Ignore Technology

I posted a tweet recently that one of the lessons learnt in the implementation of our Enterprise Social Network (ESN) was “Ignore Technology”. I think it confused some people, it sounds wrong, afterall an ESN is technology. Isn’t it?

It’s true that we spent a long time thinking a lot about the technology; from infrastructure and hosting, to functionality, to user experience and design.

But if I think about what a successful ESN is those aren’t the things I think of, if I talk to new users or to managers those things do not come up in conversation. Trust me the fasted way to kill interest in an ESN is talk about the infrastructure behind it.

It’s much more important to focus on the people using the ESN, they’ll be the ones truly making it a success. Here’s a handy guide from Joyce Hostyn demonstrating the difference in the questions you’ll face with a people-centric approach vs a technology-centric approach.

Of course you cannot have an Enterprise Social Network without technology, of course the project implementation phase is focused on making the technology work. And I’m genuinely convinced that bad technology and bad user design are demotivating. But good technolgy and great design are not enough. In fact technology in many digital or intranet projects is comparable to a hygeine factor in Herzberg’s two factor model of motivation. It is not a case of “If you build it they will come”.

My not-so-secret KPI for the success of Buzz (our ESN) is this.

It will be a success when it is just the way we work.

The conversations I have about building adoption are about what’s in it for the user, what business purpose an Enterprise Social Network might have, how can community managers and leaders get the most out of it. We almost never talk about technology. Very occasionally a user might propose a functional change but that’s the most I ever talk about technology.

I think a successful ESN means a culture change in many large companies, and making it successful means relentless attention to answering “what’s in it for me?” for all the people using the technology.

Image; Technology

Engagement on an Enterprise Social Network

We’ve implemented an Enterprise Social Network, we’ve solved a mass of connectivity issues, so everyone can access the site. We know that 80-90% of employees have visited the site at least once, which is great news. Our challenge now is how to really engage people on the platform.

At a recent event I asked what engagement meant; we talk about it a lot, but I wanted a simple, recognisable definition we could use. It’s definitely more than happy employees.

If I look towards Human Resources research on employee engagement definitions like “an “engaged employee” is one who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work, and thus will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests.” Which sounds great in theory – but not easy to apply to a social media platform, and not easily measured.

Marketers looking at online transactions talk about engagement as something akin to process completion. Here’s one definition; “The amount of key processes completed during a visitor’s lifetime prioritized and analyzed across the site as a whole or within pre-defined segments.” It makes sense for marketers who may have a pre-defined outcome in mind but it won’t fit an Enterprise Social Network.

In our discussion on Tuesday one of the participants came up with a definition that is easy to understand, easy to spot, and relatively easy to measure.

Engagement on an enterprise social network = people helping each other.

It’s simple, it reflects the vision we had when building Buzz (our Enterprise Social Network) that it would facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration, and it’s something everyone can recognise. In fact our participants are way ahead of us, they’ve created a hashtag #buzzworks, applied when they see someone being helped on the platform.


Year in Review

Screen Shot 2012-12-31 at 2.17.24 PMIt’s traditional to review the year, and think back on the highs and lows. So here goes – my year in review.

Biggest Work Achievement

We launched an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) this year, I think we started the project before that term was invented. We’ve called it Buzz and so far we have established global connectivity, set up community manager training, seeded several communities and won a company award for it all. There are still a lot of challenges to come, but this is huge.

Big Thing I Learnt

Manage upwards more than one layer. I had a great boss, who knew something about the digital world and supported me as a manager and on my projects. When she left there was a huge gap – I’m working on filling the vacuum.

Small Thing I Learnt

DJing. I got to pretend to be a DJ during a workshop. It was a lot of fun, and it turns out that it’s not that difficult if you can count to eight.

Best Read of 2012

The best book I read on a social media theme has to be Revolution 2.0 by Wael Ghonim, with reports coming out of Egypt of ongoing disputes around the new constitution it’s not clear what the ultimate outcome will be. However this book showed how much people will do with social media tools – using it in ways the inventors probably didn’t imagine.

Best fiction of the year The Book of Dave by Will Self, I struggled with the dialect at first but it was worth it, the book is darkly funny tale of a dystopian future.

My Favourite Internet Meme

There were a lot of internet memes to choose from this year, for me the hands down winner Martha and Never Seconds. Martha started out just wanting to use photos of her school meals in her blog to raise awareness of the (low) quality. The council tried to block her using the photos, which caused outrage. She ended up raising over 100,000 GBP for school meals in Malawi, and building a community online where people around the world share photos of their lunch. Martha is 9.

My Favourite Cat Meme

Cat memes thrive on the internet, this year my favourite must be Henri; the world’s first feline existentialist.

2012 image licenced from clipartof.