MAD Perspectives Blog

Does Your Organizational Structure Inhibit Social Networking?

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, August 17, 2010

As marketers plan their social media strategy, they usually focus on content, resources and platforms.  I rarely hear anyone discuss organizational structure.  Yet, a company’s organizational model can reveal a lot about how they will use social networking platforms.  The structure of an organization impacts processes and behaviors that will reflect company and employee comfort with the openness and interactivity of social media. 

The primary organization structures are:

Structure

Characteristics

Adoption of Social Media

Functional

-          Employees perform a specific set of tasks (i.e., marketing, engineering, sales, etc.)

-          Focus on operational efficiency and economies of scale

-          Fosters technical expertise

-          Creates silos

-          Communication across silos is difficult

-          Focus on process, hierarchy and control

-          Pursuit of social media  will require planning of  strategy, policy, clear metrics and employee training

-          Social media most likely to be pursued by marketing department only

-          Employees may not feel empowered to communicate socially  

-          Social media primarily used to reinforce outbound marketing messaging

Divisional

-          Employees organized by product or geography

-          Employees perform specific functions within the divisional structure

-          High accountability for achieving goals

-          Communication encouraged across function to achieve goals

-          Little interaction between divisions

-          Hierarchical within the division

-          Pursuit of social media  will require planning of  strategy, policy, clear metrics and employee training

-          Social media effort led by marketing with intent to include other functions

-          Strong interest in gaining external feedback

Matrix

-          Employees organized by function and product

-          Structure reinforces and broadens employee expertise

-          Reduces organizational silos

-          Requires clear communication of goals, objectives and metrics

-          Poor communication can create confusion and/or stress

-          Focus on communication will foster interest in use of social networks as extension of communication model

-          Multi-tasking employees will easily adapt

-          Requires clarity in how social media will support goals & objectives

-          Collaborative environment will easily adapt to interactive nature of social media

 

The focus here is primarily around structure and does not take into account culture or communication style, which was discussed in a previous posting.  The level of bureaucracy in a company may impact willingness to communicate effectively internally, externally or on social networks. You may want to consider the impact of social media on existing organizational structures, business processes and communication methods.  While full scale reorganization is not the goal, education and training may help management and/or employees understand how the use of social media influences the existing business model.

While organizational theory segments company structures into the simple models referenced above, it is likely that your company reflects some mix of the models noted.  Your company’s approach to social media will reflect a combination of cultural and organizational influences.  It is important to recognize the challenges they may represent when building and implementing a B2B social media strategy.

What’s your perspective?



HP, Culture Shock & Social Networks

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 09, 2010

Last week I began a discussion about the impact of corporate culture on a company’s level of comfort with social media.  While I was thinking about this week’s continuation of this discussion, the CEO of my former employer, HP, resigned due to allegations of misconduct.   This news hit the social airwaves like tsunami last Friday. I enjoyed a 24 year career of Hewlett-Packard Company, which means I was lucky enough to have learned from the founders, Bill and Dave, what it means to be open, ethical, moral and to do business with integrity.   One of the key elements of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct is to “think about how your decision or behavior would look in a press article”.  This is a good foundation for us to consider when we think about how a company’s culture and organizational model impact the company’s use of social media.

HP’s culture and what became known as the “HP Way” focused on innovation, integrity and collaboration.   This culture was a natural match for social media.  The predecessor to today’s social networks was “MBWA" or management by walking around.  In HP, this meant an ability to learn from others in your office.  Employees would mix and mingle and share experiences.  Many careers grew through discovery and learning from peers.   HP’s founders would have been cautious about protecting HP’s Intellectual Property but they would have loved the ability to crowd source innovative concepts. However, over the past decade or so, the culture at HP changed.  This was a result of both external and internal forces.

External forces include the internet and the rampant availability of information.  They also include the increased demands from the financial services sector for all companies to provide and meet quarterly estimates.  This kind of instant gratification will change the way any company works.  Internal forces took the shape of CEOs and managers hired to lead change (defined in many diverse ways) but who each also had personal agendas.  In all cases the “HP Way” was deemed out dated and the collaboration of old gave way to siloed, hierarchical organizations with formerly empowered employees fearful of making even the smallest mistake.  Could Mark Hurd's HP, with a culture of cost containment, hierarchical decision making and limited employee empowerment, succeed in social media?

