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    Move Over Intranets: The Blue Man Group’s Collaborative Workspace is the Shiznet

    As a growing number of companies can attest, traditional intranets have become irrelevant. Some employees have started using external social channels, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to set up workspace groups to share information, have group chats in real-time and ultimately get their work done in one location. They also turn to channels, such as YouTube to get information and expert guidance that is simple to find and even easier to consume.

    Intranets may have had their day, but too many become information graveyards containing out-of-date, poorly organized documents and other resources. Traditional portals are also not segmented by user, forcing employees to sort through materials that aren’t relevant to their jobs. And typical intranets may not allow for conversation strings, which forces timely exchanges to take place on other external channels. The final nail in the coffin is intranets that are not mobile-ready.

    Today’s social workspace should mirror the functionality, collaborative nature and ease-of-use of popular social media sites—organized, configurable to users’ needs and accessible 24/7 through any digital device. More importantly, collaborative hubs encourage greater employee engagement and strengthen your organization’s business goals and strategies.

    Discover how collaborative workspaces are superior to traditional intranets.One great example of a truly powerful collaborative workspace is BlueMan Group’s Shiznet social intranet. The Blue Man Group theatrical show has skyrocketed into a vibrant global brand with productions in 11 worldwide locations and experienced by more than 17 million people.  However, they knew there was a problem of collaborating with over 500 employees and 50 blue men. They had an outdated intranet and knew it was time to replace it with a social collaborative platform for four compelling reasons:

    1. Accelerate real-time innovation and knowledge sharing: Social collaboration platforms provide knowledge sharing capabilities so employees can obtain needed job skills and immediately adapt them to their everyday work. Leveraging collective knowledge also fosters innovation and bolsters employee engagement by unleashing the intelligence and creativity of internal teams. Blue Man Group’s Shiznet is the Creative Cauldron, a workspace that was developed specifically for “Blue Men” to collaborate on new show ideas and brainstorm on bringing ideas to life. The Creative Cauldron has served as a launch pad for new show ideas, stunts and creative content.
    2. Encourage informal learning: An effective social intranet allows employees to easily access informal learning tools in their moment of need. The Shiznet also acts as a central repository for the hundreds of videos, audio and digital assets that are regularly used and created by the Blue Man Group. From the latest production stills to commercials, anyone within the organization can easily locate, tag, access and share content within The Shiznet. This allows the company to centralize its creative assets into a single repository, streamlining the ability to save and distribute informal media assets.
    3. Digital Connection In today’s world, no technology is complete if it is not mobile-friendly – the same is true for a social Intranet. Organizations need to ensure that their enterprise collaboration workspace is accessible on devices, such as smartphones, tablets and other digital devices. Through these technologies, employees can communicate and share resources 24/7, remaining connected and strengthening internal collaborative communities.
    4. Showcase and utilize your internal experts: While it is a good thing that employees are doing their own research, it can also be unfortunate when they learn tactics, skills and habits that run counter to organizational culture and strategy. Having a powerful enterprise social collaboration platform provides easy access to internal experts, who will put the right skills and knowledge at employees’ fingertips.

    If your company is looking to gain a competitive advantage, an updated social workspace is key. It leverages internal knowledge, ensures resources are in alignment with company culture and strategy, and keeps your employees engaged and loyal to your organization.

    New Years Resolution: Achieve Social Digital Workspace Greatness

    resolutions-catThe beginning of a new year is usually a time for reflection, as well as a time to think about creating positive change in ourselves and our professional careers. With a high sense of optimism we set our goals, determined we will meet them successfully. This is good – because we are enhancing ourselves – understanding that we can be better, we can do better and more importantly that we look to be challenged and to grow by learning to overcome obstacles and fears. It may be hard work, but in the end it’s extremely rewarding.

