013?
I’d love to hear what you think about the new SharePoint 2013 release and its functionality. Are you considering upgrading to SharePoint 2013? If so, when?
Join my colleague Fiona Shaw for this free webinar on 20 September 2012.
Two of the hottest trends right now are social business and mobility.
When people talk about social business, most often the first thing that springs to mind is: How do you create a tool that reaps the same benefits as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter?
In terms of mobility, the issue becomes: How can mobility contribute to the benefits of social business?
When you look at the statistics for Facebook, there is a rapidly growing trend for users to access via mobile. In fact, in 2012, of the 845 million Facebook users, 425 million are mobile users. That is 50.3%!
But just how big is this trend? According to a prediction by Morgan Stanley in April 2010, the number of mobile users will surpass desktop users in 2014. With an explosion in enabling technologies from Apple (iPads, iPhones), Google (Android OS), and Microsoft (Windows 8, Windows Phone 8), I can only see even greater acceleration in the adoption of mobile technologies.
These consumer trends will have an impact on how we work in the enterprise. The question is HOW will it impact the enterprise?
This YouTube presentation provides an eye-cathing overview of the growth in mobile phones to the end of 2012.
I should now explain what I mean by social business and mobility.
Social Business is all about revolutionising how companies operate and bringing value to all employees, customers, partners, suppliers and stakeholders. It is about bringing together, connecting and engaging both internal and external individuals of an organisation to form an ecosystem. It requires an organisation to implement strategies, processes and tools to achieve the level of engagement from all parties in order to optimise the value that is generated.
No, I do not mean traveling on a motorised scooter! I’m actually referring to mobility in terms of accessing information from various portable devices at any time.
So how does mobility assist in social business?
Many of us have already adopted mobile technology like smart phones and tablets outside of work, and have got used to accessing cool apps that allow us to do things such as reading about our friend’s cat or their unusual interests. But when we take these devices to work and expect to do the same, we find we access can’t access information in the same way on mobile devices at work.
The main benefit of mobility for organisations is it accelerates adoption and provides agility, bringing additional value to existing applications and information. Mobility also comes with other benefits:
- Agility: Mobile devices (Smart Phones and Tablets) enable individuals to stay connected any time, wherever they are.
- Additional access channels (Mobile access): Mobile devices offer a convenient alternative for individuals to connect.
- Ease of access: Mobile devices are always on, and mobile applications are lightweight, easy to use.
- Low cost: Mobile applications are relatively easy and quick to develop.
- Sensor packed: Mobile devices contain many built-in capabilities that desktops do not always have (geolocation sensors, gyroscopes, cameras, microphones, NFC, and more). These added capabilities can come in handy for an organisation.
Mobility however comes with some risks in areas such as:
- Security: Mobile devices are unfortunately easier to lose, vulnerable to hacking and viruses. They contain so many apps (and information with it) that can be accessed without a password, they suddenly becomes a risk in the eyes of the IT department.
- IT governance: Because of the security risks involved, IT departments want to introduce policies to control the security on mobile devices. Fortunately, mobile platforms are acknowledging the need for governance and introducing features to help in this regard.
- Privacy: This is a difficult one. Mobile devices by nature are designed to be used anywhere. When sensitive information is viewed in public areas, will this pose an issue to your organisation? However, if your organisation’s social tools are opened up to people outside the organisation, does it still pose such a threat?
With each benefit it brings, mobility introduces risks, but many can be mitigated with appropriate measures.
So, who are the main players that offer mobility for the enterprise?
Currently in the market there are a number of social tools available for the enterprise. Most social mobile apps extend access to enable users to join communities, micro blog, view activity streams, and more. The point here is all these apps aim to increase engagement with more ease.
The main players in the mobile social space are:
What can we do with social business and mobility?
Besides these pre-baked mobile apps, your organisation may need to extend other social applications as mobile apps (crowdsourcing or mining information from social responses, etc).
Regardless of what mobile apps are available or possible, it is important not to get lost in the hype and excitement. It is important to understand how it will assist your organisation to achieve its strategic goals.
Ask the business:
- What is the purpose?
- How will it bring value?
- What are your goals?
- Improve communication?
- Improve engagement?
- Improve efficiency?
- Improve access?
- Improve productivity?
