social business, Digital Workplace: Effective Social Business Tool Rollout

It’s a 24/7 year-round business world today. Really, was it ever not that way?

Now, though, in the digitized world, organizations that use social business tools effectively thrive, according to Luis Suarez, lead social business enabler in the Global CIO Office at IBM. talked to Suarez for the second of our three-part series on the Remote Work World. Yesterday, we discussed trust, setting goals and creating boundaries for effective environments.

Social Tools – Way of Life Now

Suarez has 15 years of experience on knowledge management, collaboration, learning, online communities and social networking for business. He told us he has been living for the past four years in a corporate world “without email challenging the status quo of how knowledge workers collaborate and share their knowledge by promoting openness, transparency, trust, sustainable growth, engagement, connectedness and overall smart work.”

(We do realize the argument for email in a business environment is still very much on the table.)

As for working in the office, Suarez said the benefits are clear: being under the same roof for brainstorming, real time collaboration, knowledge sharing and ideation among others.

However, he added, businesses must realize how critical remote collaboration through digital, social tools has become in terms of getting work done — 24/7 year-round.

“It's not only about flexibility, co-sharing of responsibility or owning more of your work as a knowledge worker for smarter decision making,” Suarez said. “It's more about the opportunity for virtual teams to excel based on the results and outcomes they produce rather than measuring those same results by their sheer physical presence.”

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Managers and knowledge workers must, Suarez said, recognize in the virtual environment the “critical role of social business tools to get the job done, regardless of where your talent is in the world.”

The International Data Corporation (IDC) published a survey earlier this year, “IDC’s Social Business Survey, 2013: Driving Influence and Relevance with Social Solutions.” It stressed companies are starting to capture the “influence and relevance” in new business and communication channels.

Companies don’t, however, spend enough time rationalizing the impact of social business solutions from a process standpoint before deploying other solutions. New deployments, the report stated, must be tempered with adherence to a company-wide social business vision.

“The business priority was raising awareness, and that is congruent with business targeting ongoing conversations with online communities,” Vanessa Thompson, research manager for the IDC on enterprise social networks and collaborative technologies, told

The conversation has shifted, Thompson added, from contained conversations internally and external listening to trying to understand how all the interactions inside and outside the business tie to business information and data to make better decisions.

“The full benefits of an enterprise social network are gained from deployment across an entire organization — with active adoption — so that the tool acts as a 'backbone' of communication,” Thompson told CMSWire. “If the tool operates in only specific departments then that perpetuates information and communication silos.”

Management Support Critical

Buying a tool is one thing. But does your company have a culture of collaboration to begin with? Do managers encourage healthy dialogue with the digitized workforce?

“If a company has a collaborative culture initially and a tool is rolled out then that is a great start because in general users are incented to collaborate in the first place,” Thompson said. “Executive management support for rollout of an enterprise social network is essential if the tool is to have any impact on culture at all. If the enterprise social network is adopted in a grass roots manner, then both the culture and organizational culture need to support the rollout and use of a tool. If the org structure is very siloed and segmented, then collaboration across business units is difficult.”

Thompson advised against a “widespread adoption” and “use of the tool in the context of other applications and processes.”

That, she said, is generally where the tools fail to be as effective as they can.

“Users should have the ability to intelligently filter information in order to make ad hoc decisions, in essence, bringing context to a user rather than them having to search for it,” Thompson said.

Bottom Line: Getting Work Done

Ultimately, working from the office is no longer as critical as it once was, IBM’s Suarez said. It’s one more option in a wide range of valid options, including working remotely.

Through digital technologies, remote working can be an effective, refreshing and smarter method of getting your work done. Empowered, responsible and disciplined employees take ownership for what they do -- and simply get the job done.

“Which is what really matters,” Suarez said, “at the end of the day.”

(Title image courtesy of spotmatik (Shutterstock).)