    Some of my 2014 goals are to lay-off chocolate (OK, that may be an unattainable goal, good thing I have a few), to work better with my team, provide more value in what I do and to learn  from knowledge experts both inside and outside of my organization on topics that are of interest to me, so that I can both be challenged and enriched in many different areas of my life.

    One thing my company understands is mobility and I mean that in the most decentralized manner. Many of us work remotely but we all have easy access to each other if it’s by phone, email or online  meetings, we are always connected. However, maybe the most important place we connect is in our digital work-space.

    The reason our digital work-space is the most preferred place for me to connect is that I am able to find personalized information and content that is directed to my team space. I can communicate in real-time with co-workers that I need to communicate with. I can find those outside of my team space that may have valuable information to share and not only can I locate the information easily, I can have it in different forms. This allows me to get my work done quicker and more accurately, which in turn helps the team to reach our goals more efficiently.

    So how can your organization achieve digital work-space greatness? Well, for starters you need to consider the following:

    • What information employees are going to access
    • How are they going to access information
    • Where they need to find content
    • Who they need to communicate with
    • What they are going to do with the information once they locate it

    Key Components of a Great Social Digital Workspace

    Be sure to think mobile Today’s employees are working and communicating using a multitude of digital devices. They should be able to use the corporate intranet across any one of their devices no matter if it’s a Smartphone, tablet or laptop. You need to enable your employees to have access to information; contacts, project status changes and the ability make updates from anywhere, at any time from any device.

    Offer social features Employees spend time in social channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and by offering a social intranet you’re giving employees with tools they are already comfortable with and like to use. A collaborative work-space can enrich your employees’ experience. Co-workers can develop areas of interest, foster innovation and exchange knowledge. Plus, social tools allow for teams to follow and share team members without bombarding their email -less noise, who doesn’t like that!

    It’s about ME: So personalize it — don’t contribute to information overload.  Give employees the right information, at the time they need, it in the space they work in. Building profiles allows the platform to better understand what is relevant to the employee and personalizes their work-space so that the employee decides what areas and information are important for them to get their work done.

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    I hope you  take some time to reflect on how your digital work-space is working for you and your employees, and what you can do in 2014 to achieve social digital work-space greatness.

    Live long and have a prosperous New Year!

    Could Your Intranet Win an Ugly Sweater Contest?

    With the holidays in full swing I have been invited to a few of those ugly holiday sweater parties and I was on the quest to find one that will land me first prize. I even shelled out a few extra dollars for some holiday pants too, thinking if I have an over-the top, crazy, but complete ensemble I would surely smoke all of my competition. Wish me luck.

    I then started to think about how so many companies have an ugly intranet and if they did was it ugly enough to win an ugly intranet contest? Trust me I used to work at a company where it could turn into a week long quest to find any useful information. The intranet was so cumbersome and annoying that no one wanted to use it, EVER!

    I bet you are wondering what made it so ugly, here’s the nitty gritty:

    • The home page was a complete jumble of this and that, no structure – no rhyme or reason
    • It was a dumping ground of information overload, where you would have to dig to find exactly who or what you needed
    • There was no sense of content ownership either, there was content posted that was so outdated that it talked about releases that happened years prior
    • It wasn’t connected to other systems that I needed to use such as a CRM or learning tools
    • When I wanted to post something I had to submit it in an unsearchable document library that asked me to fill out all this metadata and key word mubo-jumbo that didn’t even make it easy to find it once it was posted
    • If it was that bad on a PC, I didn’t dare try to use it on my mobile device – why create angst for myself
    • Sadly I could not work or share information in groups with members of my teams – and all correspondence was done by email after email

    If the above bullets about how terrible my experience was sounds like your current intranet experience,  congratulations you just won the ugly intranet contest.  Let me tell you what you won. Don’t worry, it’s not a Chia Pet. Its  a gift from me to you that will help make your intranet sparkle this holiday season.

