November 10, 2012 at 11:27 am #172257
Title: The Networked Watercooler: virtualising collaboration
Author: Dr. Nicola J. Millard
Imagine this scenario:
You are working from home and need to go to a team meeting which is four hours away by car, do you:
(a) Hop in the car – you hate sitting in traffic for hours but your physical presence will be missed.
(b) Dial in to an audio bridge – since most of the rest of the team will be doing the same.
(c) Use videoconferencing – it’s almost as good as face-to-face and no travel is required.
(d) Meet up in a virtual world which combines talk, text and video.
The chances are that you used to do (a), but are more likely now to do (b), a bit of (a) and (c) in exceptional circumstances but would probably only do (d) if you were an online gamer or a futurologist.
The growth of collaboration tools and technologies has evolved alongside rapidly changing work patterns. Work is increasingly becoming what we do rather than where we are . With employees not necessarily in the same office (or even in the same country) as the people that they work with, face-to-face meetings can be an expensive, environmentally unfriendly and time-consuming luxury. Meetings often happen outside the confines of the meeting room. Serendipitous conversations that used to happen around the watercooler, the kettle or the photocopier are as likely to happen on social media as in the office now.
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November 10, 2012 at 11:31 am #172260
Additional Comments (and somewhat of a sales pitch) from BT
The term “Social media” inherently comes with a problem – it’s called “social” media and so some people dismiss it as a tool that can help people become more productive at work. However, work IS social – it’s just social in a subtly different way to our lives outside work. The one thing that employees have in common is their employer – so conversations about seemingly trivial things may well evolve into something much more valuable to the business.
There are also many flavours of social media — from a Facebook page, Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile through to a specialist forum bringing together expertise, providers, customers and anyone with a passing interest.
Precisely because it’s so hard to pin down, the place of social media in organisations remains so variable. However, McKinsey research shows that 72 per cent of companies surveyed used social technologies in their business and 90 per cent of those reported seeing business benefits.
Dr Nicola Millard, BT’s Customer Experience Futurologist, believes one of the big strengths of social collaboration platforms is their combination of communication with content. Collaboration on social media is very different to collaboration on the phone, email or instant messaging. To collaborate using those tools, you need to know who to collaborate with – with social media, you put the issue out there and people who you may not know who potentially have the answer come to you!
The benefits of social media tend to come to the individual first – a social network of one is useless, so content gets richer as the number of active users increase. But to get to this point requires enterprises to encourage openness, collaboration and also reward contribution. They also need to integrate social media into the complete toolkit for collaboration rather than having it as a “nice to have” bolt on.
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