Social collaboration is about the Us of User Experience

Social collaboration is about the Us of User Experience

There are numerous reasons why collaboration – and increasingly social collaboration – matters. Saving costs is one, for instance by lowering travel expenses. Increased productivity is another. And then there’s the fact that the ability to collaborate often comes from within the organization and your workers in these days of consumerization and BYOD.

Hundreds of analysts and reports look at all the benefits of collaboration and that’s a good thing. It’s important to look at all aspects of collaboration, the technologies, the impact on all areas of the business, etc. However, sometimes it’s good to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Why does collaboration really matter? And what does it take to succeed? There is a lot of attention for one area of collaboration, social collaboration. It’s de facto the main area what social business in the broader sense is all about today. It’s clear that the growing use of social technologies and principles for business, has boosted the overall attention for collaboration.

One of the key success factors is to develop a collaboration strategy in a collaborative way and within a collaborative mindset and culture. It seems obvious but how often is it really done?

Collaboration: the individual, the community and the organization

Social collaboration is part of the bigger enterprise collaboration and unified communications (UC&C) puzzle of the real-time economy where everything gets connected. Yet, there is a lot to learn from social collaboration as, by definition, is social.

Social collaboration is about people. It’s about empowering workers in a people-centric way to effectively collaborate, a second key success factor. The same goes for customers, partners and whatever stakeholders are involved. Collaboration isn’t possible without this people-centric collaborative culture, taking into account the realities of the collaborators.

The opposite is true as well: enabling people to collaborate and providing them the space and structure to work together fosters a collaborative culture. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and if the pudding tastes well, others will want to give it a try. As Bruce Richardson, Chief Enterprise Strategist at Salesforce.com rightfully said: collaboration works best when it is situational

A collaborative culture doesn’t mean that everything needs to happen in a collaborative way. It means that individuals with ideas and initiatives have the space and possibilities to connect and find internal and hybrid communities in which they can grow. It’s about speed and facilitation. While all this may sound fluffy, it’s simply based on real-life social collaboration lessons learned along the way.

You don’t get a collaborative mindset nor become a collaborative organization overnight. That’s why it matters to let it grow: bottom-up, top-down, lateral, you name it. The DNA of social collaboration and social community needs this space to grow. It’s like coral.

A collaborative and customer-centric culture directly impacts net profit

And that brings me to my point about the main reason why collaboration really matters. Scaling collaboration initiatives leads to a collaborative culture and this directly impacts the net profit of your organization. You lower costs and enhance productivity. But, more importantly, you create stronger relationships with your business partners and customers. And, most importantly, you sell more. Why? Because “Collaboration is a defining attribute of World-Class Sales Organizations”. Just take a look at the 2013 Miller Heiman Sales Best Practices Study.

World-Class Sales Organizations have three ‘defining’ attributes:

  • A collaborative culture.
  • Customer-centricity (or having the customer at the core).
  • Being calibrated for success.
Collaboration is a key trait of world-class organizations - source PDF

Collaboration is a key trait of world-class organizations – source (PDF opens)

And guess what? The latter two are very much about collaboration as well. Because, in the end, a true customer-centric organization is one that continuously improves and fosters a collaborative culture.

A quote from the Miller Heiman report, which you can access without registration here:

“World-Class Sales Organizations have tightly aligned their Sales and Marketing organizations and are able to clearly articulate their value from their customers’ perspective, which improves growth in qualified opportunities.”

Customer-centricity, collaboration, communication, community, listening, empowering people and the bottom line, it’s all connected.

Disclaimer: the author works as a consultant for BT Global Services.