    What do you want this holiday season? I bet it’s a social intranet that:

    • Is accessible from anywhere – no matter what digital device you are using
    • Allows you to join and create groups that you can work and share information effortlessly
    • Personalizes your experience so that connections and communications are relevant
    • Your able to work in a space where you can connect to the tools you use every day to do your job
    • Has  resources available in one place that is easy to locate, share, update and download
    • Fosters innovation and share new ideas with employees
    • Can measure how employees use the social intranet and how their activity can lead to improved ROI

    Bottom line – no one wants a gift that they have to stand in line to return, better yet one they wouldn’t even want to re-gift. Why bother using an outdated, undesirable, non-performing intranet when you should be using a social intranet that nurtures connections to employees, directs workers to resources they need, creates a collaborative space into a super powerful communication hub, fosters learning across the entire organization, and strengthens both internal and external relationships.

    By implementing the right social intranet that they will enjoy using, you will give your employees a gift that keeps on giving!

    Happy Holidays!

    Share by Default: How to Use Email Effectively with Your Collaboration Platform

    According to a McKinsey report, the average knowledge worker spends 28% of the work week on reading and responding to emails. That’s crazy! Don’t get me wrong, email has its purpose; it’s flexible, it can be part of your workflow, and it’s not going away. However, email shouldn’t be the all purpose communication tool of the office.

    Your collaboration platform should be the central knowledge repository of editable web pages, files, conversations, and essentially anything that could be useful for you, your team, or colleagues you don’t even know yet. Email can help you keep track of which tasks and projects within the knowledge repository need your attention and allow you to alert others if they can help answer questions or need to review a document.rain of mail img

    You still need email for these notifications as well as for communications with those who may be outside of your organization’s collaboration platform (e.g., customers, consultants, etc.). However, if you take a look through your inbox, you’ll probably find never ending threads, many of which you’re unnecessarily included in. When you think of all the useful knowledge trapped inside everyone’s inbox, that is essentially unsearchable by 99.9% of the rest of the organization, you realize why it takes so long to figure out who is the expert on a topic or what the answers are to your complex questions. The bulk of corporate knowledge is invisible and undiscoverable to those who need it.

    I worked for a manufacturing company that made flavorings and all employees had weekly taste tests. It was estimated that it took about 50,000 emails a year just to coordinate people’s schedules. We implemented Socialtext, set up a single editable web page where employees could sign up for time slots each week, and with that one small change, we essentially eliminated 50,000 emails a year. And making the schedule more transparent actually encouraged people to sign up more often when they saw when their friends were signing up.

    Essentially any process that involves multiple employees editing and revising information can be done faster and more easily with social software. You don’t have to keep track of multiple copies of documents or versions or figure out how to pull multiple edits into one document; a good social platform does that for you via revision history. If these are repetitive processes (e.g., organizing monthly events, weekly newsletters, etc.), a social platform enables participation from anyone and can make collaboration more efficient.

    It takes an intentional individual, team, and organizational effort to migrate your attention away from your inbox, and begin doing most of your work within your collaboration platform. You can work all day sending and responding to emails, and that work will be visible to those you’ve communicated with, but will be invisible to 98% of everyone else. Instead, if you do your work transparently within your social platform, your work is visible to and discoverable by almost everyone. That makes finding useful knowledge easier.

    Work transparently, not invisibly. Most communication and knowledge is useful to others. Share by default; use your social platform.

    Make Informal Learning a Formal Part of Your Organization

    Research shows that approximately 80% of learning happens in an informal environment, like conversations with coworkers. Informal learning is more personal and based on natural interactions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide support to encourage this type of learning.

    Those impromptu conversations by the water cooler or over lunch in the cafeteria are great, but what about organizations with global offices? And even in relatively small companies, many employees don’t communicate regularly with people outside of their department. When organizations facilitate informal learning, they make it easy for employees to learn from the subject matter experts (SMEs), and not just the most knowledgeable person an employee knows. These SMEs want to share their knowledge and employees want to acquire the best information they can to successfully complete their projects, but they need the support of the organization to make it happen.Businessman drinking water from water cooler

    It’s not that learning should be a free-for-all where employees only learn what they want. The point is to consider that workers are already learning effectively by talking to coworkers and through individual research, so why not make that process easier with a solution that is geared toward informal learning?

