Breaking down the walls of the Social Enterprise

At its sixth year, the Enterprise 2.0 Summit is among the longest living conferences in Europe on social collaboration and digital transformation initiatives. I’ve seen its evolution through Frankfurt and more recently Paris by participating at all of its editions with this last one dedicated to getting the social enterprise ready.

Starting from the results of the recent Social Collaboration Survey done with Stefano Besana, I’ve discussed the maturity of the Social Enterprise market with its significant progress and also its huge stumbling blocks in order to stimulate a data driven reflection on how to go from pilot projects to strategic transformation programs.

If you want the long version, here it is the video of my speech together with the accompanying slides:

And even more, after it, you may want to listen to the vibrant discussion it generated between me and the well-known thinkers, thought-leaders and practitioners below:

  • Luis Suarez – formerly Social Computing evangelist, IBM Software group
  • Dr. Chee Chin Liew – Enterprise Community Manager, BASF SE
  • David Terrar – Founder & CXO, Agile Elephant
  • Simon Levene – Senior Strategy Consultant, Jive Software

For those having only a few of minutes left, these are some key points I’ve shared during the session:

  • Social enterprise is getting more important. 3/4 of the market will consider it strategic in 3 years
  • Adoption on the contrary has a long way to go, stuck at 10-30% of the workforce for the majority of our sample
  • To make it strategic, cultural and value perception have to be addressed by 60% of the laggards, while leaders are still struggling with the ROI
  • Organizations heading the pack have hit the target by gaining top management buy-in, mixing bottom-up and top-down roll-out strategies, devoting enough community management resources, spending more than 100K Euros /year, measuring results in 91% of the cases and, finally, bridging internal and external engagement initiatives

The panel has been particularly busy in discussing the direction Social Enterprise should follow (if mostly top-down or bottom-up) and how much success we have seen at this point. What I took out from it, is that even experienced practitioners still somewhat disagree on best practices and even about the need of best practices. While the numbers seem to tell quite a clear story of what to do and what not to do, it is then not really surprising how managers are still not aware or are not yet following the most effective route to success.

Among those of us seeing social collaboration as the transformational path towards the future of the work, some prefer to be organizational terrorists arming employees to gain control from the ground-up, others consider themselves mostly as mediators between managers and the ranks. In any case, to let enterprise social software and internal communities play a strategic role in tomorrow’s businesses, something more will be needed. Much more than what has been done until today.

It is time to stop focusing on technology features and to start advancing organizational models, constructs and enablers. It is time to definitely replace obsolete management paradigms and bring back humanity inside the board room. It is time to stop adapting social enterprise initiatives to the constraints imposed by hierarchies, political turfs, disengaged employees and to start adapting both the culture and power dynamics in organizations to a profoundly different kind of future.

A long and not so clear road lies ahead. Nonetheless a route dramatically worth being covered.

Emanuele Quintarelli

Social media enthusiast and Social Enterprise Leader in EY. Research, reports and reflections about the introduction of web 2.0 inside the enterprise.

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