Interestingly, the answer is yes.  Consistent with its current command and control model, HP has a well defined, publically available, blogging policy.  They even have a digital media council, which includes representatives from all business units, that sets the policy for how HP will participate in social networks.  Any employee that will represent the company on a social network must take the requisite training.  So, HP empowers its employees with guidelines of expected behavior.  Is that really empowerment? I check on various HP blogs from time to time and follow several twitter feeds.  I find them interesting but cautious.  I think that HP could use social media as more than another PR channel.  I believe this is indicative of the internal culture.  That said, HP is number 22 on the NetPropex Social Index, which measures the social network activity of the largest U.S. corporations across a variety of social platforms.  Imagine what HP's score would be if the former culture of openness and collaboration was prevalent.

As a former HP employee and current HP shareholder, I hope HP’s next CEO balances innovation and operational excellence.  I hope they remember that their 300,000+ employees are the company’s biggest asset.  I hope they empower them to connect, communicate and collaborate, using social media, with their peers both inside and outside the company to create and innovate market changing solutions.

What’s your perspective?



The Social DAM

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, July 06, 2010

In this world of all things social, there is a lot of focus on making existing platforms social.  As an example, there have been many discussions about social CRM.  While salesforce.com is considered to be social, traditional systems (i.e., Oracle) are not.  A simple definition of social CRM is “having a discussion when, where and how the customer wants it.”  Coming from a world of digital media, should we be talking about Social Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems? Should users be able to access or provide digital assets when, where and how they want?   Is this an oxymoron or redundant?  Let’s review what functions a DAM system performs.

DAM systems evolved to address the challenges facing organizations who manage a variety of digital assets.  In an enterprise business, these assets would traditionally be managed by the marketing department.  They would include corporate logos & images.  If anyone outside of the marketing department needed these images, for any reason, they needed to go through the marketing department to gain access to these assets.  This could be a slow process with many bottlenecks.

Digital Asset Management systems evolved to provide a central repository for digital assets.  As these assets have evolved beyond static images into rich media assets incorporating audio and video, DAM systems became more elegant in how they addressed issues of tagging, metadata, taxonomy, ontology and overall semantics.  DAM systems, by necessity, must be easily integrated with other systems such as editing, transcoding, storage, digital rights and distribution.

Today, DAM systems are accessible by users across the enterprise, whenever they want.  Marketing may own the responsibility for establishing a corporate wide policy for tagging, metadata, etc., but groups such as sales, engineering, product management have access to the company’s digital media assets.  There is still separation between producers and consumers.  Does providing access make the system social?  Or does it become social when those same groups can become producers and contribute their own content and assets? 

Perhaps a DAM system with the ability to annotate, rank and comment on these assets makes it social within the enterprise.  Or, perhaps it’s the option for online, interactive communication that facilitates effective collaboration.  System features now enable users to rank assets or for managers to understand how many times an asset is viewed partly or in full. DAM systems providethe intelligence and elements of social platforms.  DAM systems continue to evolve and incorporate features that feel social.  Perhaps they are already social as these capabilities are core components of many social sites and platforms.

The ability for a DAM system to accept and manage user generated content (UGC) is increasingly important.  If companies recognize the social web as a relevant content distribution outlet, they may also need to consider it as a source of content input.  The DAM system can become more social by enabling content upload and the assignment of relevant tags, metadata by establishing and automating a standard taxonomy and ontology.  Thus the DAM enables users to access all digital media assets for the company, when, where and how they like.

Are you accessing your companies DAM system?  Does it feel social to you?  If so, why?  If not, what would make it more social?

What's your perspective?



Developing a 360º Perspective

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As I was watching the women’s mogul skiing competition at the Winter Olympics on Saturday, I saw how they bounced down the moguls, taking great care to maintain the correct form.  Then they would flip head over heels with in layout positions or skis crossed or spin 360º, only to land and ski through more bumps.  I thought about how companies struggle to integrate digital media solutions into a 360º interaction with customers.  What do I mean by this?  I’m thinking about how companies reach out to their customers or business partners via their website, press releases, events, in-person or online training or customer support.  There are new solutions for managing your access to or accessibility by customers, emerging every day.