- Increase lead generation?
- Reduce communication costs?
- Who is the audience?
- What is the business trying to achieve through social business?
- Is it to empower your mobile workforce with access to the tacit knowledge?
- Is it to make it easier to find the right matter expert?
- How can mobile access help contribute to these goals?
- What are the common daily processes and tasks?
- How do people currently use their mobile devices for work?
I’d advise organisations not to get mobility tools for the sake of having the latest and greatest. Rather, they should focus on the purpose and role of mobile access in social business. Think how mobility can help deliver benefits to the organisation, then then think how mobility can contribute to social business.
Going social with your intranet could add significant value to your business, but what are your options for implementation?
Rather than trying to boil the ocean, it’s advisable for most organisations to take a phased approach, starting with a high level blueprint for going social with a SharePoint intranet.
The best approach may be to gather key stakeholders together in a small workshop. This normally includes representatives from HR, corporate communications, business strategy and IT. The task for this group (possibly working with a facilitator), will be to investigate specific requirements of the organisation, and put together a high-level plan that can be presented to decision-makers.
Firstly you’ll need to socialise the idea of social with key people in the organisation. This will usually involve an introduction to how social networking inside the enterprise actually works, and demonstrate key capabilities such as communities, profiles and expertise location.
The next step involves gathering a subset of your requirements, uncovering possible use cases, and identifying user journeys that illustrate business benefits and strategic alignment.
It is important to understand the maturity of your organisation in relation to information management and your overall organisational readiness for success with social technologies. An important consideration may be how you can leverage your existing SharePoint implementation.
When is a good time to implement social tools? Every organisation is different, and there may be more fundamental issues hampering your organisation other than not being social e.g. findability, document management and collaboration. The workshop should help to surface these issues.
The take-out from this exercise should be a brief summary of recommendations on the best way forward for your social intranet, complete with information to support your business case and overall planning.
This blueprint should provide:
- overview of possible scope (including objectives, benefits, where to start)
- suggested approach (what can realistically be achieved, including quick wins)
- achievable timelines
- indicative costs
This blueprint will be invaluable in gaining buy-in from key decision-makers in the organisation. It’s an essential first step in your social journey.
Find out more about a focused half-day Social Intranet Discovery Workshop for your organisation
Author Steven Covey died recently. Covey was the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, one of the most influential business books ever written and a book which took pride of place in my bookshelf for many years (At least, until it went AWOL during a house move a few years back).
The “7 Habits..” was focussed on the character traits and behaviours that are key ingredients in personal success. These 7 good habits are also very applicable to effective social enterprise solutions. With a nod to Covey’s contribution to the business landscape, here’s my ‘social’ take on each of the 7 habits:
Author Stephen Covey
1. Be Proactive
Knowledge workers want the same peer to peer connectedness within the workplace that they get from public social tools outside. Don’t let pent up demand for social tools lead to staff frustration. In these days of ubiquitous, cloud-based tools, impatient knowledge workers will eventually find their own way to get social capabilities into the workplace and while this is not necessarily a disaster (staff communicating is after all a good thing!), ‘rogue’ social initiatives will ultimately lead to IT management headaches and even data sovereignty issues. Be ahead of the game and start planning your social strategy now.
2. Begin with the end in mind
Covey says that all things are created twice: first comes visualization and conceptualization, then later the actual, physical creation. Great social initiatives don’t just happen. They are planned. They are guided by a vision and strategy: What will your organisation look like as a ‘social enterprise’? How will it different? What will a day in the life of a typical worker look like?
3. Put first things first
Putting first things first means giving priority to important matters first and urgent, but less-important matters second. It is easy for the project team to get bogged down in coping with urgent demands for ‘critical’ stuff. The trick to avoiding this is to first know what IS important. You should already have a vision (see the second habit), so now that you know where you’re heading, the next step is to build the roadmap that will take you there. Your social roadmap is a sequence of prioritized activities, such as the release of social capabilities like rich profiles, activity streams, communities, recognition. Most importantly, your roadmap will inform your stakeholders of what is most important and what will bring the most value.
