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The state of enterprise social collaboration

  • Posted on September 2, 2015

Enterprise SocialI was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share my insight on the intersection of sales, marketing, and technology. The series, which is hosted by Josh Bland, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.

In this episode we discussed enterprise social technology, the future of collaboration and the upcoming SharePoint Tech Conference. Below are a couple of highlights from our conversation.

TechnologyAdvice: What are your thoughts on the future of collaboration in the digital workplace?

Michelle Caldwell: We're seeing more concern around the digital workplace, which means enabling the entire organization to digital customer experience management and opening the doors to collaboration. But more than the current internally based collaboration, where you're getting information not only from your peer groups within the organization, but opening that up to your partners — even your competitors.

Microsoft is a great example of a company that's reaching beyond their own borders:

  • Their cloud partnership with IBM
  • Their connectors from Office 365 to Salesforce
  • Giving away Windows 10 for free
  • Opening up the Azure platform
  • The Linux and open sourcing for .net programming

In many ways within Avanade, we see the value of that, and here are some enablers. When we talk about enterprise social, it's a great enabler, which allows you to engage seamlessly outside of your organization. It's so easy to enable an external network on technology platforms like Yammer.

Delta is great example of a company that's really leveraging this mindset. They did a survey with their customers to pinpoint what some of their customers biggest complaints with their service were, and found that cancelled flights was one of the most irksome things that was impacting their customer service satisfaction ratings.

They then did some data analysis internally, and then focused on plane maintenance and having good backup plans, having empty planes proactively in places where they had traditionally seen the most flight cancellations, and having fresh crews available in those areas more readily available.  As a result they've been able to drive down their cancellations significantly, which has improved not only their internal workers' ability to do their jobs well and feel satisfied about the work they're doing, but their customers are happier, too. This is just powerful stuff.

TA: How are companies dealing with the ever increasing social sphere of communication?

Michelle Caldwell: I predict we're going to see more organizations maturing out of the infancy phase of enterprise social network and grassroots efforts.  In addition to leveraging communities of practice, to empower their workforces and moving into more things around collecting focus group information to innovate and create new ways to improve their businesses and service their employees and customers.

We have younger generations entering the workforce, where this is the way in which they are accustomed and most effective in communicating. They're really driving (both from a consumer and an employee perspective) the need to open up the borders of communications, which is what the digital workplace premise is based on — leveraging things like enterprise social. We'll see a maturity in how organizations harness the power of Enterprise Social in the context of the digital workplace. We'll also see things like machine learning become really important parts of analyzing what's going on in those enterprise social networks and what value and impact they have within the business.

I think we'll see some great things coming out of organizations like Microsoft, where we see them embracing machine learning in things like Delve and Office Graph. I think we will see continued investment in extending this capability throughout their offerings in Office 365. They're actually bringing the Delve experience to on premise customers later this year with an update to SharePoint 2013.

There are organizations having tremendous success out there with enterprise social. It becomes part of that digital collaborative work space and if our businesses are not transformed digitally internally they cannot transform their businesses digitally on the outside.

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