Does digital media make this easier?  Harder?  Or just more confusing?  Hopefully it makes it easier, but it does require some thinking on several topics.  First, think about who your customers are and how they prefer to consume content.  While face to face meetings are always preferred, depending on the information being shared it can be equally effective, and less costly, to reach a geographically dispersed or broad range of customers through live and on-demand webinars.  What level of interaction do they prefer?  While some webinar solution allow for instant messaging or audio interaction, others don’t.  Or, perhaps a webinar is too broad and complementing in person meetings with video conferencing makes more sense.

Second, think about the kind of information you are sharing.  We have been in the mode of pushing content, through formal, relatively static channels, to our customer and business partners.  With the variety of solutions now available, we are increasingly sharing content in a more casual manner.   How can the information being shared be best presented?  A simple, concise press release can inform a very wide audience, but does not allow for interaction.  On the other hand, using social networking platforms, to reinforce the press release and listen for feedback, does enable interaction.  The goal is to strike a balance across the variety of communication channels. 



Simplistically, you can consider the following
         
  •  Company website:  informative content about your company and its products
  • Press Release:  announce compelling news about your company, its products, partnerships, customers or   executives   
  • Interactive Marketing:  online advertising and promotion of your company
  • Online Video:  one way communication of information about your company and its products
  • Webinars:  communicate targeted content about the company and its products with the ability for structured   interaction between the presenter(s) and participants
  • Video conferencing:  live interaction between a defined set of participants; enable geographically dispersed participants to meet more frequently
  • Events:  targeted representation of your company and its products based on the focus of the event; enable face to face contact
  • Social Networking:  less formal communication with a broad audience with the ability for immediate feedback

    • How do you connect with your customers and partners? Who and where are they?  Where are your competitors and how are they connecting?   How does each element of a communication strategy enable you to connect or collaborate more effectively?  Think about developing a strategy to allow your customers or partners to get a 360º perspective of your business.  In return, you will gain a 360º view of your customers and their needs.
    • What’s your perspective?

     



    Adjusting your Organization Structure with Digital Media

    Peggy Dau - Monday, February 01, 2010

    So you’re thinking about jumping on the Enterprise 2.0 bandwagon.  You’re not only thinking about incorporating social networking into your marketing plan, you are thinking about how Web 2.0 and social networking platforms can facilitate the way you do business.  You may be thinking about enhancing your customer support capabilities through customer support forums.   Or, you may be considering how you can create an internal social network to simplify the ways employees connect, collaborate and communicate with each other.  Or, you may be considering a plethora of other ways that you can enhance the way your business works.

    If you believe that Web 2.0 tools and platforms can help your business, you are right!  However, be prepared to invest the necessary time to build a strategy and consider the organizational impact.  OK, now you’re thinking, am I biting off more than I can chew?  No!  It’s only that in many ways implementing these solutions can change the way your current business processes work.  In fact, it can streamline many of them.  This is why it is important to think about how these solutions may change existing formal or informal organizational structures and processes.

    The organizations that we work within have evolved based on number of norms.  These norms are institutional, social, community and individual.  They informally define how we process information and interact with others.  They are the underlying factors that drive the structure of an organization   Look at the differences between how Baby Boomers and Gen Y work, learn and motivate:

     

    Baby Boomer (born:  1946- 1964)

    Gen Y (born: 1978-1994)

    Work Style

    Time management

    Multi-tasking

    Learning Style

    Instruction

    Experience

    Collaboration

    Collaborative

    Independent (resists collaboration)

    Motivations

    Independence

    Competition

    View on Authority

    Respect for others is earned

    Respect for Authority

    Structure

    De-centralized, non-hierarchical

    Centralized, hierarchical

    Information Access

    Access for all

    Access to those in power

       Source:  http://ekarine.org/wp-admin/pub/IAMOT_DN_2008.pdf

    Today, much of corporate America reflects organizational structure and business processes that reflect the influence of the Baby Boomer mindset.  However, with the increasing adoption of digital media solutions which inherently broaden communication, increase collaboration and expand employee connectivity, traditional structures will need to adapt.  There has been much talk within the Fortune 100-500 in the past decade about the Adaptive Enterprise.  This term was coined by Stephan H. Haeckel in his 1999 book the Adaptive Enterprise.  Much of Haeckel’s theory resonates today when speaking of sense and respond organization.  However, have organizations really adopted employee empowerment,  de-centralized hierarchy and open communication, only to retrench to what is familiar and comfortable.

