SAS Uses Social Collaboration To Keep Employees Connected And Engaged

TJ Keitt

My colleague Ted Schadler and I published several case studies in our recent report, "The Road To Social Business Transformation Starts With A Burning Platform." What follows is one of those stories -- SAS's social collaboration platform, The Hub, designed to capture conversations that were leaking out into the public social sphere as employees attempted to share information. Here's the story:

SAS is a company noted for its focus on its people — it has appeared in every one of Fortune's lists of "100 Best Companies to Work For" during the list's 15-year history. And it's no wonder: SAS's perks include intramural sports leagues and a subsidized healthcare center. SAS's commitment to its people, though, goes beyond their health and well-being. The Cary, N.C., software vendor also wants to ensure that its people have tools that keep them connected and engaged, allowing them to stay productive and informed.

In 2009, this desire manifested itself in Senior Director of Internal Communications Karen Lee's push for creating a new platform for the corporate intranet. IT Senior Director Tom Sherrod and his team had worked closely with Karen and her team to roll out an intranet with many embedded tools, such as blogs and wikis. But Karen and company felt something was missing — they wanted a "more social intranet" that provided more information about people, such as pictures.

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Symantec Engages Customers And Prospects Through A Social Media Command Center

TJ Keitt

My colleague Ted Schadler and I published several case studies in our recent report, "The Road To Social Business Transformation Starts With A Burning Platform." What follows is one of those stories -- Symantec's creation and roll-out of a social media initiative designed to funnel data from the social media sphere into the business to improve responsiveness to market trends. Here's the story:

Tristan Bishop, director of digital strategy at Symantec, knew something very important: If you listen to your customers, you can create a great experience that leads to customer loyalty. Of course, this knowledge was useless unless he could find a way to get the issues customers raised to the group within Symantec that could take appropriate action. So, in June 2011, Tristan worked with his manager, David Sward, senior director of user experience, to propose a plan to Symantec executives for exploring ways to uncover areas for customer experience improvements in social media. Symantec subsequently funded the project.

Around the time that Tristan was experimenting with social listening technology, Ellen Hayes, group manager, corporate communications and social strategy, and the social media team were working on a social listening initiative of their own for brand reputation management and public relations purposes. When they learned of what Tristan was doing, an idea emerged — they should marry their efforts to Tristan's.

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If You're Not Helping Lay The Foundation For A Social Business, You Need To Start Now

TJ Keitt

The movement of information is key to today's global economy. Companies like General Electric send their design concepts to countries like India, allowing developers there to localize products to suit the domestic market. Firms like Intercontinental Hotel Group create customer communities to gather input from customers to fashion new services. Businesses like handheld device manufacturer Psion (recently acquired by Motorola) build social platforms to connect their partners to their customers in order to formulate new solutions. And prospective customers tap into social media like Facebook and Twitter to gather information and express ideas, which we see has the power to alter the course of companies as well as countries. In this environment, a successful company's competitive advantage comes in part from its ability to grow an information advantage -- the ability to share, process, and act upon information more rapidly than the competition.

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Is Social Software Relevant To Information Workers?

TJ Keitt

I'm not saying anything shocking when I say enterprise social software, has been a hot topic over the last five years. The set of technologies designed to flatten corporations have spawned dedicated blogs, press, and conferences. And our surveys of content and collaboration professionals show businesses are embracing these technologies: 42% of firms are making new investments in Enterprise 2.0 software, and 46% are investing in team workspaces (on which social technologies often ride into the enterprise). So, obviously we're over the hump and well into this new social era of business, right? Well...not so fast.

I'll go out on a limb here and say that businesses are not more social - at least, not in the broad-based fashion people envisioned when we first started talking about Enterprise 2.0 in the heady days of the mid-2000s. How could it be? According to our recent survey of 4,985 US information workers, 28% of the workforce uses a social technology. While you may be thinking to yourself this is a good start, allow me a moment to point out some key differences between Enterprise 2.0 users and the rest of the workforce:

  • They're your highest paid employees. Over half of this group earns more than $60k a year, compared to just 36% of non-users.
  • They're the most educated members of the workforce. Sixty-five percent of this group has completed at least a 4 year college degree compared to 55% of the rest of the workforce.
  • They're the leaders in your office. It's not surprising to see 49% of this group are managers are executives given management's enthusiasm about social technologies. Just 31% of non-users are in similar positions.
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Social technologies: Standalone Applications Or Features?

TJ Keitt

During CScape at Cisco Live, one of the more interesting conversations I had started with a simple question: Is social software (and collaboration software in general) a set of standalone applications or features of other business applications? This sprang from a discussion on the future of the collaboration technology business and really speaks to a couple of important developments in the market:

 

1) Collaboration platform vendors incorporating social features into their offerings. Anyone who's followed my research and my blog posts knows this story: Cisco, IBM, Microsoft and Novell (amongst others) have released collaboration tools that include robust Web 2.0 technologies such as social networks, tag clouds and blogs. This has led to a maturing of the messaging of pure-play vendors - going from "we have the best social software" to "this is how we solve a specific business problem."

2) Business applications that power business processes are becoming social. Another recurring theme in my research is corporate interest in (and fear of not having) enterprise 2.0 technology has led business application vendors to jump into the market. As these vendors do so, they are seeking out tools to help them make their applications social. The inclusion of business application vendors, though, has put more pressure on the pure-play vendors to find a niche that will allow them to compete with vendors that have sure footholds in businesses.

 

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