How social networking creates a collaboration culture

Thanks to Facebook, people have become willing to share information, creating a workplace culture ready for collaboration. But CIOs need to deploy the right tools.

Remember knowledge management? In the 1990s, KM emerged as a way to collect and share expertise across a company. Employees would fill out profiles for a database about their skills and knowledge. Colleagues could query the system to find the best person to help with a project.

Pooling employee brainpower, KM proponents said, would speed up and refine how a company operates by facilitating collaboration. But KM never swept the corporate nation. People would forget to update their profiles, or find doing so too cumbersome, and the database would become less useful. For KM to work, people have to want to capture, catalog and share what they know.

Now advanced collaboration tools, combined with a fresh mind set about sharing inspired by social networking, are reviving KM, says Spencer Mains, CTO with Landor and B to D, two divisions of the branding and design firm WPP. The company recently deployed software from PBworks to let employees in 15 countries collaborate on client accounts. While they chat and share documents, the system archives the information and conversations. "When it's part of the everyday process, you solve the problem of KM," Mains says. "You capture knowledge as it happens."

Collaborating this way presents challenges, however, says John Poulin, director and principal solution architect at Huron Consulting Group. If the reason to collaborate is to improve decision making, CIOs will have to integrate collaboration tools with e-mail, business process management and analytics applications.

Share and Share AlikeYou and half a billion other people know Facebook as a place to connect with friends online. But inside the company, its tools provide the linchpin for corporate growth, says Facebook's Director of IT Tim Campos.

Social networking has made it easy for people to share information about themselves, and now that comfort is shifting to the workplace. Campos, who joined Facebook from semiconductor-maker KLA-Tencor last year, says company culture influences whether collaboration projects will succeed.

The key is social context, he says. Tools that facilitate social interaction-such as sharing weekend plans-while allowing users to get work done promote collaboration, Campos says.

A KM project he worked on at KLA-Tencor had mixed results, he says, partly because the engineers saw adding to the knowledge database as too much work. "It was like going to a meeting for no other purpose than to have people pick your brain. You get nothing out of it."

But at Facebook, employees live in the collaboration tools, Campos says, launching them when they boot up their computers every day.

Collaboration works best when employees can tap many information sources, Poulin says. That way, like-minded groups of people can gather online, exchange data, and disband when the work is done. However, Poulin adds, popular collaboration products such as Microsoft SharePoint and the Oracle Collaboration Suite aren't easy to integrate with other vendors' products.

Collaboration tools that can't incorporate information from, say, an analytics dashboard won't help a company make better decisions faster, agrees Campos. Enabling that scenario, he says, "will become what we dreamed of for KM."

Follow Senior Editor Kim S. Nash on Twitter: @knash99.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags applicationssoftwarecollaboration

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Kim S. Nash

CIO (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?