Swiss State of Social Business Collaboration – On the Way to the Connected Enterprise

The corporate social software technologies are developing fast. And a new way of doing business in the information age is evolving under the term ‘Social Business’. With additional layers of opportunities arising, how customers are served, corporate strategies are defined, corporate values are found and business challenges are solved in an agile way.

Swiss Global Leaders are leading the way to a collaborative future with different methodologies, cookbooks and frameworks used and steps taken, building a social business (Picture courtesy by ZHAW and Lardi Partner).

Best practices by Swiss Re, Silca and ABB

At events from IBM, Swiss RE and Microsoft reference were presented to the public. IBM’s Connection reference is the internal network @ Sika unveiled from Christian Frey at the IBM Symposium.  Microsoft let Veronique ‪Vallieres give a peek into the ABB’s Social Journey with Yammer. And Christoph Isenschmid with Swiss Re outlined in the Risk Talk on Social Media and the Financial Industry, how the Re-Insurer is using Jive to support the business transformation. And Christophe Comte from Nestle outlined at the Social Hub, on how the digital team is integrating Corporate and Consumer Communication and is rolling out a collaboration initiative, called the ‘Nest’ .

Different approaches…

The starting point and approaches do different from each other. With Silka an Engineering-like approach was taken, Swiss Re replaced an existing knowledge management system with a sharp eye on the change management process and ABB started with a bottom-up-pilot. With different timelines, when the adoption reached the critical mass towards a social business maturity shifting out of the first gear to benefit from the additional layers of opportunities.

… similar benefits

The gains from using collaborative tools are widely open. Productivity gains from less travel time and searching for information, faster time to respond to client issues, match talent to tasks. Or as Andrea Back from Enterprise 2.0 Competence Center of University St. Gallen summarized at IBM Connect: faster time to market, acceleration of processes, more knowledge about the company and their products, improved team work, ability to solve complex problems, better development and marketing of intangible products, increasing ability to innovate, development of employees, access of the crowd intelligence potential, improvement of self-consulting abilities of the organization, become Generation Y ready, support of employee motivation and support of competence and talent management.

Preparing for the shift needs an updated value set

To prepare for such a transformative change in the system the corporate values needs to be updated in asking the employees how they imagine to work in the future. A great example on how new corporate values are defined – or as the Attlassian CEO mentioned: “You don’t define values – you find them” is IBM with their Value Jam in letting the Big Blue Elephant dance

Semantic Big Data Analytics as key driver

If the organization has undergone the learning curve and reached the plateau of productivity,  they are ready for Entreprise 2.0. In this new phase of a Corporation’s Lifecycle, strategies with ABB for example, are not discussed anymore by only a small group meeting in Switzerland – but are collaboratively found with the whole global organization in a “Online Strategy Roundtable”.
This kind of communication generates a lot of unstructured information in the form of likes, comments in natural language and social relationships. To analyze and process these data-sets, new tools come to place to help respond to questions like: do my employees support the new initiative in terms of the sentiment? Who are the key influencers against or in favor for? What are the most discussed or relevant issue we should take into consideration?

Smarter decisions finding based on unstructured data

In companies 80 % of the data volume are unstructured. But only 5 % of them are used in the decision making process. So with technology developments in the fields of semantic analysis, artificial intelligence and natural language processing new game changing possibilities are arising, that will have an impact as the invention of the WWW had.
Personally I am very happy to see that the technology is finally ready to deliver the promise we made back in 2001 – sending the first SmartBots to work in Switzerland with the Dot-Com Company Artificial Life.

Where to Start? How to Accelerate?

Companies are now gathering first experiences with social collaboration technologies, have stopped their attempts or are in the process of rolling out the infrastructure right now, or after a short peak only little activity is happening. Here are the questions that came up in my talks with executives: Where to start? How to drive adoption? Provide a guidance trough the collaborative tool jungle or how to align the collaborative initiatives with corporate strategy and company culture? Beside the operational issues, the question is, how to sell a collaborative initiative to the board? What kind of governance is needed and how do I measure the return on investment?

With our systemic consulting approach described as ‘Social Business Engineering’ we ‘humanly’ support leaders to find answer to the questions and guide your organization to a ‘Collaborative Future’.

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