Published on March 3, 2014
How to Benefit from Improving Business Communication Ashish Belagali © Acism Software Private Limited, Pune, India Twitter: @Ashish1IT @kommbox
Introduction: Ashish Belagali IIT Bombay: B. Tech 1992, M. Tech. 1995 Experience in software making, management, leadership Heads Acism Software Pvt Ltd Leads POCC. Ex-BNI, TiE Interests: Music, Nature, Spiritualism
Agenda 1. Motivation 2. Business Communication Roundup 3. How to choose a tool 4. How to implement 5. Antipatterns
Communication is Omnipresent Consequently, an improvement in communication may affect many areas of your organization positively.
Perspective Communication Improvement Communication Skill Improvement - Well discussed - Many consultants available Communication Process Improvement - Evolving area - Not well understood - High potential - Sustainable impact
Communication System Upgrade ? - Enriching – opening new possibilities - Impacting our lifestyle - Competitive advantage
Email is Badly Broken Many organizations have people who receive 100+ emails everyday. How much productivity can we expect from them? - Context switching time - Fatigue - Sheer amount of time wasted Theirry Breton – Atos CEO (2011) ――[E]mail is no longer the appropriate tool. It is time to think differently.‖ Peter Allan (2011) ―Mr. Breton pointed to a recent study by the business watchdog ORSE, which reads: Reading useless messages is terrible for concentration, as it takes 64 seconds to get back on the ball after doing so. Poorly controlled, the e-mail can become a devastating tool.‖ ―‗The deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face,‘ said Mr Breton.‖ ⚓
Communications are Always HOT Customer Relationship Management Knowledge Management Project Management thru Collaboration Document Sharing Enterprise 2.0 / Enterprise social Enterprise collaboration Task Management
Expert Advice Experts differ widely Example: Enterprise 2.0 Market Size estimations - Gartner: 945 million (2011) → 2 billion (2016) - Cisco CTO: 34 billion - IDC: 1.6 billion - Forrestor: 4.6 billion - MIT sloan grad: 110 billion ⚓⚓⚓ ..and often go wrong Deloitte (June 2013): Over 90% of Fortune 500 companies will have a partially or fully implemented ESN by the end of 2013 McKinsey (Nov 2013): Rate of adoption in industry is far lower. ⚓⚓
Why? Jacob Margan and Wendy Troupe explain: ―If you asked ten executives to define Enterprise 2.0 or Social Media or Social Business, you‘d probably get ten different answers,‖ ―Right now, we‘re in the early stages of this category and people are just not sure about the potential. ― ―Social Media and Enterprise 2.0 are still very new and part of an ill-defined space — a space whose internal boundaries remain fuzzy. ― ⚓
Grand Successes For long proponents put forth great arguments in favor of using ESNs. However the benefits were perceived mostly as intangible. However, Andrew Borg published research findings of 629 companies (Nov 2013) which show impressive numbers. ⚓
Grand Failures CIOs voted Enterprise Social Tools as the most overhyped technology of the year 2013. Chris Heuer (Oct 2013) ⚓ ⚓ ―it is time to proclaim that Social Business is dead, or at least dying before our very eyes.‖ ―The words Social Business have not struck the right chord with leaders. The movement has failed to earn their faith, trust and budgets in a significant way.‖ Gartner (Jan 2014) ⚓ 80 Percent of Social Business Efforts Will Not Achieve Intended Benefits Through 2015
Why the Diversity? Diversity Some get it - Understand the space - Map tools to their needs - Manage the implementation Some don't - 6 Antipatterns Bertrand Duperrin (Jan 2014) ―Focus on philosophy, not technology.‖ ⚓
Motivation of This Talk ? Email is broken. The challenges are real. Great benefits await you – if you manage to dodge failures. It is not hard to get it. - No rocket science We need a different mindset to deal with it. Let's cut through the hype and use common-sense – that's what successful companies did.
