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My Interview for Salesforce on Collaboration

Posted by on January 9, 2012

Salesforce has been doing some interesting work around collaboration in the enterprise and towards the end of 2011 I was asked to participate in their expert series.  I was asked all sorts of questions around collaboration some of which can be seen below, for the full interview which also includes visuals, visit Salesforce.

How would you define social collaboration? What are the benefits?

I’m actually not sure how I would define “social” collaboration as all collaboration is inherently social. Can you have non-social collaboration? If what we are referring to is the use of new tools to collaborate, something I prefer to call “emergent collaboration” (but is becoming quite synonymous with just “workplace collaboration”) then I would define it as, “the use of new collaborative tools (typically software) and strategies to solve internal business problems” (assuming we are just referring to employee collaboration).

The benefits to using these new types of tools are vast and some of them include:

  • Talent retention and acquisition since employees want to work at innovative and relevant companies.
  • Alignment across the organization as employees are able to work on a central platform which keeps every one on the same page and provides context around work.
  • Improved productivity as employees are able to spend more time actually working instead of finding and searching for information they need to get work done.
  • Ability to share and transfer knowledge
  • Ability to engage employees and help them feel more connected to the company and the work that they do
  • And many others

If you had to pick one metric to measure the success of emergent collaboration what would it be?

Employee engagement or employee morale. By engagement I mean how connected, satisfied, and fulfilled employees feel at work. How likely are they to recommend working at their company to friends, family members, and peers?

You’ve worked with some huge companies but also smaller businesses. How dos the approach to social collaboration differ for smaller companies? Can small businesses do the same thing as the big boys or is there a different approach?

The approaches are not that different but the tactics are. Both small and large organizations need to think of the same strategic components but there are some differences. For example a larger company is going to have much more work required on the governance and IT support side of things whereas smaller organizations may be a bit less stringent in these areas. A large organization might have a very clear and defined role and ownership around collaboration whereas a smaller organization might not.

Yes, small companies can do the same things that larger ones can. Chess is small company and we leverage many of the collaborative tools that we recommend to clients. The business value for us has been great. We see many of the same benefits that our larger clients see. Smaller companies also have the benefit of being more agile and quick to move.

You talk about the “value paradox” in social collaboration.  What does it mean and how do businesses crack it?

The “value paradox” is the concept of organizations wanting and expecting to see business value from emergent collaboration but not doing what is required to see it. For example, we found that 60% of organizations are not defining any type of KPIs and for the small percentage that are (25%, the rest said they don’t know), less than half are actually following up on those KPIs and measuring regularly. So in this scenario of course organizations aren’t going to see business value because they don’t define KPIs and those that don’t define them never actually continuously measure them. Many companies are flying blind and then they wonder why they aren’t seeing business value!

Read the full interview here.