4. Think Win/Win
Covey described Win/Win as when: ”All parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan.” Sometimes particular departments (I’m talking to you marcom, HR and IT!) try to keep a social initiative to themselves. The fact is however, that a social initiative touches all parts of an organisation. It needs multi-disciplinary cooperation and engagement to succeed and there are key groups within any organisation that should be gotten involved.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Active listening is the key to being a great communicator and it’s a vital skill for those who wish to implement a social solution that gets user adoption. Fortunately, it’s not rocket science – ask questions, talk to the business, conduct surveys and polls. You need to engage with the stakeholders to find out what THEY want. With that insight in hand, you can roll out your solution in much greater confidence that it will get the user buy-in.
Synergy comes from trust and cooperation. In the fourth habit I talked about engaging with the key departments. Now we extend this engagement to the wider group of stakeholders – the users themselves. A social enterprise thrives on connection between workers; on the creation of a complex network of interconnected workers, sharing ideas and knowledge. The synergies that flow from the social enterprise can also help the social initiative itself, whether from planned activities like crowd-sourcing and ideation, or perhaps from the general flow of discussion. As Covey says, it’s about ”opening your mind and heart to new possibilities, new alternatives, new options.”
7. Sharpen the saw
Every now and then you need to take time to renew, hone your skills and learn something new. This is important as a general rule, but it is vital in the social enterprise space, which is developing and changing at a breakneck pace. For those charged with leading social initiatives, reading the latest books and blogs, attending industry events and other self education should be part of the routine.
(One last word about Steven Covey to close this article: His contributions to business are impressive enough, but it says a lot about the man that he died as a result of residual effects of a mountain biking accident..at age 79!)
I will be presenting at this forthcoming (FREE) briefing in Melbourne on 7 August, on the topic Getting Social: A 5 Step Road Map to Becoming a Social Enterprise, All welcome!
Your chance to test drive Newsgator social tools plus tips on how to launch your social business journey . Register now!
Is Social Business Strategy a dark art? Many seem to believe that this relatively new discipline of strategy is shrouded in mystery and accessible to a chosen few. Comprising a cryptic set of actions that may result in daunting, disruptive and even scary consequences. And only those with strange and transcendent powers have the ability to craft the strategy?
Lord Voldemort - Practitioner of the Dark Arts
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
Is Social Business Strategy a Dark Art?
Let’s delve a little into the dark side, and unravel some of the mystery, to see if we can shed some light on the formula for developing a Social Strategy, and decide for ourselves. (Hint: by Social Business Strategy, we’re talking a little more than a company Facebook page and tweeting. We’re talking transformational change across the entire business value chain, impacting staff, customers and partners).
1. Getting started – the task force
To begin the journey, you’ll need a task force. As Jim Collins says in his book Good to Great, start by getting the right people ‘on the bus’. Your social task force should:
a) Represent the full range of functions across your organisation
b) Be active participants in the outside social networking world, and
c) Be genuinely passionate about making social successful ‘on the inside’
They’ll help craft the strategy with you, starting with a clear vision and business objectives. Tackle the all-important ‘what problem are we trying to solve?’ question.
Find out what’s already happening within your organisation. Rogue Yammer sites that pockets of the company already love (and possibly IT hates)? Unofficial tweets, or LinkedIn/Facebook posts, which unofficially represent your brand? What’s going on already, who’s doing it, and why? Are you at the ‘pirate’ stage (as social media author Chris Brogan calls it) where employees have already started, or the ‘genesis’ stage (as social media specialist Olivier Blanchard calls it), where you are just taking the first steps. Extend your research to a competitive assessment. What are your competitors doing and why?
3. The three lenses
Time to look across your operations end to end, and find opportunities where social media can support the pursuit of your business goals. You’ll need to look through three different lenses:
Binoculars – use them to look across the enterprise, for challenges that are common to all functions, such as the ability to tap into expertise, support special interest groups or orient new starters efficiently. Now look out to customers and partners. How easy is it for them to engage with you, and feel supported? Then take to the Microscope for a detailed view into individual functions. It’s tempting to gravitate towards the obvious places – like digital marketing, but the social approach can enhance so many – if not all – corners of the organisation. Look to where other organisations are finding credible wins: such as staff engagement, customer support and product development. Finally, bring out those X-ray vision goggles, to look for opportunities that span organisational boundaries, where the social approach can breakdown silos across particular teams or specific business processes. For example, for internal social initiatives, look for how social functionality can support task completion via reminders in the activity stream. Connecting to the flow of work is critical to ensure that social technologies are not left on the sidelines. Context is king.