    Digital Media, through its use of video, instant messaging or chat and blogging, increases the capacity for any company to quickly understand shifting market trends, customer concerns, product adoption, technology innovation and more.  When moving forward with digital media solutions think about the impact on your information systems, organization culture, communication practices, employee abilities and reward structures. 

    The knowledge you can gain as a business and as an employee is increases dramatically when using social networks.  As the saying goes, “knowledge is power”.  Think about how to engage to gain beneficial insights and how this will shift the conversations in your business.  How will it impact your organizational structure?  How will it provide process improvement?  How will it improve employee productivity?

    What’s your perspective?



    What Inspires You?

    Peggy Dau - Friday, December 11, 2009

    I was thinking about this blog over the weekend (and during the week while recovering from stomach flu).  I was thinking about how I find inspiration for what I'm going to write.  It's been a bit of a process for me to grow comfortable sharing my thoughts in this manner.  As I thought about all the things I could write about in the digital media space, I realized that just the process of gaining inspiration is something that digital media facilitates.

    Whether it is personal or professional, we are all inspired by the thoughts of others.  I use the word inspired intentionally.  While many think of this word in a religious or spiritual context, it actually means "to stimulate somebody to do something".  In the business world, we are constantly seeking new ways to drive revenue and create new products or services.  The inspiration for many great businesses is difficult to identify or act upon.  Look at some of our greatest business leaders of the late 20th century (there are too many to count in the early part of the century!).  Steve Jobs.  What makes this man tick?  Fortune magazine just had him on their cover as CEO of the Decade, highlighting his unique approach to business, his attention to design detail and his ability to innovate.  Or Jeff Bezos at Amazon.  What started as an online model to sell books has turned into "the destination" for online shopping.  With acquisitions such as ShopBop or Zappos and investments in cloud computing, his online shopping empire continues to evolve and adapt.  Or, David Neeleman at JetBlue with is focus on customer first, simplifying the ticket buying and check-in process.  And, when they faced their flight cancelation debacle in the winter of 2008, they learned from their mistakes, adopted social media tools to stay in touch and listen to their customers and improve service.

    How do we find inspiration in the business world?  We often collaborate with our peers.  We chat about ideas and the feasibility of the market for these ideas.  We read industry journals, subscribe to RSS feeds, join online communities, capturing information and knowledge via as many channels as possible.  Is it becoming too much?  Is there too much information available?  Or, do we just need to organize it better?

    The benefits of many Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 solutions are in the ability for employees to more easily connect with their colleagues.  Once they have connected, there are many ways to collaborate online, eliminating challenges of distance and time zone.  They are able to open the conversation for others with similar interests, thus capturing more ideas, stimulating more thoughts, ultimately creating new products or services or processes.  Their online conversations can be saved, tagged and searched in the future instead of being a memory that one struggles to re-capture.  These conversations can stimulate new thoughts now and in the future. 

    In fact these solutions enable conversations outside and inside the corporation.  they can stimulate enhanced product design, help resolve customer support issues, generate viral marketing campaigns, inspire new business ventures or new business models.  My inspiration comes from the business, political, social, environmental world around me.  What inspires you?

    What's your perspective?





    A New Buzz Word: Employee Generated Content (EGC)

    Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 02, 2009

    I learned a new buzz word this week:  EGC or Employee Generated Content.  while this term is new to me, it is not new to the industry pundits.  EGC is the ability to easily create and distribute content to members of your company without transferring large files via email or file storage.  Apparently this term has been bandied about for the past 2 or so years.  While all of us are very familiar with the term UGC or user generated content, primiarly due to the pervasiveness of YouTube, the discussion of enterprise related content, generated and "broadcast" by employees within the firewall, is still somewhat new.