Business Communication Roundup
Business Communication External world With external world Within branches HO Internal to a branch Branch1 Branch2
Tools to Fix Email What They Are Attempt to fix email system where it appears to be broken. – Following a path of least resistance Sometimes, it's about imposing some rules. Sometimes, it's about adding intelligence. Tools Gmail Shortmail Limiting number of recipients Group email ids MS Xchange, Mithi, Zimbra
Document Sharing Systems What They Are Ability to share documents with others. Not all documents have the same access rights. Documents may be versioned. Tools Dropbox Google drive
Task Management Systems What They Are Focus on improving the accountability through giving better task management infrastructure and views Central unit is a task, tracked by status, due date etc. Tools Asana Trello
Project Management thru Collaboration What They Are Project Management systems which help you track project progress through collaboration – as opposed to traditional hard approach. Central unit is a project -- within which tasks, discussions and schedules are tracked. Tools Basecamp ActiveCollab
Knowledge Management Systems What They Are Create a long term knowledge asset for the organization. Let employees create knowledge content and classify it based on taxonomies. Emphasis on knowledge curation. A continuous challenge is converting tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge and encouraging people to share it. Tools Varied
Customer Relationship Management What They Are Catering to communication needs of marketing / sales. Maintain a database of leads / opportunities at various stages, and communicate with them. Tools Salesforce Bitrix Zoho CRM
Customer Support What They Are Ticketing systems, which allow customers to raise tickets and internal team to access, work on and close those tickets. Each ticket has a unique id, and status updates are made visible to the customers through email / portal. Tools osTicket Zendesk
Enterprise Collaboration What They Are Let teams of employees collaboratively create documentation that is of use to the organization. Employees are given ro / rw accesses to different parts of the collaborative documentation. Tools Confluence Mediawiki Google docs
Enterprise Social Networks What They Are Attempt to replicate the success of social media within an enterprise. ―Facebook for enterprise‖ approach Tools Yammer Jive
Intranets What They Are Internal portal for employees enabling HR and communication. Typical communications channels are email, chat, PM. Integration with other enterprise tools. Tools Typically custom-built
Comprehensive Tools What They Are A single tool usable across different purposes. Possible either through extensive configurability or inbuilt flexibility. The only contenders to take away the catch-all aspect of email. Tools Sharepoint Kommbox
How to Choose a Tool
Understanding Your Needs Communication is an important element of the organizational culture. => The communication styles, philosophies, expectations vary highly - from geography to geography - from sector to sector - from organization to organization Do you understand what will work / what will not work in your organization?
Small is Beautiful Choose a tool that is - Not hard to configure - Can assist in your immediate use scenario - Can grow with you Do not fall into the feature trap. Understand the philosophy of the tool.
How Many Tools? Using a single comprehensive tool has benefits vs using multiple special purpose tools - Cost concerns - Integration concerns - Data fragmentation concerns - User confusion concerns Counterview
How to Implement
Create Consensus Organization-wide consensus of how the tool will be used. Create champions in different departments.
Top Management Support Active Support from Top Management is crucial You cannot leave it entirely to the employees. There needs to be a clear mandate about using the tool.
Adopt Quickly Experiment on pilot scale (optional) Adopt quickly in the organization A low-scale implementation has larger chances of failure.
Monitor & Change Champions to monitor the use and benefits Change the direction as warranted Easy to make changes early enough.
The “Feature-heaviness” Antipattern The CEO wants the organization to be cutting edge (sometimes due to the hype surrounding ESN) and a small group gets the responsibilty to choose the enterprise collaboration tool. The group creates a long list of features (wiki for something, discussion forum for something else, task management for yet another thing etc), and recommends a tool which is the most feature rich. The company ends up spending high amount of money in the product and expensive consultancy that is needed to configure the product. Further, the organization finds it tough to get its employees use the tool because of its complexity (see the Confusion antipattern), and the implementation fails. Bertrard Duperrin warns organization against taking such feature-centric approach
The “Confusion” Antipattern The product features create a confusion in the minds of end users. For example, when a user wants to add a piece of knowledge, she gets confused whether she should create a discussion in the discussion forum or create a wiki page. In the absence of clear guidelines, the users would use their own discretion which will eventually lead to the ―conflict‖ antipattern. The confusion would create a heterogeneous use of the tool and ultimately the exercise becomes fruitless.
The “Conflict” Antipattern CEO asks the employees to use a tool and the employees start using it. Many people from different departments try to figure out the tool and make the best use of it for themselves and their departments. When these efforts are not coordinated, expectation mismatch between the departments emerges after a while. If not corrected in time, this results in fragmentation in the way it is used and ultimately the whole purpose of using a common platform is lost.
The “Disinterest” Antipattern The CEO asks a team to evaluate a product. Unless there is a committed product champion whose KRA aligns with the product use, the product remains unused. The people say they want to evaluate it, but they never find time to do so. Without a commitment from anyone and zero push from top management, the steam runs out. Many times it happens because nobody wants to take the initiative. Everyone wants someone else to start, or maybe that the tool would bring about some magical improvements on its own. It doesn‘t, and the implementation dies out.
The “Overuse” Antipattern With a zeal, a collaboration tool gets adopted. Everyone puts in a lot of updates and there is a lot of interaction. People are happy about the successful implementation and some examples of collaboration happening over the platform are seen as success signs. The conversations on the platform start slipping into a more casual mode, and signal-to-noise ratio starts going down. A realization slowly dawns that people are spending way too much time with the collaboration tool and they get less time for work. By this time, the tool is so much embedded into organization‘s work patterns that it could be too late to return.
The “Misfit” Antipattern Some times, the failure is attributed to a misfit between the organizational culture and the tool. Many experts profess that the ―social‖ effect needs a near flat structure in an organization, and no topic should be a taboo. Many organizations find it difficult or impractical to make these changes. Many times, the social principles seem to contrast with something that is deeply ingrained into the organizational culture. When misfit occurs, the quality of discussions / updates that happen over the ESN is perceived as low, and they seem to help no one. For some time, companies push the implementation with the hope that something may come out. But eventually, in absence of any good benefits, the implementation dies. The two sides (one promoting change in company culture and the other opposing it) keep debating endlessly.
Questions? Happy Communicating! Ashish Belagali Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @Ashish1IT @kommbox LinkedIn: http://in.linkedin.com/in/belagali/
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