Social technologies can help drive tangible value for the company through: product development, knowledge sharing, increasing collaboration, operations and distribution, marketing and sales, customer service, business support, reduction in travel expenditures, reduction in costs, reduction in time it takes to complete a project, etc. (Li, 2010; Vellmure, n.d.; Wollan, Smith, & Zhou, 2010). Thus, if employee collaboration increases through social technologies, it would help drive tangible value to the company making it an important part of any future business strategy.
Employee collaboration does not automatically increase within the organization when social technologies are set up because each employee has a different work style, ethic, values, and set of beliefs (Wollan et al., 2010). The organization must change the culture to embrace social technology, by having social technology champions to help bring the resisters into the fold (Li, 2010; Wollan et al., 2010). Wollan et al. (2010), suggested three techniques close the gap between resistors and advocates of social technology:
- Building a rapid knowledge sharing toolkit on the social technology, because it is critical for all employees to learn what they need to about a project or on a specific topic in the context of the company. It should be an easy tool, where information and people can be found quite effortlessly.
- Set standards and requirements to encourage the social technology’s use through annual performance reviews of each employee and having feedback loops to help improve the social technology and its content. Restructuring how rewards and incentives around metrics are key.
- Change initiatives are most successful when middle management is involved and become sponsors and advocates for social technology tools. So, who do we pick to be social technology champions in the company to help out middle managers? Usually, it would be highly motivated employees regardless of their status in the company.
As the second technique suggests, an example of some of measuring employee engagement in social technology metrics could be word of mouth scores, resolution scores, frequency and value of support, the size of the employees’ network, productivity scores, etc. (Li, 2010; Wollan et al., 2010).
Li (2010), states that there will always be a naysayer to change and one of the toughest reasons that they would give would be that the change is “too risky.” However, that is why the role of the champion is needed, to help change this mentality of social technology being “too risky” (Li, 2010; Wollan et al., 2010). This mentality stems from they either not trusting people enough and if that is the case encourage the naysayer by talking about building a sandbox version of the technology before full deployment (Li, 2010).
Finally, Wollan et al. (2010) suggested that the best social technologies to introduce to a company to increase collaboration and engagement among employees are a desktop technology with an implementation plan on how to make it an enterprise-wide knowledge repository. Subsequently, the social technology should be easily implemented, searchable, accessible, and usable. This is because people do not have enough time in the world to make their normal statement of work along with learning some new complicated piece of technology they are resistant to learn in the first place.