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    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    • There was no sense of content ownership either, there was content posted that was so outdated that it talked about releases that happened years prior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!

    5 Tips for Integrating Social Collaboration into Your HR Department

    When it comes to the workplace, there is no better place for social collaboration. The ability to share and discuss in a real-time platform makes collaboration and everyday communication easier and more effective.

    While everyone in the office will benefit from social integration, the process should start in your HR department. While HR software has evolved immensely over the years, social platforms allow the entire office to work as one in the most efficient way. From onboarding new Millennial employees, to collecting important paperwork, your human resources department has the most to gain from social.

    The Onboard Process

    While many HR professionals have moved to the world of social media to find the right candidates, it’s the onboarding process that has much to gain from social opportunities. Experts here at SocialText.com have previously discussed opportunity within the onboarding process, suggesting, “Social tools can be used to streamline the processes associated with bringing on a new hire and provide a better overall experience.” So, how can you integrate the process in your business?

    • Adapt to learning styles: Not every new hire will move at the same pace or adapt as quickly as one another. Thus, using a social onboarding process allows them to take time outside of work to go through the process instead of using all in-house materials only available within the office.
    • Include everyone: New employees may often feel lost in a sea of new faces and duties. When utilizing social onboarding you can include everyone within the company.

    Sharing Documentation

    Your HR department is responsible for more paperwork than they’d like to be. From standard business insurance forms to emergency contact info and scheduling, the process of manually filling out forms and keeping them in up to date is inefficient, costing you time and money. A social program may allow employees to view, hand-in and edit important information themselves.

    • Record keeping: Even with as little as 50 employees, it can be time consuming to update records as changes happen; a social program can improve that process. For example, employees can update spousal and address changes themselves from within your social program. This takes work out of your HR department’s hands and lets employees take charge of this important information themselves.

    Internal Social Networks

    While standard business practices have much to gain from social collaboration, your culture can benefit even more so. Your employees utilize a variety of social networks outside of work to stay in touch with friends and family, so why not bring a similar platform into the office.

    Utilizing social within the office not only improves collaboration but allows your employees to connect with one another on a level that is familiar to them. There are a number of ways you can do this.

    • Popular networks: Networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to have private groups, and this is a great place to gather your employees. Here you can share company photos and encourage conversation.
    • In-office documents: Real-time editing and sharing makes your office move most efficiently throughout the day; no documents lost to inbox overload, etc.

    While our personal lives are getting more social with each new network, so is the business world. With younger employees joining the workforce in large numbers, it’s important that finding the most efficient and effective way to engage them while maintaining standard business practices; social collaboration within your HR department is a smart way to achieve that all important balance.

    Jessica Sanders, a guest contributor to the Socialtext blog, is an avid small business writer. As the marketing copyeditor of www.ResourceNation.com, she touches on a range of topics such as business management. Find Resource Nation on Facebook, too!

    6 Tips for Pushing Adoption Through the Roof

    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 bookThe 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.

    New videos on editing pages, images and more!

    We’ve been busy over here at Socialtext, adding new features and enhancing our latest version of Socialtext 5.0.  Here’s some training videos we’ve put together that highlight some of those new features and enhancements.

    Socialtext Page Editor

    Our easy to use page editor enables you to create pages just like you would in any document editing program.  You can easily change fonts, background color, add bullets, numbered lists, tables of any size, insert images or videos…. The list goes on and on – take a look here.

    Working With Images – Basics

    This video will walk you through the basics of adding images to your pages, how to size images and how to align them as well as few extra tidbits we’ve thrown in.

    Working With Images – Advanced

    Here, you’ll learn how to apply some advanced functions to your images such as word wrapping, adding image borders, linking to a website and more.

    Working with Tables

    Working with tables has never been easier, this handy tutorial will show you how to add tables into your pages and specify the exact look you want for them, including alignment within the page, or defining the size of columns and rows. Our handy one click icons enable you to quickly add rows and columns, move rows and columns or just cells.   You can also customize cells with color backgrounds and also enable sorting on different columns or rows.  We’ve also added a bonus tip so be sure to watch the video to find that tip.

