So, you’re a seasoned IT leader and you’ve finalized your decision to deploy a leading enterprise social media platform that is aimed at transforming the way your company does business. The C-levels are onboard and eager to jump in (or so they hint), the newbies / recent grads can’t wait to work the way they are accustomed to…..but then there’s the rest of the crew – the majority that are already overwhelmed with the latest technology advancements and the grind of everyday tasks. They chant in unison: “No more new stuff,” as you cringe behind your desk.
In the past, commonly used excuses for not implementing an enterprise 2.0 platform included, ”People over 30 just don’t get social networking and “Workers aren’t comfortable with transparency.” Another obstacle we’ve heard is “Social media doesn’t deliver real business value and can waste a lot of employee time” as mentioned in the book, The Social Organization: How to Use Social Media to Tap the Collective Genius of Your Customers and Employees. As research shows, companies are jumping past their fear of change and tossing these myths out the window. Experts such as Chief Strategy Officer, Peter Kim of the Dachis Group says, “Social business is huge, and it’s not going away.” It is clear that bringing social software into the corporate workplace is rising as companies are realizing the true cost value. That value can manifest itself in numerous production efficiencies and cost savings. In the case of Socialtext client, McKesson, their Physician Practice Solutions support center was able to experience a dramatic 67% decrease in average speed to answer from 33 to 11 minutes. One reason for their results was their ability to leverage Socialtext as a better way to provide answers and information to their support personnel.
Now that you’ve assessed the benefits, moved past any obstacles and are committed to making the social software plunge, the question is, how are you going to get people to use it? The word adoption, despite its positive benefits, can cause stress. No matter how you look at it, adoption means work; but that work doesn’t have to be hard when adoption fundamentals are embraced.
Let’s back up a bit. Before you can plan your adoption strategy, the first step is to choose the software that is best suited for your users so that adoption will be welcomed. This Brainyard article - Enterprise Social Networks: Must-Have Features Guide - is a good resource that highlights a variety of features and options.
Once you’ve selected your enterprise 2.0 software, create a roadmap so that your adoption is a fluid process.
The Adoption Strategy:
Here are six areas to focus on according to industry veteran and Socialtext, CCO Michael Idinopulos.
1. Make sure your champion team is in place. Champions are people within your company that will eventually become your triggers to user engagement. Choose champions that represent different aspects of your company, are team leaders, or who are passionate about being part of a project that will be highly visible. Since this is a huge but very rewarding venture, these people can streamline the process when each has a defined task.
2. Launch with a bang and replace your intranet with a vibrant social dashboard. This opening page can house everything including all company forms, new hire info, suggestion boxes, competitive intelligence, calendar events, C-level blogs, the company directory and more bringing accessibility to information one click away.
3. Create engagement with hands-on activities for new users. The first could be filling in their profile with personal info, photos, professional experiences, areas of expertise, interests and more. These profiles can identify potential project members with specific skill sets or interests. It can also replace the company directory as a more dynamic social profile and communications platform.
4. Focus on ongoing activities. Practice makes perfect and shifting daily routines to the social intranet will help users ease into usage where they’ll be social without even knowing it. Suggestions include, sharing company news via microblogging (signals); posting interesting articles and useful materials through the activity stream; posting meeting agendas and notes prior to the meeting; taking notes live directly in the wiki; and creating Q&A forums about products, services, processes and more.
5. Integrate existing systems of record into the flow of work. A social enterprise platform should allow you to pull information from third party applications and external websites as well as build proprietary widgets that tie into your own internal systems. Using APIs to enable custom integration that automatically imports data to wiki pages from internal systems of records such as your company directory, company intranet, document management systems (Sharepoint, RSS feeds), CRM systems and even email, will automatically increase adoption.
6. Leverage the community by bringing them into the conversation. Your platform should allow for an infrastructure that lets users create an active community. Take the first step by posting ideas, questions and tips that have worked for you. This would also be a good project for your champion team. Learning from your peers provides insight and knowledge that can move any organization forward into positive results.
Overall, you want to take the “stress” out of the process. With a plan in place, it’s also important to let the adoption process unfold organically. Too much too soon can overwhelm employees and slow up usage. As people determine they are benefitting, they become more engaged and usage goes up. At this point they are more open to exploring other areas within your platform. When enterprise social software is placed in the flow of work, software gets adopted. With a strong plan and team eager to embrace this challenge, you will have the confidence you need to watch your adoption go through the roof.
For a more detailed analysis of how to increase social software adoption, download our free whitepaper, 6 Steps to Drive Social Software Adoption.