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The road to social business transformation: 12 success factors [KM World]
[January 14, 2013]

The road to social business transformation: 12 success factors [KM World]

(KM World Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Information technology (GG) is used to planning projects with linear timelines, aligned work streams and key milestone dates. For social business programs, that's necessary, of course, but it's not sufficient. The project team must also expect and plan for barriers, delays and the need for new thinking. Here are four cases where that's exactly what happened: * The State of Minnesota Office of Enterprise Technology ( rolled out Microsoft ( Office 365 to 60,000 government workers, enabling state agencies to easily work with one another through a common collaboration platform. It also freed the GG department to partner with the business to help business leaders creatively address problems, instead of simply rationing constrained GG resources.

* SAS ( built a social collaboration tool called "The Hub" on Socialcast ( technology to provide employees with a secure place to have and capture business conversations. The Hub now boasts more than 900 employeecreated groups that give workers access to information and connects them to people across the organization - including executives - to get things done.

* Kindred Healthcare ( made mobile collaboration based on sales and iPads (apple.comApad) into a powerful sales tool. Before the iPad program, "clinical liaison" salespeople worked inconsistently with paper-based sales tools and manual processes, and sales executives had little data on what content and approaches worked best. Clinical liaisons now use video content to educate patients, share information immediately with patient families via e-mail, and prepare for meetings with maps and medical staff information.

* Symantec ( created a customer listening command center around sales's Radian 6 technology. The system, manned five days a week by staff in 28 different time zones, funnels social media commentary to workers in nine different groups across Symantec based on a sophisticated classification scheme. That lets Symantec react more quickly to customer needs and work toward improving the customer experience.

In the interviews we conducted for our Social Business and Collaboration Playbook, program champions told us that they learned as they went. As they identified organizational, workforce and technology barriers, they relentlessly adjusted their goals, approaches and even tools.

So, in addition to the linear timeline, prepare to meet as a cross-functional steering committee to identify barriers and opportunities in order to make adjustments as you progress. From four detailed case studies and our work with hundreds of Forrester ( clients, we have identified 12 success factors for building your roadmap for the organization, workforce and technology.

Organization: adjusted as needed, not rigidly predetermined Starting with the organizational challenges and requirement to adapt, the CIO and his or her project team must be able to say: 1. We have strong business sponsorship and participation. None of the cases we studied for this report would have succeeded without managers and executives opening doors for the key players. In the case of Symantec's social listening program, the CTO gave his digital strategy manager the freedom to independently build the program and also provided the pilot's funding. Executives are also essential in demonstrating the value of the technology. At SAS, the CEO got the ball rolling on the company's social collaboration tool, The Hub, by incorporating it into his quarterly company meeting to solicit feedback and questions from employees.

2. Our organizational culture will accept any work style changes required. The technologists in the GG department can roll out beautifully designed social business tools, but it won't matter if the business has cultural barriers to collaboration. So, it's essential that executives lay the groundwork for collaboration. For example, SAS 's executives have created a corporate culture that focuses on keeping employees connected and engaged. That inherent quality of the business led to GG and corporate communication managers working together to create The Hub to facilitate conversations in the business.

3. We have agreement and active participation of all IT stakeholders. Since the IT department will ultimately be the shepherd of social business technology, the entire IT staff must be bought in. In particular, this means that the workers cannot feel that the technology threatens or changes their job in a warrantless manner. When the State of Minnesota Office of Enterprise Technology implemented Office 365, GG leaders had to convince collaboration technology administrators that the shift didn't threaten their jobs, rather freed them to do other, more business-relevant tasks.

4. We have worked with leaders across the business to get their input and buy-in. Even if the senior executives in the organization are invested in the technology, a social business initiative cannot succeed if middle managers do not feel this way of working will help them and their teams hit their goals. So, it behooves the CIO and staff to ensure they know and address the needs of the business. At SAS, the GG leadership brought together a group of approximately 30 business stakeholders to develop a list of requirements for its collaboration tool. The group came up with 100 criteria that were then used to select technology from activity stream provider Socialcast.

Workforce: people-oriented, not technology-constrained The CIO and staff must next turn their attention to the workforce. If employees cannot be convinced to embrace social business, then all of the technology implementation efforts will be for naught. Those in the G department can only really address employee needs if they know the answer to the following question: Are we aligning the social business strategy with the issues employees face Answering "yes" means the IT department can say: 5. We understand workers' needs and deploy technologies accordingly. Our data consistently shows that employees embrace social business technologies that they say help them do their jobs. So it is imperative that the CIO and staff map their technology choices to employee need. For example, AKQA's ( executive director of IT, Robert Burns, replaced an online project management tool with cloud-based teaming tool Huddle (, which allowed project staffers to easily share information with clients and access content when outside the corporate firewall.

6. Employees understand how to apply the technologies. The social business transformation begins with getting employees engaged and comfortable with the technology. That means the IT group must work with executives and groups like corporate communication to create training and marketing programs. SAS 's rollout of its social collaboration tool, The Hub, coincided with a week of training and marketing events geared toward teaching employees how to use the technology and boosting awareness.

