A social environment is another regular way of interacting and working, just as much as with the telephone or in person in the office building. Forming working relationships between employees is a key factor in building a healthy, engaged workforce. But to really deliver business value to the organization, we should not look at it in terms of just “building a community,” but in terms Of “gathering customer feedback through a community to improve a product line.
Much Of the effectiveness of social networking comes from the history of knowledge and relationships that each participant brings. You need to help 24 NETWORK 2011 employees look at their relationships and knowledge as personal assets Of value that they can apply to improving how they work with others. People need to understand that they have these relationship and trust assets that are usually unique to them. The real value emerges when these assets are put into play to support the company’s goals. In Other words, you need to encourage people to share and contribute.
Let’s take an example Of social business in the agricultural sector. A customer in China asked their salesperson about a fungal infection. The salesperson took photos of the infection and sent it to their online community of researchers. One researcher, in Brazil, already had a solution for it. The product came from India, so they needed a way to get it from India to China. The salesperson looked up their social network a second time to find a logistics expert. In the end the salesperson called a conference with the researcher, the logistics expert and the customer to figure out how they could cost-effectively deliver the right product to the right location in China. Most of the interactions here wouldn’t have been possible without the discoverability that emerges out of social networks. This result only happens once you have a mature and active online network, also as well-defined profiles that employees can use to locate one another. At minimum, it’s a pleasant capability for workers to engage each other. And as it matures, the social networks provides the raw business infrastructure that can deliver new solutions to customers as they need it.