4 steps to a successful enterprise social adoption

by Jakob Dorph Broager
October 31, 2014
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Fighting with a crowded inbox? Looking for better ways to collaborate? Many vendors are fighting to use a part of your budget to help address these types of challenges, but what are the best practices for adopting enterprise social technology in a successful way? Martin Risgaard Rasmussen, application consultant at Microsoft, spends his working hours on helping customers with exactly this.

According to Martin, a key point is to keep focus on the people using the new technology than on the technology itself. Martin was among the last to get a Yammer business card prior to the acquisition by Microsoft and has previously worked with internal communications and enterprise collaboration on the customer side at organisations such as Arla Foods and Grundfos. With his experience from both sides of the table, we asked him to share 4 tangible steps on how to succeed with enterprise social adoption.

1. Define a vision and identify business scenarios

The overall vision for enterprise social in your company will be the guiding star for the initiative as a whole. It is the idea that all employees must support. Without a vision you will not be able to answer one of the most fundamental questions you will hear: “Why are we doing this?” – The vision is the answer. The business scenarios that you define are the examples that make the vision come alive.

2. Map to usage scenarios and create an adoption plan

If creating a compelling vision for the new initiative answers “the why” then the next question is very likely to be “So, how do we do it? And what does it mean for me?” This is where things become much more tactical. You focus on how new technology can empower people to work differently and how the tools can facilitate these new ways of working. The result is a plan for what it takes for both individuals and the organisation to adopt a new way of working – all with respect for both the people but also the contexts.

A crucial part of the adoption plan is about communication. One of the most frequent roads to failed projects is when organisations try to make a “stealthy” pilot. Social is viral and you simply must communicate openly about the initiative. In the end it is all about openness and transparency

3. Commit resources and execute on adoption plan

You have a plan – now execute! It sounds simple and if you listen to many evangelists and ‘gurus’ talking about enterprise social, it sounds a little like magic. The reality is very different. Proper adoption requires committed resources (time and money) as well as the right people to act as change agents. These are some of the early adopters and as such they become instrumental in ‘translating’ benefits and promoting new ways of working to other in their teams. We are talking about people who are intrinsically motivated to make the change happen which is why the most important thing for the central enterprise social team is to make the change agents feel appreciated and part of the change.

4. Measure, share success, and iterate

Show me the money! Well, It’s not Jerry Maguire shouting at you but you will get the question many times in the process either from peers or from managers. The best way to answer this is simply by going back to your first scenarios and establish a quantified current state and future state. Make sure to include more qualitative measures as well. This can be valuable dialogues that happen as a result of using new tools or other anecdotal evidence that teams improve performance as a result of the new ways of working. Numbers and KPIs are great but anecdotes and stories are just as powerful when talking about results.

It’s an iterative process

That was 4 steps to success. I will not imply that this is simple, but compared to other projects there are some differences. Fundamentally this will be an iterative process and if you make this a part of the communication, people will understand that you may not have all answers but you are in this together with a lot of people. It is not the ‘them and us’ challenge that IT projects traditionally struggle with – this is a “we” effort most importantly it also means that you have an entire network do help you.

Talk enterprise social with Martin and Microsoft at the J. Boye conference

Microsoft is an J. Boye Aarhus 14 conference partner and Martin and his colleagues will therefore be present throughout the event to discuss social enterprise adoption and answer any questions you might have about their products.

Martin is also hosting a roundtable on social collaboration on Conference Day #2.

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