Can “Social” Be One Key to Operational Excellence?

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We used to think of the word “social” as face-to-face interaction among friends. But for anyone who uses a computer, mobile phone or online social network, it is obvious that social technology is here to stay. It permeates our lives. It’s a new social driven by 24/7 connectivity, seemingly instantaneous gratification and “friends” defined by who connects with you on Facebook or becomes a follower on Twitter.

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To realize positive benefits, an organization must think through how to use these powerful social communications tools to improve operational excellence.

How do these ubiquitous social media tools impact our on-the-job performance? If properly implemented, social tools can have a profound impact on our productivity, our culture, our professional effectiveness and our business performance.

Social tools can help us communicate quickly and effectively with customers and colleagues, cut across organizational barriers, foster leadership transparency during times of change, and facilitate a quick response in crisis situations. It’s not about flirting with social media, but about using the tools as a technological enabler for helping people do their work more effectively in alignment with the company’s business goals.

However, to realize positive benefits, an organization must think through how to use these powerful social communications tools to improve operational excellence. Outlining a plan to implement social enterprise intelligence is beyond the scope of this article, but here are a few things to consider:

Employees are familiar with the toolset.

While not everyone is a social media maven, many if not most people are already using a smart phone with texting and Internet access. Facebook is projected to have roughly one billion users. Twitter has more than 500 million users. There are more than 800 million users on YouTube with more than four billion views per day. Social media is not a fad. My guess is, the people who work in your company are already using social media.

Your customers are online.

What’s better than communicating with your customers where they are and in the way they want to interact? Having your employees actively engage with customers using social media channels is a great way to provide customer service, resolve issues and identify possible customer issues before they get out of hand.

Social Communications cuts across organizational barriers.

When we look across the social networks, we see very few degrees of separation between diverse groups and individuals. What does that mean in the workplace? Imagine the departmental and organizational silos being less of a barrier. Imagine people being able to communicate with whomever they need to by using an informal online network of experts who have access to a broad range of knowledge and information. What is the impact of an in-house company version of Facebook or Twitter, where a networked group of employees can access others with similar interests that cut across organizational lines? Problems get solved quicker. People who participate get social recognition from their peers. Work gets done through the collective wisdom of the larger team. Knowledge disconnect, a huge waste in organizations, is reduced or eliminated.

What do the numbers tell us?

With social business, the numbers are a result of monitoring and analytics; what you track depends on your business goals and objectives. In marketing and branding, market trends can be identified and campaigns can be measured. In manufacturing and supply chain, product quality issues can be spotted. The list goes on.

To realize the best impact from social tools, it is critical to align social tools, processes and activities with the company’s business objectives. While technology can never substitute for real face-to-face human interaction in the workplace, social enterprise tools can have a profound impact on effective operations. Are you using “social” to help your business?

 

Additional Reading

How to Achieve Operational Excellence in Your Supply Chain

The social media party: Your success/reputation depends on it

 

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