Companies are Becoming Social Networks – Support That!

It is becoming the norm, and rapidly so, to use our own devices at work (the much hyped BYOD phenomenon). It makes sense, it makes us more productive and it makes work ever so slightly more fun. It also helps us to ditch the change of personality that affects us as we walk through the doors at work. It is also a huge challenge for those whose job it is to account and control it all. As all the preconceived boundaries blur we need to provide tools that support and enable this more fractured, non-linear life. Companies are becoming social networks.

IT departments will change beyond recognition as the IT know-how and the tools they deliver moves into the business itself. IT budgets will follow. And, if there is still a need to say so out loud, Real Time capability is a critical factor in providing that support. Both customers (or workers) and operators need to know what is happening as it happens and be able to react instantly. Policy and behavior will be in sync and flexible to ever changing situations and demands.

This is not just blue-sky thinking. Companies are already doing this. Consultancy PwC has introduced a process that solves business problems for clients, while flattening the organization and incentivizing ideas, contributions and engagement. A business problem is worked into a challenge with a client and fed into the system and everyone in the organization is encouraged to provide ideas to solve the problem.

Peer review and collaboration (and a certain amount of judicial experience) select the best ideas and these are presented to the client as proposals. Participants are recognised and rewarded in numerous ways with those that provide the winning ideas recognised in special ways. This can range from a family day out with senior Execs during the Jubilee Celebrations, watching the Royal Barge and procession from the roof, to special public mentions in firm-wide communications. An in-house currency earned through participation is used to ‘invest’ in a virtual stock market of the top ideas in a campaign, helping to filter the top ideas further. Dividend payments for investments in ideas selected for presentation to the client (and the accumulation of currency during a campaign) can be redeemed in a virtual ‘store’ in exchange for different rewards, from donations to charity, shadowing a partner for a day to securing lunch with the Chairman. Sometimes it is as simple as receiving an email in the middle of your working day from the Chairman or Managing Partner thanking you for your idea or contribution.  Recognition in public is worth a lot.

This system is in use in just one country at the moment, but still available to 17,000 minds and will soon be rolled out globally so there will be hundreds of thousands of brains on the case. This might be the way that business works from now on. The technical term that springs to mind is ‘pretty damn cool.’

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Alex Leslie
About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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