In a conversation yesterday, my friend and colleague Marcia Conner lamented that “there just aren’t enough public, shared examples of companies using social to do real work.”
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! How right you are!
It’s too easy for enterprise social software deployments to degenerate into places where people simply publish—or worse yet, merely talk about–work they’ve done elsewhere.
But there are plenty of examples of companies that are really transforming their business processes through social.
- Take for example McKesson and OSISoft,, whose Support professionals hit Socialtext every time they need to research a customer issue
- Look at Southeastern Railway, whose 4,000 engineers, station conductors, and customer service professionals discover and discuss train delays on a social intranet.
- Consider Industrial Mold & Machine, whose engineers walk the factory floor with Socialtext-enabled iPads, comparing output to spec and discussing process defects in real time.
- Think about HUD (Office of Housing and Urban Development), which drafts, revises, approves, and publishes press releases directly from Socialtext.
Different industries, different functions. But they have several things in common. They did the heavy strategic lifting to rethink their business processes in the age of social. They’ve achieved near-universal adoption within their target populations. Most important, they have hard ROI numbers that tie directly back to the numbers they use to run their business.
This isn’t just about communications; it’s about business process redesign.
So if you’re struggling to see what the “big deal” is about social, ask yourself this: Have you re-conceived your business process for a collaborative workflow, or have you simply pinned a social tail on the same old donkey.
Update: Based on Susan Scrupski’s comment below, I added the word “Redesign” to the title. Thanks Susan!