    How Social Software Helps People Get Work Done

    The opening section of the following slides shows how social software has evolved from tools that “help individuals be more productive” to “services that let people share and discover information with almost anyone, anywhere in the world.”

    This is followed by information and tips that can help promote active and ongoing use of social software tools within your organization.

    Podcast About Socialtext and the Social Software Industry

    Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Lisa Duke on the “Get Social. Do Business” podcast. It’s an hour long, so I’ve included a timeline of the topics discussed to help you jump around to the areas that interest you the most.

    Download episode as MP3

    00:45 – 06:03 – Alan’s background and move from IBM to Socialtext (skip this!)

    06:20 – 09:16 – Socialtext’s background and beliefs. How Socialtext decides what to build and how we implement features with enterprise needs and business benefits in mind. It’s not just taking the latest consumer buzzword and making an internal version of it.

    10:05 – Overview of Socialtext’s features and benefits. How social software helps people share information, get answers to questions, find people and content to help them get work done.
    11:28 – 15:06 Dashboards, Activity Streams, Microblogging (Socialtext Signals) = Social Intranet that helps connect people and content
    15:07 – 19:02 Workspaces where wiki pages and online spreadsheets are used to turn business processes into social applications.

    20:45 – 24:00 – The key to success with social software is integrating the new tools into the existing processes that run your business.

    25:50 – 30:40 – Socialtext’s SaaS deployment and access options: Hosted (single-tenet or multi-tenet) or on-premises (hardware appliance or VMware) – web browser, Adobe AIR desktop client or mobile browser access.

    32:45 – 38:00 – Understanding SaaS based product updates – How “we’re running on an old version” is a thing of the past. Removing any fear that an IT department has about new versions.

    40:15 – 46:00 – What’s the role of business partners in the ecosystem of the social software world? Partner opportunities include reselling software, building add-on tools, adding specialized functionality, building connectors to other systems, etc. Gone are the days where consultants make big money for installing, upgrading, configuring and managing systems. (unless the customer is using a Java or .Net based platform)

    50:00 – 51:30 – So if partners don’t have to install/configure/maintain systems, then what does a “services team” do? It’s more about business consulting, helping customers integrate social software into business processes.

    51:45 – 54:50 – What are some of Socialtext’s competitive advantages? Frequent release schedules. Multiple deployment options. Established thought leaders in social software and understanding customer needs. Reputation for being a good “partner” to our customers, not an arrogant vendor. Simple to purchase and get up and running quickly. (note: I forgot to mention our awesome API!)

    55:20 – 1:01:45 – What benefits are customers seeing? How is Socialtext helping their businesses? (see: http://www.socialtext.com/customers/) People being able to find content and colleagues helps them get their job done better, leading to faster customer response times, better internal communication, sharing of ideas, etc. Stories about Getty Images, Epitaph Records, Industrial Perfection Mold & Machine, ISS Mexico, FONA, and more.

    1:01:50 – 1:04:30 Using Socialtext for extranets with your customers (B2B) – ex: GT Nexus. How communities can interact not only with the vendor, but also with other customers.

    Sharing Links Via Enterprise Microblogging

    One of the main tenets of social software is sharing information with your peers, and one of the most popular ways of doing that is by sharing links.  These links could point to breaking news from a popular web site, a press release from one of your competitors, a question from a customer or important business content your authoring with your team. Regardless of the topic, Socialtext makes link sharing easy, by providing a variety of tools that integrate sharing into the flow of the way you work.

    Workspace Pages

    When you’re reading a Socialtext workspace page that you want to share, just click the “Signal This!” action in the page’s toolbar. This will display a dialog box where you can enter any additional text that you’d like to include (ex: “Team, here is a great page about…”), choose the group you’d like to share it with and add additional attachments or tags.  When you click Post, a message will be created in the Signals stream with a link back to the workspace page.

    signal this workspace page

    Web Pages

    So what if you’re reading a web page that is not in Socialtext?  Using the “Signal This!” bookmarklet, sharing a link to any web page via Socialtext Signals is a snap, or well a click. Just like with the Signal This! feature mentioned above, you can post the signal to everyone or to a specific Socialtext group.

