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5 Collaboration Tools to Advance Productivity in Enterprise Social Networks

McKinsey Report Shows Economic Impact of Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration

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Collaboration tools enabling people to connect and interact virtually are showing signs of creating global economic impact in productivity. In the McKinsey Global Institute published report, “The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies” an in-depth analysis suggests over one trillion dollars annually may be unlocked in knowledge worker productivity--on a transformative scale critical to performance and growth in the 21st century.

Largely untapped, social technologies, frequently called collaboration tools, can provide a growth opportunity across the value chain for development and maturity in enterprise social networks. But it is not about snapping on social tools to your operational processes and expecting organizational change to happen on its own.

Organizational change, the McKinsey study points out, requires an openness and a non-hierarchy culture of knowledge sharing, which will require time. As your organization may have already begun to embrace organizational change, more intently on improving communication and collaboration, there are apt to be specific types of technologies that can increase collaborative behavior across enterprise social networks, which will help people to share interests and activities in achieving business goals.

These five collaboration tools and examples of organizational change demonstrate directly productive activities across enterprise social networks.

1. Project Collaboration Tools to Facilitate Learning Collaboration Skills

Podio
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Project collaboration tools will become natural breeding grounds for project teams to learn collaboration skills. Team members are engaged on a daily basis through shared workspaces and activities. Individuals are responsible for sharing content, performing tasks with dependencies on each other and collectively will be rewarded for positive outcomes of their projects. Individuals can learn to collaborate as the emphasis shifts to the team goals.

In selecting project collaboration tools, consider those that can serve an enterprise, and implement by department, group, and project basis. One particular project collaboration tool, Podio Software is showing promise of providing ready-built and customizable apps that teams can immediately be involved in to support uses as varied as marketing projects, human resource recruiting, and partner-supplier relationships.

2. Social Software to Foster an Open Network Culture

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Social software platforms are primarily designed for building an open network culture, like Jive, Chatter, and IBM Connections. In a true enterprise social network, people are connected to freely access resources within the organization. Resources for subject matter experts and other business critical functions are not only discoverable but personalized recommendations through profiles, search mechanisms, and news feeds and blogs with linked commenting systems. If you're part of a hierarchical organization, consider the benefits of open access to all members of the organization, and often external partners to enable an organization-wide open network culture.

A strategic vision of transparency and communication pathways to help overcome barriers and control mechanisms will work toward building trust. The marketplace for social software has several key providers that will serve your particular technology infrastructure and preferences.

3. Innovation Management Tools to Co-create Products and Services

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Innovation management tools provide the impetus for crowdsourcing ideas and collaborative exchange of expertise for co-creating products and services. The innovation processes are managed through presentation of challenges that create business value within an organization. Extending challenges to external users through customer specific community sites and discussion forums can offer unique insights for creating new or improved products and features.

Cloud-based innovation tools, typically software as a service (SaaS), provide end-to-end innovation with business process integration, project management, and ROI analysis. Innovation management has become an integral part of manufacturing, packaged goods, and other large scale product development organizations.

4. Web Conferencing Tools to Actively Collaborate

Enterprise collaboration is inevitably managed through web conferencing tools. Despite the aversion to meetings nowadays, web conferencing tools provide instant connection for virtual meetings when individuals or groups are positioned to initiate collaboration to achieve business results.

Web conferencing tools are integral social technologies for communication and collaboration across enterprise social networks near or far. Regional offices in geographically dispersed locations are bridged easily with voice and video, as well as cloud based file storage for use in conducting presentations, webinars, and sales meetings. GlobalMeet is one particular example among others offering enterprise-class collaboration tools. Online meetings serve as a collaboration tool for daily productive use on project teams, recruiting interviews, and face-to-face client meetings.

5. Wiki Tools to Build Knowledge-Sharing Work Processes

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For enterprise social networks, wiki tools are practical for building knowledge bases and maintaining documents. Enterprise wide access may support collaborative knowledge systems that can integrate ongoing marketing, sales, and technical support activities. Wikis may help to manage decision support systems to update and distribute service and support to a global customer base.

Wikis are typically integrated in social technology toolsets, including team workspaces that will show business benefits for ongoing collaborative work activities. Among a host of tools, wikis are a low-cost enterprise solution.
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