    Vendors such as Qumu are jumping on this bandwagon.  Recognizing that today's employees are familiar with the ability to upload video content to a video portal such as Youtube, means that companies need to start addresing the desire of employees to create and consume enterprise centric user generated content.  Imagine a content expert with the Flip or Kodak z18 mini camcorder, able to create high quality video explaining new technology, educating colleagues or demonstrating a new HR system.  Employee generated content can reduce production costs for enterprise business, attract innovative thinkers, create an alternate source for valuable content creation and increase employee participation in social collaboration, but it also creates new challenges.  These challenges range from consistent metadata standards, to incoporating EGC into enterprise intranet searches for content, to integration with existing content management platforms.

    As I mentioned in last week's blog, enterprises are broadcasting increasing volumes of content.  They are utilizing platforms and services, originally designed for media broadcast, such as encoding, editing, video workflow, video storage, content management and more.  It remains to be seen how EGC will be adopted by enterprise companies.  EGC vendors are not only providing employers with a means to tap into the employee social mindset, they integreate Will they establish policies for EGC?  Will they define target audiences for this content?  Will they restrict the type of content employees can create?  How will they manage this content?  How will it integreate with existing systems and IT infrastructure?  It's early days but exciting to think about how this can change the ways we connect, collaborate and communicate in business.

    What's your perspective?



    Cisco: taking networking to the human level

    Peggy Dau - Thursday, November 12, 2009


    Once upon a time, Cisco provided network products such as switches and routers.  They still do.  These are not necessarily exciting products, but they were (and still are) critical to facilitating the flow of content and information across private and public networks.  However, Cisco has long had a reputation for growing through acquisition.  In the past 10 years, these acquisitions have become very intriguing as Cisco perceived the impact that media could have at both the corporate and consumer levels.

    Cisco has a stated commitment to collaboration that incorporates video and social networking.  It is pervasive across the company through Cisco's focus on interoperability of its platforms, its R&D investments, standards leadership, acquisition strategy and partnerships.  Cisco has been building it's video management capabilities over the past 5+ years with a focus on capture, create, manage, edit and share video assets.  There capabilities run the gamut from the very high end (e.g., HD content encoding for broadcast) to the low end (e.g. consumer video capture) and the all the complex challenges that happen in between. 

    Tuesday, Cisco CEO and Chairman, John Chambers, spoke about Cisco's vision for collaboration.  This is a topic near and dear to my heart.  Having worked for a Fortune 50 technology company for many years, I was able to take advantage of various collaboration tools to connect, communicate and collaborate with my colleagues regardless of geographic distance.  I saw the evolution from proprietary corporate email to "standardized" email systems to the use of document management systems, virtual rooms, web conferencing and telepresence conferencing.  I personally saved many, many hours and dollars through the use of telepresence solutions.  However, the enterprise of tomorrow demands more than stand alone products, it requires integrated products to simplify collaboration and communication

    Cisco is leveraging its vast array of assets for unified communication, IP communication, presence, web conferencing and media asset management to address the increasing relevance and use of video plus the growing demand for enterprise social networking.  It's Enterprise Collaboration Platform, which integrates new social networking products with existing communication and conferencing platforms, allows emloyees to navigate an employee directory designed in the manner of a LinkedIn or Plaxo.  The difference is its incorporation of tags for both data and video content, enabling users to find people, data and video content relevant to the topic searched.  Of high interest is the ability to view professional (studio created) or casual (import from Flip) video content at the specific frame that discusses the search topic.

    It is clear that Cisco has a vision and is aligning its technology assets accordingly.  Cisco estimates the market opportunity to be $30B+ per year over the next 10 years.  Given Cisco's presence in the enterprise it will be interesting to see if they grab a significant share of the emerging enterprise investment in social media networking.  If nothing else, Cisco's announcements validate the investment and presence of the many small businesses that are emerging in this space. 

    What's your perspective?



    Finding the Needle in a Haystack

    Peggy Dau - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Have you ever been in a situation where you're pursuing a large opportunity and you need to tap a resource, any resource, that has won a similar deal or delivered a similar project?  How have you gone about finding those resources?  I know that in my former life at HP, I frequently saw sales and consulting leads trying to tap the collective knowledge at the company in order to succeed at an account.  It was like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack!




