Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  16 Aug 2012

INFOTECH: Driving Innovation


Recent Gauteng Business News

The information age has provided a golden opportunity yet to be taken advantage of on a large scale – Relevant information. The more information, the better, is the prevailing wisdom. However, the result is information overload with an inability to filter, leaving what is relevant to us. E-mail is the perfect example of this overload.

Where social used to be about posting the details of your weekend adventures and maybe a few embarrassing photos with a circle of friends, it has now evolved beyond its origins as a novelty for entertainment. Many organisations began embracing social media as a marketing tool — an extension of their existing marketing strategy. Social networking then flowed internally and became a tool for internal collaboration and better staff engagement. Vendors such as Telligent and Jive entered the market providing tools that felt much like consumer-facing social networks, but with the safety and control of enterprise software.

Enter Enterprise Social Networking (ESN). This doesn’t refer to one specific solution but to the idea of improving the use of a number of enterprise productivity applications, piggybacking on the success of social media platforms.

Trying to define the Social Enterprise is like saying one definition describes all enterprises, says Wheeler. Not only are enterprises different, but since the advent of the computer, a mountain of business applications have been developed in support of these differences. The modern enterprise, with all its productivity applications, will find its solutions in retrofitting, buying new and, in some cases, replacing old solutions. “There will be no one size fits all.”

However, there are threads that are becoming evident in terms of best practices when choosing and implementing an ESN infrastructure. Social media platforms’ focus on collaboration and networking the individual and are limiting as opposed to those opportunities presented by ESN, says Wheeler, because the individual is still focused on the individual. “The concepts of ‘like’ and ‘follow’ and even groups when implemented to ‘follow’ or ‘like’ are of exclusion first and inclusion on a per-case basis as defined by the individual. This method has been tested with an unsurprising result, as you cannot go against human nature. Everyone liked everyone, everyone followed everyone, everyone disliked what they saw, everyone reduced their likes, stopped following, returning to their groups of comfort. A number of ESNs follow this schema to the detriment of innovation, a key enterprise asset.”

For this reason, ModernBusiness has taken a completely different approach to social networking in the enterprise. This is called ideas and when branded becomes “Your ideas”. Instead of working on who said what, like most social network models, ideas is built around areas of interest which help to fuel innovation. Fully customisable, the portal will allow staff, customers and suppliers together or separate collaborate, innovate and manage the enterprise knowledge in a simple and effective manner.

“Innovation is the secret to sustainability in the modern age. If you are not innovating, your competitors are taking market share and ultimately your market. We are moving quickly past the age of cost management and outsourcing; startups, Internet businesses, and companies able to pivot quickly are the enterprises of the future,” says Wheeler. “Innovation cannot be created or forced but can be facilitated and nurtured by creating areas of interest and allowing users to follow the areas of interest to them. This builds on the common definition of weak and strong ties. Strong ties are those within your circle, department, group and typically with the same experience and/or problem as you. Weak ties are those unknown to one another, bringing together a wide array of experiences for a common interest or problem. Weak ties are the better breeding ground for innovation. So if you are going to introduce social networking into your enterprise, make sure you focus on innovation, as by nature social means collaboration.”

How enterprises communicate with staff, customers, clients and suppliers has taken a new turn thanks to social becoming digital. It is faster, more engaging and searchable, but with one slow moving component - the individual. User interface development is going backwards. Instead of cluttered and complicated, interfaces are going back to easy, simple and less cluttered, with a view to consumption economics, which is only need what you can use.

That is Ideas, or in fact, “Your ideas”.

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