Why is the corporate world going “social”?

  • Why are organizations massively introducing modern social collaboration technologies?

According to professional research, collaboration traditional tools are not that effective: staff spend 50% of their time searching for information, and on average, take 18 minutes to locate each document (Gartner). For an organization with 1,000 people, addressing the related time wasters is tantamount to hiring 213 new employees (IDC and Adobe 2012). On top of these productivity issues, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged (Gallup, 2013).

For all these reasons, it does not make any more sense to invest only in them. Moreover, it is widely recognized that organizations need to adopt the modern social collaboration technologies, which have entered the market since 2000s. Using these tools has led to significant improvements in employee productivity, strategic alignment, talent management and job satisfaction in companies such as BNP Paribas, Orange, Proximus, Deloitte or Adidas, or in government administrations, such as the European Commission or the UK Government.
As the world gets more complex, the corporate sphere is going « social » to simplify processes and increase performance.

  • What are the latest trends and innovations in the field?

Office 365, Confluence Wikis, Google for Work, Slack, Facebook at work, Jive, Chatter, IBM Connections, Zimbra, BlueKiwi… are some of the internally hosted solutions and cloud-based softwares available on the market. These technologies evolve exponentially!

From my own experience, cloud-based softwares have less technical limitations than internally-hosted solutions and are often more cost-efficient and elastic. But to each virtue, its corresponding vice, they are also considered less secure.

Until now, there is not yet a single product that is the best-of-breed with all features that satisfy all needs. Employees will always request the latest technologies available on the market. This is why it is often better to go for an eco-system approach, where functionalities will be integrated as the new needs emerge. The aim of any organization should be to offer a “one stop shop portal”, a real digital workplace for both informal and formal contents.

  • How can we be best equipped to overcome the challenges related to this topic within our organization?

The adoption of a new social collaboration tool often implies a change in the way employees work.  In working environments where collaboration is limited and characterized by silos, successful cross-cutting collaboration requires a cultural change within the entire organization.

Staff will only use the new tools if they are guided towards them with a clear purpose and vision, as well as a clear understanding of the benefits and code of conduct. You will need to count on change agents, who will accompany small and large changes, in a positive way, facilitate conversations, and train employees at every level. In order to energize the collaboration, some supporting strategies and behaviors will be necessary. Obviously, a lot of efforts will be required during the transition period, but the return on investment can be high. 46 percent of workers say their productivity has greatly or somewhat increased because of social media use in the office (IPSOS, 2014).

This post was originally posted in IFE Learning Lab, Management and Innovation blog on 15 June 2015.

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About the art of networking

On average in France, women have 50 people in their networks and men have 72 people. A survey conducted by HEC Management School revealed these figures a few days ago. These are rather small numbers when you think that this activity is essential for the success of any career.

For 59% of executives, networking requires learning and technology. More than one in two believe that maintaining a network requires considerable efforts. And 73% of them do not think they have the time to build up a good network. From my own experience, the art of networking is far from being superficial, it is a quick to learn activity and the cost is low. But the relationships you will have created will be dear throughout your entire life.

These are basic principles of the Art of Networking:

  • Win-win philosophy, networking does not mean “selling”.
  • Good listening and questioning skills.
  • Clear communication, a good understanding of the people you want to meet, proper use of the media and language.
  • Straight profile, you need to be able to tell who you are and what you do in a few words.
  • Promises kept, which means being realistic about what you can offer.
  • Regular contacts, with a quick message from time to time.

Contrary to common beliefs, networking does not mean going out every night. You can include this activity in your daily lives in a simple manner. Digital tools, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Meet-ups for instance make it easy for you to develop your network. Just show a little creativity.

Any job is a combination of needs and solutions. Your network will play an instrumental role in getting things done in this complex world. Develop new bonds outside your traditional circles and you will be able to access ideas that may not be part of your natural groups’ thinking.

Time for a Digital Competence Day?

