Social Network Analysis – understanding your communities

Everyone is talking about the enormous benefits to be had through collaborative working and better employee engagement. Industry analysts report a 25% improvement in organisational efficiency when companies successfully deploy a collaboration platform. Whether it’s social media or social collaboration, organisations are striving to deliver better value through a more connected workforce and closer engagement with customers and stakeholders. The term ‘social business’ nicely sums up this important development. The paradox is that organisations continue to allocate a significant proportion of their IT budgets on communications infrastructure and ‘social software’ and virtually nothing on systems and tools that can analyse how effective this investment is.

While companies know that social networks are important, most managers don’t understand how these networks really work. These social networks don’t appear on any formal organisation charts, yet can significantly affect performance and innovation. The problems is, how can leaders manage what they can’t see? Find our how Social Network Analysis (SNA) can make the ‘invisible, visble’. Having a better understanding of how your networks work is the first step in achieving more effective knowledge flows and improving workplace efficiency.

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Overcoming The Obstacles To Enterprise Collaboration

So, your organisation has taken the plunge and invested in a shiny new enterprise social media platform. Everyone is talking about the enormous benefits to be had through collaborative working and better employee engagement. At last, you can throw off the shackles of that email inbox and really start to become more productive. But is this vision we’re being sold by the social technology vendors actually being realised, or is life just a bit more complicated than that? The answer – as usual – lies somewhere in between. This article describes some of the barriers to change on the transitional journey to becoming a “knowledge organisation”. Understanding the potential barriers will give you greater insight on how they can be overcome.

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Communities of Practice in Local Government

Theme: Web2.0, Collaboration & Communities

Learning Points

  1. Moving from a culture of knowledge repositories (people to information) to one of knowledge collaboration (people to people).
  2. Introducing a sceptical and mature staff demographic to the concept of virtual collaboration using Social Computing/Web 2.0 facilities.
  3. How to create, develop and grow trusted communities of practice in local government.


The past five years have seen significant changes across the local government sector. The need to meet stringent targets for performance and efficiency as part of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, and the huge investment in technology driven by central government’s ‘e-government’ strategy have indeed led to improvement across the sector. However, as many councils have found, digitising assets, developing new web sites and investment in EDRM have not always delivered the improvements they were hoping for. On the contrary, the proliferation of web sites across the sector has only served to encourage a silo mentality in many authorities, making life far more difficult for staff to find, use and share information and knowledge.

There is a growing realisation that, coupled with the reduction in central government funding, the tipping point has arrived, and that any further efficiency and service improvements can only be delivered by smarter working and making more effective use of tacit knowledge to drive innovation.

This was the catalyst for a new KM strategy developed for the Improvement & Development Agency (IDeA) to improve the way that councils connect and share knowledge with each other. By supporting communities of practice and networks across local government, the IDeA is promoting the potential of knowledge management as a tool for continuous and sustainable improvement. The strategy encourages knowledge to be shared and maintained across local, regional and national boundaries and supports the development of public sector policy and innovation.

The key challenge was motivating and educating a predominantly mature and sceptical staff demographic on the merits of social computing and Web 2.0 technologies that could support virtual communities of practice.

This was largely achieved through regular training events and the development of a purpose-designed virtual collaboration platform , which integrates a number of Web2.0 tools into a common workspace. Low barriers to entry, simplicity and ease of use were the key criteria in the design of the platform, which was launched in September 2006. By December 2011 over 2,000 communities of practice had been established and over 100,000 users had registered on the site. For many, this is a completely new way of working, where knowledge flows are unhindered by status or hierarchies.

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Utilising Web 2.0 in local government

Describes how Web 2.0 is helping councils to connect and engage with their citizens and how new and innovative services are being developed by both public and private sectors using this new technology.

Web 2.0 is opening up new opportunities for local and central government to provide more citizen-centric services using cost effective technologies. Innovation in the private sector is making Web 2.0 tools easier to use and cheaper to deploy. Social networking and use of social media tools is fast becoming ubiquitous; the question that most councils now face is when rather than if to embrace Web 2.0 facilities. How and why should local authorities be planning to exploit the collaborative features of Web 2.0 technologies? Feature for IT Adviser Magazine.

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Utlising Web2.0 in local government – IT Adviser Oct2008




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