E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

IBM Lotusphere 2009 Highlights – The Business Value of Collaboration Software

Gran Canaria - AyacataContinuing further with some of the highlights from IBM‘s Lotusphere 2009 event that I attended in Orlando, FL, in January 2009, I thought I would cover what, to me, was one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking moments throughout the entire event. Specially since it ties in, quite nicely, with a couple of blog posts I have shared over here recently around the topic of Social Software and figuring out its Return on Investment or ROI.

Those moments were actually a number of conversations that throughout the event I had the pleasure of having with my good friend David Tebutt, who was also at Lotusphere (And who blogged his experiences over at his own blog), where we eventually brainstormed for quite a bit on the whole thing around the subject of proving the business value of social software.

And the result of those great conversations is this wonderful piece he has shared not long ago over at CIO.com (Available as well over at CIO.co.uk) under the heading: "CIO Technology Analysis: The business value of collaboration software". In that article David gets to expand further on how key and paramount Collaboration is becoming within the corporate world, yet it is not as pervasive as you would have expected.

The entire article is filled up with plenty of precious gems that clearly state what are some of the challenges the corporate world has to face in the Knowledge Economy of the 21st century, as well as some of the advantages of embracing and fostering an effective knowledge sharing culture. I am not going to reproduce any of them over here; instead I would certainly encourage you all to go and read through it, specially if you are also interested in finding out how IBM is embracing these new knowledge sharing and collaboration tools within the social software space to help deliver plenty of value add that surely is benefiting the entire enterprise (Highly recommended if you want to catch up with some measurements on IBM’s internal use of social computing tools).

However, what’s rather interesting from the article itself, including those insightful gems, is another part of the conversations we had where over a couple of beers here and there, we came up with a good number of the most relevant value-related benefits. And here you have got them:

  1. "Find: people, places, information – quickly by using profiles, and other people’s tags and bookmarks as accelerants.
  2. Validate: people especially. What have they posted? What do others make of them? You could arrive at a shortlist for a project team much more quickly and at greatly reduced cost than before.
  3. Direct dialogue: with customers (and suppliers), internal and external. This eliminates filtering and politics and leads to more rapid understanding. It could mean fixing things that have gone wrong or identifying new product and service opportunities.
  4. Capture information: from people as they’re working or reviewing online material. This could prove especially valuable if faced with staff churn or retirements.
  5. Connections: spread internal innovation widely and rapidly – bad ideas don’t get traction but good ones do.
  6. Communities: increase staff morale and retention through a sense of belonging and recognition."

Some of these various benefits, we both fully realised, may not be easy to quantify, nor qualify, like David mentioned, but then again we may not need to altogether, as long as organisations have "an open, collaborative and trusting culture. Without that, it can never work. But with it, social software can transform the way we collaborate and share information."

Yes, Sir! I couldn’t have agreed more with that final statement from David! Now, the remaining challenge is … is your business culturally ready? If you are not sure just yet how or what to answer, allow me to share with you another superb article, this time around published by Matthew Hodgson (At the AppGap), under the title "The ROI of being social at work" and which, I am sure, would prove to be rather helpful in laying out the answer(s) for us all.

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