Social Collaboration Can Enable Collaboration — But It’s Only a Tool

by Granville Triumph

Building effective teams is one of my passions. It is always exciting to take a group of people who generally fit the organizational culture and help meld them into a team with a passion for serving customers and advancing the organization’s objectives.

But it’s not a one-time event. In fact, the word “nurturing” might better describe the team-building process. Individuals need an environment that fosters collaboration and effective tools for communicating and sharing information. The latter is particular vital in an organization that is spread out geographically.

The methods of communication within an organization have obviously evolved over the years, from phone to email to instant messaging. And now Gartner predicts that enterprise social networks will become the primary communication channels for noticing, deciding or acting on information relevant to carrying out work. However, Gartner. estimates that through 2015, 80 percent of social business efforts will not achieve the intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology.

As a result, the leaders of social business initiatives need to shift their emphasis away from deciding which technology to implement and instead should focus on identifying how social initiatives will improve work practices for both individual contributors and managers. They need a detailed understanding of social networks: how people are currently working, who they work with and what their needs are.

Gartner outlined two additional key predictions around social and collaboration: By 2016, 50 percent of large organizations will have internal Facebook-like social networks, and that 30 percent of these will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today.

Using Facebook-like enterprise social networking software for communication has several advantages over email and traditional check-in/check-out repository-centric collaboration in terms of information capture and reuse, group organization, and social filtering. A Facebook-like social networking environment within an organization can be used as a general-purpose communication channel where information and events that originate in external systems — such as email, office applications and business applications — can be injected into

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