    I was in a global role that allowed me visibility across all geographic regions.  I had knowledge of the different types of deals that were in process and if a consultant in Asia was seeking advice from a colleague he/she would call or email me to see if I could connect them with someone with relevant experience
    Notice, I said CALL or EMAIL.  Yep, they picked up the phone or wrote an email asking for assistance.  Sometimes they just needed references.  Other times they wanted to understand the technology solution that had been proposed to a similar customer.  Other times they wanted to learn about the capabilities of our myriad of software partners.  Finding a relevant resource could take them hours, days and even weeks.  They and many others like them did not have access to solutions that allow them "broadcast" their needs to a general audience.

    The bottom line, was that there was no centralized system that allowed them to easily find colleagues with experiences they could tap into.  They had a database of customer wins, but many times these databases were regional in nature and not visible across geographic boundaries.  Additionally, these systems might have reflected outdated information.

    Why am I sharing these challenges?  It is the experience of having been the linchpin tying these geographically dispersed indivduals together that gave me the insight to recognize the value that social netorking platforms can bring to the enterprise.  Most companies have an internal directory that captures your basic details such as job role, organization, location and contact information.  Imagine that you can add incremental information such as knowlege of software systems and hardware platforms, previous roles, industry expertise, account relationships, special interests, personal interests.   Now imagine it is as easy to use as social networking platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook. 

    When we implement social media behind the firewall, we open the door to a new kind of collaborative communication.  Now, employees have the ability to broadcast their question.  For example, a solution architect in Poland is pursuing an opportunity with a small broadcast company.  He knows that his company has provided solutions to other broadcasters and he has searched the company intranet for information.  However, he just can't find the information he needs.  He knows he just needs some guidance - perhaps a 30 minute phone call.  Using an internal social networking platform he could post his questions and the collective community would be able to start providing answers.  The community, by its very nature, provides answers, links, contacts.  And, this information is available to the next person with the similar question.

    Think about your organization and how knowledge is shared.  I bet you have some kind of knowledge management program, formal (if you are a mediaum-large company) or informal (if you are a small business).  Are there inefficiencies?  Do you have a plan to tap into the collective knowledge resident within your employees?  Think about how social networking platforms can help you can improve collaboration, actively find and tap into resident knowledge and facilitate employee efficiency.

    What's your perspective? 



    Enterprise Social Computing - a real life example from Intel

    Peggy Dau - Monday, October 19, 2009




    There are seveal thought leaders in the use of social computing within the enterprise.  One, who has been very open in sharing their experience, is Intel.  We all know Intel as a leading technology company.  I am writing this blog on a laptop with Intel inside.  However, we may not instantly think of Intel as a leader in social computing.

    In fact, Intel began defining its social computing strategy and implementation roadmap in early 2008.  Like many companies, Intel was concerned that employees would become distracted by social networking platforms.  However, they also recognized that social computing could transform the way Intel employees connect with each other and lead to greater communication and collaboration. 

    Intel began by defining their top level business challenges.  Their challenges are similar to those expressed by small, medium and large businesses:  improve knowledge sharing, increase the speed of innovation, facilitate employeed learning, provide leadership and protect intellectual property.  With these challenges in hand, they established goals which their social computing strategy would have to address to be considered a successful strategy.  They also considered the need for governance, executive support and risk assessment.

    With a lot of information in hand, Intel then proceeded to define a variety of Proof-of-Concepts.  They wanted to be sure they understood the way that their various teams were currenlty communicating and collaboratin  so that any new solution would enhance the user experience.  This effort allowed them to clearly understand employee pain points. 

    Note, Intel had not yet discussed the technology.  It is important to focus on the company culture, goals, challenges and processes before beginning the technology discussion.  The architecture they selected reflects the needs of large enterprise businesses to integrate new social media tools with existing platforms and networks.    This addresses concerns about process, investment and employee adoption. 

    Intel has published a white paper with further information about their process and strategy evolution.  It's enlightening and validating.  I would encourage any business that is trying to figure out how they can implement social networking tools, behind the firewall, to check out this whitepaper and Intel's blogs on the topic.