Building a social collaborative culture, part two

Here is the second part of Sonsoles Lumbreras‘ article on the Social Workplace Conference last week. If you missed the first part, you can read it and the background here. Over to you Sonsoles…

Social collaboration and knowledge sharing at Accenture
Priya Banati, Collaboration Strategy Lead for Accenture UK, explained how they encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration in the workplace.

Accenture moved from a reactive to a proactive way of communication, boosting knowledge sharing with the aim of bringing the best to their customers, explained Banati.  They encourage the use of social collaboration tools such as blogs, microblogs, videos, allowing their employees to ask questions to other peers around the world or share their knowledge.

Valuing participation
When doing this, Banati underlined that it has been fundamental to promote a collective stewardship, having a group of people to run these tools and encouraging others to use them. At Accenture, main contributors are also recognised to show that the company really values employees’ participation. However, according to Banati, you need to accept that not everybody will be actively engaged, so realistic expectations should be set.

Another important aspect for them when setting-up these tools was to enable senior managers to communicate to employees why their use was fundamental. Banati also stressed the idea repeated several times during the conference: “To measure the success of these new tools we shouldn’t look at the return on investment but the return on involvement”. 

Why IT and social collaboration projects fail
Alan Pelz-Sharpe, principal analyst at ECM & Enterprise research, was in charge of giving some realistic reasons as to why social collaboration projects fail. According to Pelz-Sharpe, 68 per cent of IT projects fail or fall short expectations.

He said the main reasons for IT projects to fail are:

  • Failure to address resistance to change
  • Choosing the wrong IT product for your business: the market leader may not necessarily be the right product
  • The bigger the project the less likely it is to succeed
  • Lack of strategy when starting the project
  • Failure to measure resources needed: according to Pelz-Sharpe, many people only budget for the software, but they forget about people training and software configuration, for example.
  • Lack of employees’ training and education about the IT project

The benefits of usability testing
Rita Chambers, e-Communications Manager at Sodexo UK, talked about its intranet launch and how they made changes to improve its usability.

Chambers explained how its former intranet was huge and difficult to use and to find anything, so their aim was to make it user-friendly, with an intuitive navigation and provide social collaboration tools. When implementing the new intranet, Sodexo ran usability tests among their employees, to find out what it could be improved on the site.

On cloud nine
One of the main improvements made after the testing was the creation of a good search engine. The new intranet also included a quick poll, a commenting tool and an employee newsfeed. According to Chambers, it was proved that after including some improvements employees were increasing their use of the intranet tools.

She also highlighted the importance of creating a social workplace at Sodexo to generate a positive performance for the company through employees’ collaboration and engagement. At this moment, Sodexo is piloting a social platform on Jive, called Cloud 9 that is allowing knowledge sharing within the organisation. Chambers pointed out that this platform is the solution for networking, collaborating and exchanging best practice for better performance: “A social workplace means providing a professional environment that enables our employees to become social individuals.

Seven habits of an open and socially collaborative business
Under this title, a social panel (pictured) was run with the participation of Leon Benjamin, Internal Collaboration Manager at Virgin Media; Del Green, Group Internal Communications Manager at Bupa, and Justin Hunt, founder of

Following their discussion, their main habits to achieve an open and socially collaborative culture are:

  • Take a risk and be prepared to fail when implementing social tools
  • Give people permission to use the social tools to have conversations
  • Educate and train employees about how to use these new tools and what they are for
  • Don’t add more tools unless they are totally necessary or you remove another ones
  • Find your ‘superconnectors’ within the organisation to encourage others to use these tools
  • Get senior leaders on board encouraging them to use the social collaborative tools

What did you think of the conference? Do you agree with the points raised by the speakers? For more information about the Social Workplace conference, check out its blog or on Twitter @SWConf.

Post author: Sonsoles Lumbreras.

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