It’s been a really interesting year. It’s been the first full calendar year for our business, Betterworking. It’s also been the year that’s definitely confirmed we’re in the right business so I thought I’d summarise how I see what’s been going on, and list some useful resources to help you get ready for a great 2015.
Much has moved forward this year as business leaders have started to get to grips with ‘working like a network’, working out loud (#WOL) and generally understanding the impact and opportunities of the web inside their firewalls.
Some things are moving faster than others, of course. Last week Nina Pattinson and I delivered a PR Academy session on ‘Enterprise Social Networks’ for the CIPR. Listening to the blockers and barriers to progress listed by the excellent students there, it would be easy to think little had really changed. Many of the usual challenges were cited: security, perceived time wasting, need for ROI proof, lack of leadership buy-in, misaligned people and tech roadmaps, insufficient community management resource, and freemium products that have come in unofficially gaining some initial interest but then losing traction.
But bigger picture stuff has definitely changed this year which will help everyone’s efforts. There has been a noticeable convergence: whether we’re talking tech platforms; whether we’re talking about integrated internal communications and collaboration, or whether we’re talking about actual people (representing departments) getting around the same table to discuss how they’re going to crack new ways of working together. All of these things are really good news as they provide the fundamental basis for better working in today’s organisations – networked organisations being very much more fit for the purpose of catering to the networked world.
Convergence of technology
No longer are ESNs in a different place to where work actually gets done. Increasingly the need for things to co-exist and integrate seamlessly has been recognised (eg ESNs, File Sync and Share tools, CRM, ERP etc). Gartner summarised this in their September Social Software Magic Quadrant report: “This market’s structure is changing as social software is increasingly used alongside information management systems and business applications — a development that favors vendors with strengths in those areas.”
Looking at what some of the leaders in this space that we’ve been working with are doing, this is definitely the case:
- Microsoft has made great strides in the right direction in 2014 after people doubted whether we’d ever really see any Yammer integration. Clearly now Office 365 and on premise MSFT is all about a much closer knit solution of communications with collaboration, of enterprise social, with office docs with file storage etc. One thing we’ll be watching with interest is how long O365 Groups and Yammer will be able to co-exist.
- Jive has always understood all this and positioned themselves as a people-centric heart of the business, “the people are the platform” etc so they seem well positioned going into the new year and indeed can be very proud to have generated many of the most compelling success stories out there despite being one of the smaller vendors.
- IBM maintain a strong proposition in that they have email, social etc (and now the #newwaytowork IBM Verse set to ‘revolutionise email’). Again it will be interesting to see how this pans out in the new year.
- There’s also been a lot of activity and new functionality coming from established players such as Sitrion and Zimbra, and the newer entrants like Beem and the 4th Office.
Keeping up to date with all the tools out there is hard enough for us (and we work in this space..!). It’s particularly tricky because quite rightly none of them like playing the features comparison game as it’s as much, if not more, about how these tools work behind the scenes. My best recommendation would be to follow my colleague and friend Kostas Kastrisios and his @better_working tweets.
Gartner of course have some great info if you can get hold of their Sept 2014 Social Software Magic Quadrant report for example. There’s a link to it here (thanks Jive).
If you’re looking for case studies, we’ll be launching a new website in early 2015 with some of our work on it. There is an increasing number of good ones out there, contrary to what I wrote last year ; )
And of course Simply Communicate continue to do a really great job sharing a vast amount of case studies.
Convergence of functions aka more collaborative working
There has been increasing understanding of the need to collaborate to bring about more collaboration. So often our role at Betterworking is in fact to get things started by helping departmental leaders to ‘align’ behind a programme. And the more we see real success coming from this the more confident we have become in the ways this needs to happen – often in large organisations by gathering evidence across operating companies, so that leaders can get a handle on the complex global / local dynamics at play. But equally we have been able to learn from smaller businesses where things can happen so much faster.
I always remember having a coffee with Euan Semple in 2009, discussing how long these changes would actually take, despite the speed of technology advancement. Still, we are getting there, and scary disruption – combined with new expectations from CEOs and other leaders who now get this stuff – should further accelerate change next year.
Read these, if you haven’t already
With so much going on I think it’s always useful to remind ourselves of some core reading, events and training.
Some of the ‘classics’ that I fall back on again and again have to include these, they may not be brand new, but they’re as relevant now as they were when published and great thinking always stands the test of time:
1. Organisations don’t Tweet, people do – Euan Semple
I mentioned @euan above, I love this book and so does everyone I’ve recommended it to. I still believe everybody should read this, it’s as relevant to a global banking group’s procurement head I spoke with last week, as it is to a student community manager who attended our training course. It’s a very entertaining and enjoyable read, and a great way to enjoy Euan’s unique blend common sense, humour, experience and human understanding.
2. Collaboration – Morten T Hansen
I don’t know how many times Chris Copland and I have referred back to this book when talking with clients in complex organisations. Morten’s definitions of the right kind of collaboration, and the simple way he highlights the barriers to collaboration created by modern management, are easy to understand, and are as powerful as they are true.
3. MacroWikinomics – Don Tapscott
A great read, my old friend Andrew Easton introduced me to the genius of Don Tapscott back in Bupa Live days, again I think everyone involved in ‘digital transformation’ should read this. OK, it’s kinda repeating a lot of his original Wikinomics, but I think this one is more up to date and complete in many ways. Don Tapscott has always been the Don and I reckon this is his best book.
4. And here’s a good list of business books from Business Insider that Kostas Kastrisios shared with me, I’m particularly interested in Number 15 to read Marissa Mayer’s book as not sure I’ve always agreed with everything she’s said.
Events and training to plan in for the new year
Finally, if you’re looking to upskill yourself or your team, then we’d always recommend the Simply SMILE events, and if you’re seeking the best training then come along to one of these courses brought to you by PR Academy and Betterworking (OK I am very biased, but we love these sessions and they seem to be going down very well).
Hope you find at least some of that helpful, and here’s to making work better in 2015. We’re getting there!
Author: Nick Crawford