7. Employees meaningfully use the technologies. Social business and collaboration is only valuable if it has a substantive, positive effect on the business bottom line. As such, employees must not simply use social business tools - they must apply them to business problems. That means business processes must be reshaped to integrate those tools. Symantec designed its social listening program so that specific types of social media communications were seamlessly routed to the appropriate employee. For example, if the listening tool uncovers an unauthorized entity selling Symantec software, the message is routed to the legal group.

8. We've provided guidance and incentives to ensure adoption. In addition to putting social business tools front and center in a business process, IT needs to work with business leaders to ensure that employees have a reason to continue using the technology. For example, SAS' s executives embraced The Hub for their town hall meetings with employees. That provided workers a method of interacting with top management that was not available before. And once employees used the tools in that setting, it opened the door for other uses.

Technology: collaborative with the business, not dictated by IT Finally, the CIO and staff must look at a technology vendor's offering with an eye toward one question: Can this vendor be our strategic partner for our social business transformation For a vendor to qualify, the CIO and staff must be able to say: 9. The technology integrates into our business environment Social business tools must integrate with legacy systems - such as an organization's existing business apps and PC desktop infrastructure. They must also fit in with how workers work (e.g., stationary vs. mobile), the language(s) they speak, when they work (e.g., Eastern Daylight Time vs. Central European Summer Time) and the various legal environments they inhabit. The State of Minnesota's Office 365 deployment allowed workers to continue using the familiar Outlook client while providing the e-mailintensive organization a larger e-mail inbox.

10. We trust the vendor's social business vision and ability to deliver. What the vendor proposes in terms of technology and support must align with the social business GG and business leaders want to create. To that end, IT leaders must have a clear understanding of their requirements as they evaluate vendors. SAS decided to build its social collaboration tool on technology from Socialcast because it was easy to use and provided integrations into SAS 's legacy systems through its integration toolkit, known as Reach.

11. The technology scales to meet our organization's needs. IT leaders must evaluate whether a vendor's technology can cover the company's employee footprint, as well as cover its geographic reach, while also being nimble enough to tackle a range of use cases for the business. The decision-makers at Symantec chose's Radian 6 technology because it could be used to address the concerns of a number of different groups in the company around the world. So, the social media listening tool assists product managers, marketers, sales personnel and lawyers to name a few groups.

12. The technology meets our security and compliance requirements. If IT leadership cannot ensure the security and compliance officers that social business technology will not get the company in trouble with regulators, it puts an end to the initiative. So, the CIO and staff should first understand the ins and outs of their regulatory environment by going to the source and then mapping that back to the technology's capabilities. For example, the State of Minnesota Office of Enterprise Technology undertook an initiative to vet Microsoft's cloud collaboration offering that included performing its own review of applicable federal and state regulations on information security.

With these principles in place, your organization, workforce and technology have a good chance of learning from and adapting to each other on the road to social business transformation.

Three principles for social business transformation To execute social business transformation, keep these principles in mind as you put together the project road map: 1 Organization: adjusted as needed, not rigidly predetermined. All too often, technology .and the organization are an irresistible force and immovable object respectively, destined to clash. In our case studies and other client projects, we have found that both the technology and the organization must adapt So while CIOs can and should stress flexibility and adaptability in their road maps, IT leaders must also listen and adapt as they implement those strategies.

The organizational buy-in and adaptation are much easier if you identify a burning platform for change. If business teams don't yet have a compelling reason to use the social tools technology, then find one. It won't take much: A simple brainstorm on the business benefits of using the technology to improve business productivity and customer outcomes can go far. In one global bank, it's the Australian operation that has had the most success using social collaboration tools. Its burning platform The need to improve service to high net-worth customers across all commercial product lines. Their social collaboration tool-IBM ( Connections-makes it easy to bring a diverse multiproduct team together to address a customer's immediate questions and find opportunities in each other's ideas and questions.

2 Workforce: people-oriented, not technology-constrained. IT professionals understand from experience that foisting new tools on people and hoping for the best does not spur adoption or meaningful use. We have found that successful social business transformations require listening carefully to what works and what doesn't, and acting accordingly.

To learn what employees need from the technology, create an early adopter advisory council. This informal group of employees, leaders and IT staff meets periodically or after a deployment to debrief and find opportunities to improve the tool. You should buttress the work of that group with periodic surveys of the broader workforce to ensure that you're not tuning your social business strategy for only the most advanced users. One global life sciences company has taken this principle to the level of high art by rewarding field sales staff (using iPads and in this case) to identify problems, listen to their colleagues and suggest solutions. Their reward is recognition by sales executives as future leaders.

3 Technology: collaborative with the business, not dictated by IT. In today's and consumerization world, businesspeople often have the clearest ideas for how technology can transform work processes or customer collaboration. We drilled into this idea of people-led technology solutions in our book Empowered. This same principle works with social business transformation projects.

To implement this technology execution principle, IT should work very hard to establish close ties with business leaders and ensure that the IT organization's technology infrastructure can support the business' needs. This is the foundational principle behind our business technology research: the idea that IT must strike the right balance between core systems and business services like sales apps or in-store technology. These business technology solutions are often a key part of business operations, often owned directly by the business.

TJ Keitt is a senior analyst and Ted Schadler is a VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research (, where they serve CIOs and contriPuted to Forrester's Social Business and CoIlaPoration Playbook, e-mail and

(c) 2013 Information Today, Inc.

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