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Number One in Social Business

At Enterprise 2.0 this week in Boston, I found a few inspiring moments amid all the activity.  I particularly liked the opening keynote presentations by John Hagel from Deloitte on the first day and Lee Bryant of Headshift on the second day.  The big takeaway…my number one in social business:  it all starts with a problem that needs to be solved…and that you can affect.

Hagel described a simple metrics-based path to finding the right problem to address.  Start with business metrics (e.g., where are you spending the most money or where are costs growing faster than revenues).  Dig into the causal operational metrics (e.g., buses are breaking down and taking a long time to get back into service).  Then dig deeper into the processes that are leading to the operational problems (e.g., finding the right parts).  The discrete problem of speeding information sharing about availability and need for parts is the level where social business can have an impact.  Businesses don’t “become social.” Discrete problems get solved through new processes enabled by social technologies.

Bryant’s focus was on finding the things you can change–drawing actionable insight from the data and activity streams enabled by web 2.o and enterprise 2.0.  He pointed out that insights need to be shared widely so that the right person — the one who can take action — sees the information in a close to real-time process he described as discover, filter, action and evaluate.

Tony Martins, VP Supply Chain at TEVA Pharmaceuticals, added another layer to the role of social business in solving business problems, referencing spontaneous association to form ad hoc networks for solving problems.  By combining skills to solve a problem rather than escalating and following an agreed-upon procedure, his teams were reducing manufacturing cycle time by 40%.  And managers, who had been spending half their time handling surprises, gained valuable work time.

Debra Devoy, from OpenText, added her company’s findings:  that “strength of purpose” is the one factor that enables OpenText to predict the success or failure of an implementation.

Sure, it’s management 101:  start with your objectives.  Why don’t we do it more often?


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