So far at Forrester's Content and Collaboration Forum we’ve learned that content and engagement are key and that collaboration strategies can help employees be more productive. But what about your enterprise social strategy?

Mapping Your Course, Implementing a Strategy

During an "Action Session", Rob Koplowitz, Vice President and Principal analyst at Forrester helped us Charter an Enterprise Social Strategy. But let’s recap. Why do we need one to begin with? Because ideally we want to enable person to person communications in a more compelling way. Right?

In order for a strategy to work, answer these honestly:

  • Do you really think that great ideas can come from anyone in the common?
  • If so, are you willing to act on it?

If you really mean it and are willing to harness those ideas, let’s continue.

When people think social strategy, they think Web 2.0 technologies. Forrester uses this definition, with emphasis on the second part.

a set of technologies and applications that enable efficient interaction among people, content, and data in support of collectively fostering new business technology offerings and social structures.

According to Forrester research, nearly half of firms (n=921) are adopting web 2.0. for business purposes. But what are they doing with it?

  • Capturing information is key: ~10,000 workers retire every day, what do they know? -- 52%
  • Fostering collaboration within a company: help people share information without fear -- 44%
  • Fosering innovation: supporting employees to experiment, try new things, solve problems -- 29%

Now that we know there’s interest, let’s map out a strategy:

Stage 1: Start small

No need to roll out a big pilot. Some may even say that you should "do" rather than "plan" anyway, so get the buy in you need, even if it's just a small group. Also, many don't understand how web 2.0 technologies provide value within a company. Take the time to explain their relevance and impact once implemented.

Stage 2: Define success metrics

If you don't know what success looks like, you can't measure it. Define your metrics before you start and ensure that everyone understands. Grow applications that will reach the most users first. Waiting is the hardest part, but can bring the most insight. Also use this time to put policies into place so that you know how to react.

Stage 3: Treat social like a true social enterprise asset

Deploy critical applications on a broad scale and integrate with core applications and processes. Unless you treat your enterprise social efforts as a real business venture, it won't work. Everyone needs to be on board and understand that its success is as important as any other.

Exercise Your Strategy

Forrester lead our group through some exercises to help us plot our course, first defining what our business and IT goals are, then defining what benefits social technologies might bring. From there we considered the needs and concerns of stakeholders and how you can gain their support. Then we tackled issues of adoption and integration. For many of the big enterprises represented in the room, it was good to share stories and see how far they had come or need to go.

Once you've acted out your strategy, now it's time to choose a product and a vendor. There are many out there, but they may not all be the right fit or offer capabilities appropriate for the social technologies you outlined above. (readEnterprise 2.0: All Social Software is Not Created Equal.)

In the end, it's not the vendor nor social technology you adopt, it's the strategy that you've developed to help guide users and stakeholders in proving its business value.