IT Could Benefit from Being More Social

Enterprise 2.0 social software could provide a more social way to communicate and collaborate with colleagues.

It’s Friday and that’s kind of a social day where you go out with friends after work or look forward to a weekend of social activities, and that got me thinking that perhaps it’s time for IT to be a bit more social too. Enterprise 2.0 social software could help.

In fact, Mike Vizard has a post this week on IT Edge about a new social software package designed specifically for IT pros. That’s fine as far as it goes, if you all you wanted to do was communicate and collaborate with your fellow IT pros, but what about when you want to communicate with folks outside the department.

There are actually plenty of tools available to help you do that. Just this week, for example, Jive released a product called Jive Anywhere, a browser plug-in that embeds Jive social functionality right into the browser, so you can use it to interact with live social sites on the Internet such as Facebook or LinkedIn or within browser-based apps such as your CRM or ERP tools.

This provides a simple way for you as an IT pro to share information with your colleagues, but it also provides a way to interact simply and easily with other employees in the company without providing a ton of intervention from you to make it happen.

There are other ways social software can help you as an IT pro too because users can help one another in a social system instead of calling IT for every little problem they encounter. If someone knows a work-around for a Word numbering problem, he or she can share it with the world if someone asks.

AIIM recently did a study, which was lead by Andrew McAfee, the MIT professor who coined the term Enterprise 2.0 to describe bringing social tools into the enterprise. (You can download the three PDF reports for free.). These reports do a good job of articulating when social works and when it doesn’t (because it’s not a panacea), but one area where it was particularly well suited was Enterprise Q&A.

Quoting the report, “We learned in our research that in many organizations social business technologies are used both to broadcast questions, and to broadcast updates and knowledge permanently and broadly throughout the organization.”

This has broad implications across the company in terms of easing information sharing and the business impact that can have. John Hagel from Deloitte speaking at last year’s Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston told a story of a big city bus department that put Enterprise 2.0 micro-blogging tools to work to help bus maintenance garage managers share information about parts. It provided a way to find parts that was much more efficient than email or phone, and had the positive business result of reducing bus downtime and getting the busses back out on the street faster.

Socializing the enterprise has all kinds of great benefits. It can help you as IT pros communicate better with one another and with others across the organization in a much more natural fashion than email, a much more efficient manner than face to face meetings and much quicker than the phone because it’s one to many communication.

And it has the added benefit of accumulating knowledge and providing business benefits you might not have considered.

Photo by  Rob Enslin on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

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