“The Dark Arts are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal … unfixed, mutating, indestructible.”
Severus Snape to a Defence Against the Dark Arts class
Any vague resemblance to the social media journey (varied, ever-changing, disruptive?
Once you’ve identified the opportunities, rank them in terms of business urgency, impact, cost and risk. Find the synergies and the dependencies, and prioritise accordingly. Around now you’ll need to ask the tough questions for your social business program: Will you be better served by a centralised model (where a central social business team lead the strategy, content, tools and tactics) or a decentralised model (where individual groups are given latitude to find their own way, perhaps with a ‘centre of excellence in social media’ who can provide supporting capabilities to keep things on track)? What parts of the program (if any) should you outsource, how to build the business case, determine budget, and who will do the work? Is a pilot for one business unit a good way to start, or will restricted participation constrain your success? Who’s already winning in social business and what parallels can you draw from their success to your business?
Yes, tools are indeed an essential part of the strategy. But ensure they are not ‘the’ strategy. Tool selection shouldn’t dominate your planning, especially over the more critical success factors, like People and Change (yep, those old chestnuts). The tools should serve both the enterprise-wide needs (binocular view) and the needs of individual functions (microscope view) and breakdown barriers (X-ray goggle views), and address both internal and external facing social imperatives. Where sometimes a single Enterprise Social Networking tool will service many requirements very effectively, sometimes more than one tool may be best – especially to support specific objectives, such as a customer support community, and that’s OK too.
6. Lay the foundation
You’ll now need to mobilise more broadly than your task force. Establish the right roles within the org structure, including the all-important Community Manager. Ensure they embrace their new responsibility for success with social, with the right KPIs in place. You’ll need base artefacts: a support plan, communications plan, security and identity plan – the usual suspects. Provide training to all staff on the tools, and the right way to use them, find your champions, create guidelines for use (collaboratively), and devise incentives to get things moving (gamification anyone?). Think structuring and enabling.
7. Expert advice at the right points
You may wish to bring in some specialist advice at the right time. Navigating the increasingly crowded landscape of social tools, and Digital Marketing specialists, for example. Don’t underestimate the benefit of a success coaches who can help you get it right, first time.
8. It’s all about the people
OK, we get it. User adoption reigns. Don’t find yourself cursed by the sound of tumbleweed blowing through your empty community sites. See my blog post Social Networking, User Adoption and Cocktail parties for a few thoughts on promoting user adoption.
Why are we doing this? To increase the number of followers, mentions, ‘likes’ or internal communities. No, no, no. Think the enchanted three: revenue generation, improved margins and cost savings. Think reduction in customer service costs as more customers are now using your community forum to crowdsource answers to their issues. Think top line growth through winning proposals, as the right expertise can be drawn upon more effectively for better quality, more compelling pitches. Pull in your task force for setting the metrics – they should be tied to those crystal clear business objectives you’ve articulated together. Your social business planning must continuously evolve, so be sure to loop your analytics back to your overall objectives, so you can adjust your course along the journey.
Polyjuice Potion is a very complicated potion that allows the drinker to assume the form of someone else.
Will your Social Business Strategy be the potion that transforms your organisation, underpinning success in
this fast moving world?
So, a dark art?
Well, look a little closer and you’ll find that most, if not all, the steps look kind of familiar. When it comes to developing a business strategy (the plain old non-social kind), a gun team, market research, SWOT analysis, budget, execution plan and ROI calculation are generally all part of the equation, as is expert advice when you need it to fill the gaps. Yep, similar, right? So let’s not be daunted by the prospect of developing a business strategy – the social kind – from scratch. A dark art it may not be after all, but disruptive, hell yeah. Like every business strategy, there’s a dose of art, and, yes, a dose of science too. But some good ol’ fashioned sound business judgement – classic strategic planning style – completes the not-so-mystical potion.
Let’s hope your social business strategy – the art and the science – can bring some real magic to your enterprise soon.
Want to learn more about building a social business strategy? Come along to our Social Business breakfast event in Melbourne, June 13. We’d love to talk social with you. And it’s FREE!