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Social business requires a process evolution, not a technology evolution

22nd Feb 2012
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Dennis O’Malley of Moxie talks to about the biggest misconceptions surrounding collaboration projects and the importance of customer-centricity in social enterprise networking.

There are two things that people are saying about social media - "Oh my god, I can't believe that there are actually 845 million people on a social network" and "how do you tap into that and replicate it internally into an enterprise?"

So says Dennis O'Malley, vp of services at enterprise social software firm Moxie, who refers to this as "the Facebook effect". And inevitably, enterprises' rush to answer the question above is leading to a number of dead ends.

He continues: "Enterprises have all failed in social technologies, whether it's through experimentation with services like Yammer or in corporate web initiatives around SharePoint - everybody’s experienced failures and they're looking for a partner that knows what the hurdles to adoption are and can help successfully socialise their business processes, take the information internally and share that knowledge externally out to their clients." 

O’Malley doesn’t see this as a technology evolution. He explains that few organisations are asking for social technologies with executives instead asking for help eliminating work processes such as email, documents and meetings.

"The evolution is understanding that social software can provide new business processes. It’s exposing where the hurdles are in terms of collaboration and determining where the disconnects are from the customer to the enterprise and understanding that a social technology and social platform can overcome that. Those are the 'aha' moments for the enterprises."

Social media misconceptions

The benefits for organisations able to implement this are on multiple levels, he explains, highlighting the work Moxie is doing with Chapters Indigo, Canada’s largest bookstore, which utilises the social enterprise networking technology to collaborate with each of their divisional stores and share information quickly.

"They average eight minutes on the site a day, getting the information they need to get their job done more productively. Think retail - instead of spending time looking for information, they're with their customers, so that's productivity," he says. "With some of our clients, whether it is a university like Harvard or USC or Roosevelt, people are engaged because they can be found and share information but they can also connect with people and their recipients."

The biggest misconception around collaboration projects is that “conversations or noise equals adoption, or that social technology is about providing status updates," says O'Malley. "People in organisations need to look at how their innovating, how their sourcing knowledge, how their collaborating knowledge and how their sharing and communicating that knowledge and if they're not, they're just doing something wrong.

"There’s very little to do with social technology and another big misconception that I see, especially from IT leaders, is the worry of ‘How much time are my people going to spend on this? And what are they actually going to do?'"

So who is approaching Moxie for their services? O’Malley explains that the company's services are requested by organisations which have either tried a ‘freemium’ version of a tool or attempted to customise and build their own tool before realising they need a platform that is useable, personalised, low maintenance and can be easily integrated and upgraded.


"We're a people-centric tool but clearly have a competitive advantage in the marketplace around our approach to enterprise-wide deployment of operations and communications system," he says. "It’s very business strategy focused. We do a lot of work and have a lot of IT from our Moxie insight group in which Don Tapscott and Tammy Erickson are great thought leaders. We bring IT into discovery sessions to map out and chart out what current business processes are. We deploy through a use case method which means every place that we see within the organisation has a purpose and an executive sponsor and people know what they’re going to do on a social network and it has a result."

O’Malley continues: "So we're not a freemium version where you're going to download an activity stream and connect with other people - we almost see that as what happens in an occupy movement. It’s a lot of noise, it peaks really clearly, there are a lot of people there and then everything goes away. And that's generally what's happened with enterprise activity streams.

"We believe that we do a good job with those types of process, helping them architect a long-term social collaboration platform that is going to provide a lot of self-service as well as provide an organic place to where the community can provide self-help, answers, crowdsourcing knowledge and the ability to participate to be recognised and rewarded."

So with many organisations focused on social enterprise networking, how is Moxie setting itself apart from competitors?

O’Malley says: "There’s clearly a lot of noise out there. On one end the technology vendors can't be everything to all people but as a company that has six enterprise clients we've generally been selected by companies that have mission critical applications."

He continues: "In terms of how we differentiate, it’s people-centric – it all centres around knowledge and at the end it is how can you connect your information from your customers, bring that into the enterprise. How can you take the knowledge in your enterprise, put that into a knowledge base and be able to communicate that out to your clients?

"So it's that interaction where boundaries are changing in client and internal relationships and they want to be able to have configurable communications to their constituencies and their clients.” He concludes: “That’s how we’ve been brought in and that's how we distinguish ourselves through our experience, our clients and mission critical business applications."


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By luke winter
24th Feb 2012 21:57

Excellent article, great to hear Dennis’ thoughts. The reasons for an individual joining facebook are numerous, but no doubt a lot of those reasons may not be ones that a businesses would want to encourage within their own organisation! Though fostering strong internal community is a very laudable goal, I  don’t feel facebook is a model that should be copied to achieve that aim.

Luke Winter
Community Manager

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