    To install the “Signal This!” action on your toolbar, first go to the Signals page of your Socialtext account.  Next, scroll down to the bottom of the Signals stream.  There you will see “Use the Signal This! bookmarklet to share any page on the web via Signals.“  Click on the link and follow the instructions for your browser.

    Notify Colleagues About Comments or Edits

    The two examples above are about sharing links to something you’re reading.  But what about a Socialtext page you’re contributing to? Well, Socialtext makes it just as easy to let people know when you’re editing a page or adding comments.  In either case, before you hit save, just click on the checkbox to “Signal this edit/comment”, choose the group you’d like to notify, and when the page is saved Socialtext will automatically post a signal with a link back to the page.

    Enterprise Microblogging is a great way to share information with your team.  As you can see above, with Socialtext there is no need to copy and paste URLs or move back and forth between different tools. Sharing a link is always just a click away.  So start right now. Go on and share a link to this article with your colleagues and show them just how easy it is.

    Avatar Theme Days Are A Fun Way To Increase Microblogging Adoption

    video game avatars

    Yesterday one of our developers changed his profile picture to Blinky, the red ghost from Pac-Man. This sparked a series of updates from other people (I’m DigDug) and a fun conversation ensued. While this may not be “business-related” it did result in good team camaraderie, which is especially nice in a distributed team.

    Similar events happen on the open-web, where people change their photos for a specific cause, to celebrate a holiday or to support their favourite sports team. I remember when everyone became a Japanese manga character, Simpson-ized themselves (site is down), or created vintage yearbook photos.

    The point being, these are all social actions. They get people involved, talking and sharing. Microblogging is a great medium for participation and as more people inside your organization become comfortable with the tools, you will start to achieve greater business value.

    So what theme-days do you want to have?

    Instant Messaging Integration

    When you need a quick answer from a specific person, instant messaging or even talking to them is sometimes the best solution. To make it easy to contact people, Socialtext provides integration with Skype, AOL Instant Messenger, and Yahoo Instant Messenger. For example, you can see a person’s Skype, AIM, or Yahoo Messenger status on their Socialtext profile, then click to begin a chat session.

    Skype on profile

    There are several other integration points which I will explain below, but I want to point out that often the conversations you are having via chat could serve a broader audience if you held them openly via microblogging with Socialtext Signals.

    Say you have a question about an upcoming conference. You could send a Skype message directly to the VP of Marketing, wait for them to respond, hopefully get your answer, and be done. Or, you could post the same question to the Marketing Group in Signals, providing the opportunity for all members of the group to be involved in the conversation, rather than relying on just the VP. Also, content in Signals is searchable, so if someone else has the same question, they may be able to find the answer without asking, which they could not if the conversation was locked away in email or chat history.

    Anyway, here are other places in Socialtext that instant messaging integration is available.

    When you hover your mouse over a person’s name or photo, their business card is displayed, including their online status.

    Skype on hovercard

    You can also add Skype links to any Socialtext wiki page using the insert menu.

    Insert - Chat menu

    Including SocialCalc spreadsheet pages.

    Skype on page

    As you can see, Socialtext provides you with several choices on how to communicate with your colleagues. However, if you’re a long time chat user who has not yet started using microblogging, I suggest you give using Signals a try. I think you’ll quickly start to see the benefits of holding more open conversations.

    Enterprise Microblogging Enables Everyone To Participate

    Conversations via email and instant messaging only reach a limited audience. Often those conversations would benefit from allowing more people to participate. This is where enterprise microblogging comes in.

    Three of the most beneficial uses of enterprise microblogging are: (click each for more details)

    1. Status Updates
    2. Questions and Answers
    3. Sharing Links

    There are many other uses in addition to these three, what are your favourites?

    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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