Engaged Employees Expect IT Leaders To Understand Their Needs

My colleague Simon Yates and I have spent a good bit of time recently discussing the role of IT in creating engaging experiences for employees. We've proposed that IT leaders concern themselves with helping business leaders convert that engagement into productive actions that achieve positive business outcomes, like good customer experiences and employees advocating for the company. But what does this mean for IT leaders in practice? Well, let's look at a group of employees who are currently creating the types of outcomes businesses seek: those willing to advocate for their business as a place to work and as a place to do business. According to our Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, Q4 2012, around two-thirds of this group feel IT understands and meets their needs (see figure below).

These positive attitudes toward the IT department's performance stand in stark contrast to the views of employees who aren't achieving these outcomes. For example, while 65% of employee advocates are satisfied with the service they receive from the IT department, just 27% of employees not fully advocating for the company share a similar opinion. So what creates this chasm in opinion? We find clues when we look at some of the attitudes employee advocates have about what their organizations allow them to do:

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The CIO Is The Facilitator Of Engaging Employee Experiences

Employee engagement is a hot topic in many C-suites today. There's a growing body of research that says engaged employees are productive employees, contributing positively to the bottom line. Forrester's own workforce research shows those who feel supported by managers, respected for their efforts, and encouraged to be creative are more inclined to recommend the company as a workplace or a vendor. So, we see a debate within the upper echelons of organizations on how best to create engaging workforce experiences which give an employee's contributions meaning, provide the flexibility they require to be successful, and continuously develop the skills they need to serve customers. It's critical that the CIO is at the table during these conversations. Why? Regardless of the talent retention and management strategy, technology will be necessary to help unlock the potential within the workforce.

The CIO at a large software vendor with a reputation for great employee engagement said it best: "Technology is expected, but [business leaders] do not think about how it enables people." Technology is an ambient part of the workspace. Businesses outfit their workforces with a range of gadgets and give them access to numerous systems which facilitate interactions, manage orders, track projects, store data, and more. Of course, deficiencies in these corporate toolkits lead employees to find and embrace things like iPhones, Galaxy Tabs, Dropbox, and Evernote on their own. But has anyone given serious consideration to how these disparate tools come together to help engage employees so they can properly support the customer?

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Choosing Between Microsoft Office 365 And Google Apps Hinges On Your Belief In The Vendor's Vision

Over the last couple of years, I've fielded a number of inquiries from Forrester clients who are trying to decide whether their company should move their email and other collaboration workloads into the cloud via Google Apps for Business or Microsoft Office 365. This conversation has gained so much momentum that I recently did a podcast with my colleague Mike Gualtieri on the subject, will host a teleconference covering the topic on February 26, and will soon publish a report detailing answers to five of the common questions that we get about online collaboration and productivity suites (which include Office 365, Google Apps, and IBM SmartCloud for Social Business). Fueling this extended conversation are business and IT leaders' deliberations over one question: Is there a right or wrong in selecting one vendor's offering over the other? I'll use a typical analyst hedge to answer: It depends.

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SAS Uses Social Collaboration To Keep Employees Connected And Engaged

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

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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Presenting Four Cases That Can Help You Transform Your Organization Into A Social And Collaborative Business

My colleague Ted Schadler and I recently completed a six month investigation into social business and collaborative transformation. As the title of the report -- The Road To Social Business Starts With A Burning Platform -- suggests, these complex workforce programs work when there is a compelling motivation to change behaviors among employees, business sponsors, andRead more

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

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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Online Collaboration Tools Address A New Set Of Business Challenges, But Are They Ready For Your Business?

Today, we published our first Forrester Wave™ on the cloud strategies of online collaboration software vendors, evaluating how eight vendors -- Box, Cisco Systems, Citrix Online, Google, IBM, Microsoft, salesforce.com, and Yammer -- are constructing collaboration services. Unlike a traditional Forrester Wave, this assessment was designed to look at how these vendors are addressing the lingering questions many IT leaders have about online collaboration technology:

  • Is it ready for the prime-time enterprise spotlight?
  • Will it keep me secure and compliant?
  • Does it fit into my business environment?
  • Is the vendor in the online business for the long haul?
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Yes, Gamification Can Help Your Business Internally

Happy New Year, everyone. As I customarily do, I'm looking back on 2011 with an eye toward emerging trends that bear watching. In the latter half of last year, I started to receive a lot of questions from content & collaboration professionals and journalists regarding gamification. The fuel for this undoubtedly comes from businesses' burgeoning love affair with gaming dynamics in consumer web marketing efforts (chronicled by Forrester here, here, here, and here). The questions I get, though, are from individuals looking to understand if gamification has business uses outside of enticing consumers to engage more deeply with the company.

As an analyst who has covered serious gaming (the use of games and gaming dynamics to teach, change attitudes and behaviors, and inspire action) for five years, these inquiries bring a smile to my face. As you may guess, my answer to these interested parties is, "Of course you can use gamification to enhance other processes in your business." My confidence in gamification's utility to internal business processes comes from the fact that, at its core, this is an old idea in business. You might have just said "huh?" Permit me a moment to explain.

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Oracle Makes Their Play For Social Enabled Business Processes

On Wednesday afternoon, Oracle's Larry Ellison unveiled the Oracle Social Network. The fact that he did so on the same stage Marc Benioff used in San Francisco's Moscone Center to announce Salesforce Chatter's centricity to the "social enterprise" won't go unnoticed, and not simply for all of the not-so-subtle shots Mr. Ellison took at his former colleague's outfit. For content & collaboration professionals, the thing to note about these dual announcements is they mark, along with IBM's "social business" strategy, an attempt by vendors to make social software relevant to the entire workforce by tying them into specific business processes.

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