Large and small business/organisations are looking to adopt a successful Internal Social Business Strategy. They are attempting to leverage the power of collaboration using online social platforms, but without the necessary tools or knowledge to effectively plan their strategy.
Here I will attempt to lay-out some of the processes required for the successful implementation of such a strategy plus give an example from the Pharma Sector.
One issue all businesses/orgs must face is that the process has to begin internally, people are going to have to deal with innovation and change and lots of it.
Management have to communicate clearly and consistently with all members of their internal community at the discovery and strategy planning stage. People dislike change, they fear it, this is a natural survival instinct. As Victor Maslow explained in his Hierarchy of Needs, people have layers of issues which need to be in place for them to develop and participate.
- Physiological needs, such as food, clothing and shelter.
- Safety and security, this covers issues such as family, social stability and employment.
- Loving and belonging, which includes, family, friendship and sense of connection.
- Self-esteem, such as confidence, respect of others.
- Self actualization, which includes creativity, meaning and inner potential.
For any business strategy, that requires change to succeed you have to obtain the by-in of key “change advocates” on your internal team. If companies inform their entire internal community of the objectives and the benefits this new social strategy brings, the advocates will help others around them to be more accepting of the proposed change.
If management try to implement the strategy by stealth or give ownership to one department, say marketing, silos will re-appear. For this to succeed it has to be cross company/organisation, cross department and the implementation team has to represent all departments.
Internal Collaboration is the Key to “Improved Innovation” IBM Report
A 2003 report by IBM’s Institute for Business Value was commissioned on internal collaboration in the Pharmaceutical Industry. The results proved that internal collaboration improved efficiency across all areas of research including the research required to introduce innovation, i.e.new drugs. By introducing a system that allowed collaboration called the “Inter-Therapeutic Model” collaboration led to faster and better results.
“The inter-therapeutic model enables scientists—biologists, chemists, pharmacologists/ toxicologists – in different therapeutic areas, but often the same scientific discipline, to
What this means is that big pharmaceuticals companies can innovate and bring new drugs to the market faster, but this new collaboration also helped them to eliminate silos. Where the report is out of date is in the technology sector. The method of sharing the research was “new virtual meeting tools” and “ask the expert”. Now they can have much more efficient secure internal Enterprise ready platforms, such as Yammer, Jive or Chatter from Sales Force.
Embedding Social into all the company’s processes
To remove the silos, a user friendly social platform has to be introduced. It allows all internal community members to learn from one another. A product like Yammer or Jive will allow employees to converse, share documents and locate business critical information quickly and easily. Email is not efficient to allow the level of collaboration the internal community needs.
In the example given above the inter-therapeutic model:
- The scientists were encouraged to share research data across sectors, biologists, chemists, pharmacologists/toxicologists – this was a break thru, a silo buster.
- This resulted in Multi-Directional Expressive Capability (MDEC) across different therapeutic disciplines, which was not the norm prior to this report.
Having business critical data in easy reach, helps efficiency
The sharing of research results can have other benefits such as was the case with Viagra. Pfizer’s block-buster drug was originally developed to help heart disease, not erectile dysfunction. While I am sure there are many people ill with heart disease that are wishing for a cure. The amount of men and women thankful for the collaboration which resulted in the Pfizer Riser being developed, is far higher. This was a case of pooled research, internal collaboration. The research data can be stored securely on the internal social platform, with-in easy reach of those who need it.
As people get comfortable with the MDEC model, internal communities will form for:
- common interests,
- managing the running of departments,
- arranging social events.
On the internal platform discussion threads can be started on
- all the process that are required for the daily running and management of a company.
As people load their profiles, faces can be put to conversations and relationships grow within the communities. The result is improved profitability for the companies, but most important for the people involved in the process, they are intrinsically motivated by the results and improved work experience.
Internal collaboration using enterprise social platforms, leads to innovation due to the employees being intrinsically motivated. This in turn leads to raised efficiency levels and reduced costs, hence higher profits. What’s not to like?