There are strong risks related to delaying or not implementing efforts to embed the use of collaborative technologies within normal flows of work. Competitors moving more quickly towards adopting Social Business ways of working (through the use of collaborative technologies and the accomplishments they generate) will soon have a distinct competitive advantage. Because the benefits of Social Business require a fundamental change in the way employees work, simply installing software will not be enough to realize its value. Unlike the .com boom of the 1990s, companies falling behind or waiting to begin Social Business efforts will not be able to buy their way back in. Installing collaborative technologies and using them as a “water cooler” application to promote awareness of corporate events doesn’t make your company a social business in 2011. The novelty of wikis in the workplace is over. It’s now the degree to which your company can move its “work in progress” to transparent, enterprise, participatory, searchable platforms which ultimately reflects the degree to which your company is “social” in the way it executes its business and serves its customers.
The thrust of this comment, from Susan’s post about Lowe’s pay off from investing in a social intranet, reminds me very much of what I wrote in my 2004 chapter for Knowledge Management Tools and Techniques. My chapter was titled, Online Collaboration Tools, Knowledge Managers, and a Cooperative Culture. I said then:
Online collaboration is perhaps the most demanding e-business strategy to attempt, but it is also the strategy that is most likely to provide your organisation with a competitive advantage. This is because the development of the capability to collaborate online takes more than just the right technology, and if you make the investment this is not something that can be easily replicated by your competitors.