Well, well, I cannot help but try to imagine a third Digital Competence Day at European Commission. The last edition took place almost a year ago. It was a very particular event, a real bottom-up initiative which started with a call for interest in our internal social platform. I humbly believe it could be really nice to discuss here the content of a new edition. So, these are my initial ideas:

  • 50 contributors from all services in average. A minimum to reflect a real situation and put forward best internal initiatives which highlight a sense for entrepreneurship. “Digital competence” is not about an ideal world, but about things that can be improved now, using technologies at disposal – Digital Transformation is the next step.
  • An online space to manage collaboration and to make sure that contributors adhere to the project, at every step of the way. The idea is to share a new way of achieving great results.
  • A motto “We can be smarter in the way we work together”. We can respect data privacy, security and procedures while being more open and collaborative. A digital organisation would engage its staff in a common future. But not only. This year I would take the concept further and would suggest to engage both staff and stakeholders.
  • Same receipe for success “one room, one purpose”. People wander between three rooms, the first one dedicated to technologies, the second one to use cases and the third one to debates. They create their individualized learning path related to their topics of interest or to nourish their curiosity. Free navigation without constraints among 30 or so outstanding learning activities.
  • A “digital competence library”. A fourth, brand new room, where colleagues would experiment with technologies alone or with mentors.
  • A unique debate between social media vendors. Even more internal successes. And, social collaboration use cases presented by some of the Institution’s external partners.
  • On top of this, insights from experts on how to entertain communities, crowdsource ideas, protect privacy and any other relevant area of interest, as well as insider stories from Digital Transformation players.
  • Even more gamification. In the second edition, colleagues were invited to vote for the digital competence awards. This is always a great way to engage an audience prior to an event and create some emulation.
  • As part of the promotional material, a new video teaser and for the first time, an insightful blog, gathering a collection of testimonials from stakeholders and key achievements after two editions of the digital competence day. A sort of interactive “Digital Times”*, more result-oriented.

#Ecdigiday was run during two years in a row. Have a look at the storify of the first edition. What will be your ideas for a digital competence day?

*”Digital Times” was an old-fashioned print newspaper distributed during the first two editions, whose focus was on mindset shift and new media adoption. The aim was to show the power that comes from combining new and old media.

The end of communication as we know it

Recently, I delivered a speech about Innovative Communication. The purpose was to share with a group of communicators what it takes to be at the same time innovative and efficient in this fast-evolving world. In this post, you will find the content of this presentation.

First of all, let me give you a bit of context. 1. The pace of change is is going to accelerate. Technologies change exponentially. Organizations carry out their digital transformation. New usages and new ways of doing business emerge everyday. 2. We are heading towards a new map of the world, without frontiers, with always new influencers, new behaviours… no limits? Networks and communities grow fast in an often unpredictable way, with limited existence but huge impact on History. 3. Slowly, but surely, more products will cost “one euro”. Expectations are high for services, this is also how brands will make a difference.

In 2015, it is all about shouting very very loud, or:

  • Think twice before developing new communication spaces. With the current proliferation of data, it becomes harder to attract audiences. Be where your audience is has never been so crucial as communicators can spend a lot of energy trying to make people come to their content…
  • …Except for niches ! Smartphone owners aged 25-44 use the greatest number of apps per month, 29 apps, on average. Even those aged 55+ spend more than 21 hours across an average of 22 different apps per month (Source: Nielsen). Shifting from one channel to another for a specific purpose becomes the new habit and is not just a generation thing. In other words, if communicators make a proposal with high-value, people will follow, without too many difficulties.
  • Relationships and authenticity. Communicators need to use their employees as first brand ambassadors. They will have to stop communication means that reflect internal bureaucracy and develop new ones based on values.
  • Personalized communications. People expect from communicators to become community managers and get to a segment of one. On their side, organizations need to understand new behaviours in order to offer services that really respond to needs. Communicators will play an instrumental role in delivering this service.
  • Crowdsourcing and co-creation. Organizations will ask their customers and stakeholders to improve their services with them. Communicators need to learn how to make effective crowdsourcing. They will also communicate more successfully if they promote experience to share.
  • Dynamic and mobile first. 1 billion people will connect to Internet from their mobile phones only, in 2015 (source: Ovum). Mobile drives the shift. “Content is king, Context is King Kong and Distribution is Godzilla”. It becomes even more important to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time. Flash content, very short, personalized, responsive. Native Advertising works well.
  • A more strategic approach to digital in an omni-channel strategy. Communicators are requested to understand the real value brought by Digital and to mix it with other channels to offer the best value. It is time to reintroduce face-to-face which is still the most effective communication channel. We are all phygital animals, people expect the same responsiveness from Digital than face-to-face.
  • Visual Marketing Domination: Posts with visuals receive 94% more page visits than without. 90% of the content shared in 2016 will be videos.
  • A close look at the Learning revolution. Communicators need to understand the new way in which people learn. This provides great opportunities to communicate effectively: MOOC, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Enterprise social media, etc.
  • And content curators. Communicators have become essentially content curators. On top of this, they need to invest more into curation sites: in this world saturated with information, it has become a very powerful tactic to attract new followers. Especially for Institutions.

