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Most social collaboration projects powered by prayer

3rd Apr 2013
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If you think that social projects tend to run on a wing and a prayer, then you're not wrong. Although over two thirds of firms (70%) have adopted social technologies, most collaboration initiatives fail because they follow a worst practice approach of “provide and pray”, Gartner has concluded.

Anthony Bradley, group VP at Gartner, explained that this sees organisations implementing a new solution with the hope that something comes good of it, such as a community forming and participants' interactions naturally delivering business value.

“As a result, this approach sees a 10% success rate, and the underlying reason is usually that the organisation did not provide a compelling cause around which a community could form and be motivated to provide their time and knowledge. In other words, purpose was lacking,” he said.

The statement follows Gartner’s research into the social collaboration efforts of more than 1,000 organisations and found social collaboration initiatives that have a clear and compelling purpose from the outset tend to succeed.

Bradley added: “A well-defined purpose identifies who the participants are, what specific issue they are collaborating around, what value they will gain for themselves, and what value will be provided to the organisation.”

Gartner has identified five characteristics of a good purpose as being:

  • Participant magnetism: The purpose should naturally motivate people to participate. This is the ‘what's in it for me’ characteristic. Users should easily grasp its importance and the value of participating. The purpose must have meaning to the participants, and build within them a compelling need to participate. If you have to create interest among users, especially through costly incentives, you've chosen the wrong purpose.
  • Community draw: The purpose must resonate with enough people to catalyse a community and deliver robust user-generated content. The best communities are heavily unbalanced in their two-way approaches, meaning that the community contributes far more content than the supporting enterprise. Find out how powerful the purpose is for drawing in significant numbers of people and contributions.
  • Organisational value: The purpose should have a clear business outcome. This is the ‘what's in it for the organisation’ characteristic. Choose purposes where organisational value can be clearly measured and shared with the community as feedback and motivation to continue participating.
  • Low community risk: Choose low risk over high reward. The purpose, especially early in an organisation’s social application maturity, should be low risk. This overall characteristic derives from four types of risk:
      - Culture risk is the risk that the corporate culture is not conducive to mass collaboration.
      -  Adoption risk is the risk that people will not be inclined to collaborate on this subject or in this community.
      - Information risk is the risk that the community's shared information will be sensitive in nature.
      - Result risk is the risk that, even if a community forms, its interactions will not bear fruit.
  • Promoting evolution: Select purposes that you and the community can build on. Determine the dependencies between purposes. Some purposes have a more natural tendency to lead to others and to facilitate emergence, while that others are more subordinate. Those that have no dependencies but can lead to other purposes score higher. 

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