Gaurav, a software professional was having a hard time to generate ideas for a new project. The client was very demanding and kept pushing Gaurav to accelerate the development of the project. Gaurav logged onto his favorite social network and posted his concerns. Several of his colleagues, many other professional across the globe etc, shared their inputs and suggestions and Gaurav was able to source ideas for an innovative and effective deployment plan.
This is but a single of numerous scenarios that demonstrate the widening applications of social technologies. The power of ‘social’ is seeping into the core of an enterprises’ functionality. The benefit of social technologies is that it is able to create a network of individuals who share similar interests, problems and experiences etc.
“According to the 2012 IBM Tech Trends study, 43% of 1200 business heads who interviewed said that they were planning to increase their investment in social business.”
Few years ago social networking platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and many others were strictly ‘no-access’ in many organizations. They were either banned or not accessible on office networks. The IT administrators were strictly asked to be in lookout for those who use these sites, wasting time and possibly compromising with confidential data and information. But the scenario is gradually changing as the organizations are slowly realizing the tremendous potential of ‘social’. However, there are still come companies that discourage their employees to use these sites, but they are slowly realizing the potential of social networking and in fact, there are some who scrutinize social profiles of the candidates who are shortlisted for recruitment.
Jeff Bowman, global head of e-business for Caterpillar, the $66 billion company that is into designing, manufacturing and selling heavy machinery believes, “accelerating customer growth and loyalty at every touch-point is critical and social media is a great tool for that’.
Social technologies allow you to break away from the traditional organizational structure and hierarchy that has been driving the businesses. These networks are enriched by conversations and content. Employees start threads and post ideas while the leaders can participate with their own ideas leading to the democratization of communication and fosters collaboration. As business process goes complex and real-time, IT managers are looking at social technologies to help employees accelerate decision making, problem solving and innovation.
The ‘social’ technologies are great option, but it also has its challenges. Not every organization is ready to accept the open culture and the diminishing boundaries of organizational hierarchy. For some organization, information security is a key concern and social media could make the organization leaky. There are also doubts about the cost effectiveness of adopting social media. If used rightly, it can be contributing to the revenue factor. There is also the issue of the lack of managerial understanding among enterprises which forbids social technologies.
But the benefits also weight no less. If understood and used properly, it can add to organization’s success and productivity. Using social media however, requires a sound strategy and management towards making social media an integral part of business. Ultimately, the power of social media depends on full and active participation of the employees who are not afraid of sharing their ideas and contributions without a fear of rejection and trust that their contributions will be respected.