    Social software, especially when combined with video technology and a structured learning management system, can support those natural, informal learning efforts. Instead of having those conversations around the water cooler, you can ask questions, get answers, and have discussions in an activities stream. This not only allows for the conversation to happen across the organization, but it is then documented and is searchable for future reference by you or your colleagues.

    You can share a presentation you’re building and learn from the feedback of your organization’s experts. Engage those SMEs by collaborating on a document together within the social software and keep those informal learning efforts as a part of your company’s knowledge repository. When you document these discussions, you’re turning them into learning assets that current and future employees can use to answer similar questions and build off of to encourage more informative conversations.

    Structured learning should maintain its place in the organization; as a formal training tool that guides employees through information the company finds crucial. However, this can’t account for everything employees will need to know. By supporting both formal and informal learning, organizations can better engage their employees and improve performance across the company.

    Socialtext Named in KMWorld’s Trend-Setting Products of 2013

    We’re excited to share that we were recently named as one of KMWorld Magazine’s “Trend-Setting Products of 2013.” According to Hugh McKellar, Editor-in-Chief at KMWorld, “The common thread running through all the products listed here is the unique value—and potential value—they offer the organization, its workers and their various constituencies.”

    We’re continually working to make it easier to collaborate, in order to increase productivity and employee engagement within organizations, so we appreciate this recognition from KMWorld.

    If you’d like to read more about this announcement, click here to read the full article.

    Introducing Socialtext 6.0

    We’re excited to announce the availability of Socialtext 6.0. Socialtext 6.0 enhances functionality for micro-blogging, social networking, content creation, expertise location and video capabilities, and simplifies users’ ability to share expertise, ideas and corporate data to foster collaboration and drive new business opportunities.

    This latest version of Socialtext includes the following enhancements:

    • New video technology
    • Enhanced Activity Stream features
    • Unified search functionality
    • Updated People and Groups directory
    • New header and redesigned Dashboard

    To read the full press release, click here and watch the video below to see Socialtext 6.0 in action.

    Integrating Social into Existing Business Processes

    Even if employees can overcome their fear of change, it’s unlikely that they’ll adopt new technology if it doesn’t fit into their normal work flow. If you’re introducing a social solution into your organization, you not only want to make sure it provides a great user experience to encourage and maintain adoption, but also make sure it integrates with your existing technology.Flow Chart

    Employees don’t want to add another standalone application into the mix. So if they have to use social collaboration software that isn’t integrated with the HR, ERP, or CRM applications they are familiar with, they’re not going to want to use it. Having these applications integrated simply makes it easier for employees to get work done. Think about the benefits of having events from Salesforce flow into a single activity stream, and then being able to have real-time conversations around that information. This brings knowledge from existing applications into one central location, making knowledge sharing and informal learning easy and beneficial.

    However, if your business processes have remained the same for years, you need to make sure your processes have caught up to the technology. Social has the potential to make a real impact on your business, but only if your leadership team thinks of a social solution as an integral part of the work flow, and not as an additional application that employees can use.

    Adding in new technology shouldn’t add more work or stress to your employees’ days. Before you begin implementation, think about how the new solution will help employees work more efficiently, how easily it will integrate with existing applications, and how it will enhance your business processes. When you fit the solution into your business processes, you make it that much easier for your employees to adopt the technology and for your organization to achieve real business value from the software.

    About This Blog

    Weblog on gaining business results from social software.

    On this blog, Socialtext staffers and customers explore how companies can gain the most business value from their use of enterprise social software, including microblogging, social networking, filtered activity streams, widget-based dashboards, blogs and wikis.

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