Saturday, September 4, 2010

Adoption Challenges for Enterprise Social Platforms

Published on Dataquest
Enterprise 2.0 technologies are inexpensive and attractive; lead to meaningful communication across teams and create contextual knowledge, help improve innovative capabilities, and facilitate solving of critical business problems collectively. Indeed, there is a clear evidence that Enterprise 2.0 technologies are facing protectionist barriers from the companies because of the fear of productivity losses and exposure of critical information. But, how is it that these technologies are not as successful even in companies which consider the new technology as a boon and are trying to leverage them? A closer analysis would reveal that this failure is not due to the technology itself, but because of various adoption challenges that are left unaddressed. In fact, it is the poor adoption that leads to less than desirable impact of an enterprise social platform and may lead to eventual fizzling out of the initiative.

Lack of Motivation

Clearly, a large chunk of users feel that when it comes to just-in-time knowledge that matters, it is not always available within and they need to connect with people outside the company as well. In many places, we observe that this connect is not established and solutions that allow users to tap the knowledge in external network without compromising companys information security concerns are not provided. Not only this, the lack of purpose building and not doing enough to connect by the use of social media technology with proper efforts into the advancement of peoples careers also affect the success of such initiatives.
The Solution Designing of TechnologyTechnology and tools implemented are often low on reliability and not steady which restrict their use. There is also a lack of alignment of these platforms with the work habits of employees. In the wake of a host of company websites offering a variety of services, it remains difficult for users to refer to and use all of them in combination with social media platforms. As enough focus is not attributed in putting together these technologies as a comprehensive solution, these are not easy to understand and use. Also, since sufficient thought is not given to making it an engaging solution, the usage often drops.

Work LinkagesThe intended users already feel the deluge of information and cant see how yet another tool will help them. They end up looking at these initiatives as yet another layer of information management, which it is clearly not. By the same token, they end up considering its output as meaningless interactions and content, and see it as an additional work when they already have so much to accomplish in their daily work routine. They sense a lack of time to contribute and moderate the generation of knowledge content and may end up considering it as an effort-intensive activity. The real content around business issues is generated when all stakeholders are part of the whole and when customers and extended partners are also included in this exercise. For various misguided reasons, some companies often end up not extending the use of social media to clients and partner networks in tandem with its workforce. This reduces the impact.
Driving the ChangeSince these technologies are new and rather drastic, there is a need for volunteers and champions to drive it. However, in many places, there is a lack of dedicated resources to drive it. This lack of resources often proves detrimental to its adoption while the blame is attributed to the technology. If the needed drive is missing, especially during the initial phases of the implementation, sufficient content and interaction will not get generated.
The ProcessAs people have seen and experienced these solutions to be more democratic in the open web world, they find it difficult and constraining when restrictions are applied unintelligently. This could also be attributed to the lack of harmony between these solutions and processes within the companies. There is enough scope for aligning the social media usage and interaction with the processes in a company, but this aspect is too often ignored rendering people to notice this disconnect which leads to a sense of disillusionment.
Senior Management Sponsorship and MandateThe mandate from management, including practical sponsorship from the senior management is a critical success factor for any enterprise-wide solution that is offered as a change from the legacy system. But, because of the social nature of Enterprise 2.0 solutions, any lack of senior management sponsorship becomes much more apparent and negatively affects the overall adoption. Consider a situation where supervisors in various groups neither consciously use these tools nor push their subordinates to use nor pull them into this initiative. This has a rather negative impact on people at large who are actually critical of making it a success. They become rather disoriented because of the lack of perceived willingness of their immediate supervisors.
These are some of the key adoption challenges that companies have to keep in mind and address for the successful adoption of Enterprise 2.0 technologies.

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