Social enterprise tools and communal ways of working are getting more common amongst pioneering companies. However for most (especially small) companies, utilizing social collaboration tools and communal ways of going about doing one’s daily work is still quite sporadic and unorganized. According to a study by MarketVision Finnish companies increasingly use communal and social tools, but integrating their use within normal business processes still needs work.
The internet and high-speed connections has made the world a smaller place. Information technology and especially social media and and social collaboration tools have experienced a reneissance since the beginning of the second millennium. But what are social tools and communal ways of working really?
Firstly, I understand ”social & collaborative tools” to be digital tools that enable dynamic interaction and free exchange of information and knowledge between many knowledge workers in an organization regardless of time and location of said knowledge workers. Be it collaboratively editing a powerpoint, writing an article communally using shared documents or identifying people with certain needed skills from within an organization.
Secondly, ”communal ways of working” I understand to mean knowledge work that is organized in a way that recognizes the social nature of knowledge and the importance of utilizing the collective power of the organizations employees tacit knowledge, often with digital tools that enable people to interact and co-work over physical barriers like being on different sides of the globe.
To these categories fall a mötley crew of different tools, services and principles of organizing and managing knowledge work. To name a few commonplace application of these that probably the majority of people have heard of: Google Apps, Dropbox, Yammer, Stack Overflow, Trello, Skype, Google Hangouts. These are tools that work equally in leisure time activities than in business. However, there are tools that are suited, or developed especially to business and industrial companies. These social tools include for example social CAD-modelling and project management tools: MyCadBox, M-files for Autocad, Sunglass, GrabCAD workbench, Autodesk Vault, 4Projects, GrabCAD.
There are also novel tools that can generate (and have generated) totally new kinds of business. These include new social phenomena like crowdsourcing, collective intelligence and wisdom of crowds. By including the users in the value creation process one can create new ways of doing business. This also extends beyond crowdsourcing applications. The environment businesses operate in today, is getting more and more social and interactive; businesses need to keep up with this development. This, however, is a topic for another post altogether.
All in all, social media and social collaborative tools have evolved from being extravagant toys of few pioneering people & companies to an intricate new way of carrying out knowledge work and ensuring that information is shared, great work gets done, and the organization operates efficiently. Their role is changing from being a nice plus to a few to being integrated in the normal business processes and forming the basis of normal workflow of many companies. I consider myself lucky to have seen the evolution of this evolution from the beginning. I don’t think we have have reached maturity yet, we’re just hitting puberty; it’s a thrilling time to be working with and researching social media and social business phenomena.
In my upcoming posts, I’m going to give my take on how social media, social enterprise tools and communal ways of working can be used to make knowledge work more efficient, productive and enjoyable. I’m also going to be talking about using social media in content marketing of academic research. Stay tuned!
Learn more about the productivity of knowledge work at NOVI Research Center