Social media technologies offer unprecedented digital opportunities to share information, communicate and collaborate which are now being translated into a means of internal corporate communication management
Outside the boardroom, social media helps everyone to keep connected. Between Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Instant Messaging services, nobody need ever be left out of the social loop. By adapting social media solutions to business strategies, the challenge of keeping all levels of management in the decision-making processes can be resolved.
A plethora of companies are now developing programmes that embrace the concept of social business collaboration. Among them is 15Five is a collaborative management programme based on a concept that sees employees spending no longer than 15 minutes writing a weekly report, which managers can read and review in five minutes. They then filter the most vital information on to CEOs, keeping everyone in the company informed with minimal effort by utilising one platform with limited input to save time.
IBM has also developed social business software IBM Notes (formerly Lotus Notes) which provides a unified desktop to be used on any computer or handheld device to connect an employee with their business network. Global education company Berlitz has used the software to “breakdown traditional communication boundaries and to accelerate the development of higher quality products.”
Most offices are now well versed in unified communications: uniting hardware, software and service components throughout an enterprise to manage connections and discussions. This is achieved through the use of technologies such as mobile conference calls, emails and data providers. Many businesses have taken a step towards social business collaboration by embracing more incorporative computer technologies such as IM and desktop sharing.
Social collaboration software incorporates wikis, blogs, document sharing, activity streams and RSS feeds to allow a more seamless manner of communicating by creating an ongoing dialogue between colleagues. This can be extremely beneficial to companies with several levels of managements or various departments and offices. In using these technologies, borders both departmental and geographical can be traversed with ease and can keep everyone right up to the C-suite informed of up-to-the-minute adjustments, accomplishments or issues. An additional benefit is that all necessary information is integrated to one dashboard, resulting in less chance of a risk of information overload from various sources.
By digitally sharing information within a business network, colleagues can discuss and edit documents and strategies in a virtual space, which can capture knowledge that may formerly have been withheld on the phone, in emails or meetings where decision rationale can be lost.
Research firm Tech-Clarity conducted a report into using social computing techniques to create corporate social networks, finding: “Social computing techniques offer the ability to create more effective, dynamic, virtual teams.” The report also stated: “While social networking by itself can provide value, companies that develop a strategy to leverage the concepts behind social computing in a product development business context will likely gain greater advantages in product profitability than others.”
Businesses must however, be wary that the freedom and agility to share information can become an issue in itself, because information can be over-shared, so it is important to keep a digital footprint of where the information has come from and where it is going. By utilising programmes specifically designed for social business collaboration, this issue could be controlled. Corporations may also want to look into security restrictions on sensitive information that would jeopardise them should it leave the confines of the business.
Social business collaboration offers the potential to improve internal corporation communication with more advanced programmes offering the security that business information demands. If these are implemented properly, they could provide a long term solution to business communication problems.