The context to collaboration and knowledge sharing

The last few years can be described as the age of social business and collaboration. The demands and expectations of today’s knowledge workers have been shaped by the plethora of social networks and social media tools. Communicating and sharing information has never been easier.  Staying connected with news and status updates from friends, family, or at work is real-time and no longer constrained to an office PC.  This has coincided with the business realisation that a greater degree of interaction with customers, whether consumers or businesses, makes for a higher degree of customer retention.

Ironically, in many cases, workplace policy and technology constraints have meant that staff resort to using the technology they have brought with them in their pockets or handbags in order to remain connected with their networks.  The ubiquity of mobile devices and ease of use of many web services means that almost anyone can originate or contribute to digital content, and information is increasingly consumed on the move. Recent analysis shows that we spend 110 billion minutes on social networks and blog sites per month, or 22 percent of all time is spent on-line. And the expectation now is that the tools that people use at work should be as easy and fun to use as the ones they use in their personal life.

But is this tsunami of data and information making us better informed? How do we overcome information overload and ensure the relevance and utility of the information we consume? Can we provide environments that tap into the collective intelligence of groups or knowledge domains that match our specific needs?

Enterprise Social Software (ESS) is the next generation of platforms that are built to manage high volumes of collaborative engagement and conversations among distributed teams, project groups or communities of practice. They build on the conceptual ideas of popular social networking platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, but with a host of enterprise-ready features to make them secure, private, collaborative and business integration-friendly.

What is Enterprise Social Software?

“…a system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise”. Source: Wikipedia

As many organisations have discovered, implementing a technology solution by itself rarely results in more effective collaboration and knowledge sharing.  Sustainable implementation of ESS requires:

  1. Understanding of how and why successful knowledge-sharing communities and networks perform.
  2. A system that implicitly acknowledges the constraints (time, process) and motivations (reciprocity, reward) that individuals experience within such networks.
  3. A blended approach where technology seamlessly supports the behavioural characteristics that will encourage users to self-organize, collaborate and co-create.

And what about the investment in ICT systems that organisations have made over the past decade? The good news is that it’s not a matter of ripping out legacy systems, but extending what you have, adding new capabilities and integrating new applications and services.

The offer

Collabor8now  provides independent advice and practical expertise in the development and support of knowledge sharing communities and Enterprise Social Software Solutions. We work with enlightened individuals who wish to build sustainable success through the liberation of knowledge within their organisations.

We can provide training and support in the development and deployment of Communities of Practice and other collaboration networks, utilising a blend of social networking techniques and social computing tools (sometimes referred to as ‘Enterprise 2.0 and/or Web 2.0).

We also provide training courses on social media and social networking for personal knowledge management (PKM) and personal development. Not to be confused with social media training for marketing and communications – sorry, but you’ll have to go elsewhere for that!

Stephen Dale

Stephen is the founder & co-director of Collabor8Now with 30+ years experience in Business Consulting and Corporate Management.

He is a passionate community and collaboration ecologist, creating off-line and on-line environments that foster conversations and engagement. Stephen’s considerable experience as an information and knowledge management professional has enabled him to blend technology solutions with an in-depth understanding of behavioural characteristics that encourage people to self-organize, collaborate and co-create.

He is both an evangelist and practitioner in the use of collaborative technologies and Social Media applications to support personal learning and knowledge sharing.

He was the business lead and information architect for the local government community of practice platform, the largest and most advanced online practitioner group in the UK public sector. More than just an IT solution, the Knowledge Hub is a far-sighted resource that could lead to a major cultural change in the public sector.

Stephen’s current and previous clients include: Advanced Workplace Associates, Creative Partnerships, 3i plc, Crest Advisory, Reuters Ltd, CNNIC, Papillon Technology, East Kent Hospitals University Trust, Kent County Council, East Lindsey District Council, the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP), the Cabinet Office, the Home Office, Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR, now BIS), the Central Office of Information (COI), the Office for National Statistics (ONS), The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS, now BIS), the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the Local Government Improvement and Development (LGID, part of LGA) and London Deanery.

He was also a part-time facilitator for Warwick Business School’s “Innovation Network“, with specific responsibility for Enabling Technologies.

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