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    Enterprise Social is all about Business Process Redesign

    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.

    Image: www.1to1media.com

    Image: www.1to1media.com

    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!

      11 Replies to “Enterprise Social is all about Business Process Redesign”

    I’d like your headline better if it said, “Enterprise Social is all about Business Process REDESIGN.” Transformation is about creating something new, something exciting, something better. As you and I both know, most business process was borne of another era and is none of those.

    I’m going to look more carefully into these examples. Thanks for posting Michael!

    Damn, I wish i thought of that! Is it acceptable blogging etiquette to change a title based on feedback?

    YESSSS :-)

    Etiquette or no, I changed the title. Thanks Susan!

    Similar thinking from Deloitte on this: http://bit.ly/15df0gz. There is a big idea in this. I am considering writing a report on it. Thanks again Michael. Look forward to catching up.

    Michael and Susan,
    great piece and great comment. The case studies are always very valuable.

    I’ve started talking about Social Business Process redesign a while back both on my blog (http://www.socialenterprise.it/en/index.php/2011/10/16/socializing-the-extended-value-chain/) and on HBR (http://socialbusinessmanifesto.com/social-business-process-reengineering/). Conceiving collaboration as a way to handle exceptions in the flow (someone on this blog coined it..) of work is simply the most effective, most measurable, easiest from a change management perspective approach to bring bottom up participation inside enterprises.

    Unfortunately the reality is that we are still at the beginning of this second inning (http://www.socialenterprise.it/en/index.php/2012/12/02/socialmeetsprocesses/). This is an area where my team is working and experimenting a lot. The best part is that clients are asking for it and simply get it for the strong connection to their business and what they have built in the last century or so.

    Definitely the big deal of social business.

    I think there are plenty of examples, it is just certain business processes have more affinity for the redesigning to leverage social tenets. I have clients who have redesigned financial processes like internal business cases, onboarding processes.

    I do however think enterprise social is more than just business process redesign. You have to convince people that opening themselves up to the kind of exposure that social carries will not harm them. You have too prove everyday that being open, sharing, and transparent Carries great business and personal value.

    Great post Michael. I’m so thrilled to hear use cases that are not about “we helped build a community.” I’ve been calling this Purposeful Collaboration, and your examples about are excellent.

    Very nice article. Keep it up

    Good post! Funny enough I’ve been asked two things by my Enterprise 2.0 students this week: where are the success stories and how thus this impact business processes. One of the pieces I like to cite is the Deloitte report on social software for business performance and one of the examples I gave was exactly that of OISoft.

    [...] course, some of the best examples are coming from platform vendors themselves such as this post, “Enterprise Social is about Business Process Redesign”  by CEO Michael Idinopulos at Socialtext.  But, I’ve seen other examples such as [...]

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    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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