Obviously, it is not enough to optimize our traditional methods. We really need to reinvent our role, developing new types of innovation and creativity. I believe the communication function is going through a deep digital transformation. Like in any other business, the only way to survive is to be connected and Social Listen. In some organizations, we have become knowledge managers, collaboration specialists and digital transformation experts. That is ransom of success!

I will give a presentation on a related topic at King Baudouin Foundation in Brussels on 13 February.

Behind Digital, People

In my professional experience, I had the chance to meet many amazing people who have inspired me. Now, you too will have the opportunity to get to know them and read them in the “behind digital, people” section. Euan Semple did me the great honour of being the first contributor. Then, Silvia Cambié published a very interesting article about new Social Media trends. Follow this section, many contributors will join us in the coming weeks. You will also be able to find these articles translated in French in the “En français” section of this site.

Phygital animals

“There is one thing which strikes me a lot today: every single day of my life is digital, but there is still a part of me which wants to ignore that fact, and every time I hear or read this word, I do not feel that concerned. “Digital” is not for me.

There are still two worlds for me, the digital world and the physical world – want to know which one I call real?! I live in the physical one. I have been educated to survive in this world. What is the code of conduct behind the screen, anyway?”

Contrary to what most of us like to believe, the real world is no longer the physical one alone, it is a mix of digital and physical. No matter if we are old or young, if we use computers a lot or not, we cannot escape. We have become “phygital” animals.

Today, a similar reflection needs to be carried out for our organizations: let’s talk openly about their digital transformation. The challenge is not to simply enhance traditional methods but to enable new types of innovation and creativity, which will allow them to survive. It is time to take the measure of the change, and the impact all of this can have on us, people.

Everyone is a media outlet

The pace of change is accelerating. People develop new behaviours and use cases every day for the most recent technologies available, starting with:

  • Everyone can become a medium

Anyone can share any feedback or experience, post videos or pictures, directly without intermediates. Organizations will need to find innovative ways to increase the number of times people talk about them positively.

  • Everyone requests relationships

Consumers need to adhere to brand values. This is because they will adhere to values, that they will create a lasting relationship with the brands. Thanks to new technologies available, organizations will finally be able to turn staff, which is their first audience, into ambassadors. Those ambassadors will play an instrumental role in communicating brand values more widely.

  • Shared experience

Since everyone is a media outlet, organizations will need to develop stories and experience to share. Proposals must have a high added-value. A vision and a strategic narrative about the “why” need to be co-written with staff and top-fans. Organizations will learn how to generate buzz from shared experience, and stand out in a saturated information environment (ex: Ice Bucket Challenge).

  • Co-creation

Organizations no longer have control over the messages. From a passive audience, they will develop active promoters and top-fans. Don’t forget that they can be “game-changers”. Audiences will have an important role to play to improve services, especially when products will only cost one euro. Organizations will have to learn how to make effective crowd-sourcing.

  • Consistency

People request coherence online and offline. They are used to move from one application to another. Regardless of the generation, what people want is a consistent and unique experience. Organizations will have to develop a good omni-channel strategy (vs multi-channel).

  • And local stories

Messages need to be translated into local stories. Witness the success of digital radio stations, for example. Strategic partners and stakeholders will be instrumental in making messages more local.

Everyone is a media is definitely a good reason to initiate the digital transformation of your organization. Still many questions for sure, but how many opportunities?