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Collaboration at Work: If You Have a Message, Say it with Social Media

by Vern Hanzlik, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Qumu

May 26 2013 - Social Business was high on the agenda at last month's Melcrum Digital Communications Summit in London. When delegates, predominantly senior Internal Communications decision makers, were asked what their top current priorities for digital communications are, the overall consensus was the driving of social media adoption and behavioural change and figuring out where true business value lies.

The majority of the organisations represented at the event have already created their own internal business collaboration tools and, not only does this social collaborative space become their default homepage where employees can choose what to read and when to read it, but it also becomes the core of the firm's communications where people decide what to say and when to say it.

Social media gives employees a voice and consequently the chance to express feelings. It gives people the means to choose their own collaboration channels and decide what news they are interested in instead of being bombarded by emails they are not even going to read. The recent announcement that Skype Video will be integrated into Outlook Email for instance shows how video, as a social tool, is becoming ever more engrained in modern day communications. Sometimes a quick video call can accomplish more than a long email, and a recorded video will communicate more than a written message.

Employees, who are ultimately the essence of any firm's brand, should be mobilized both internally and externally so that they can become credible voices of the organisation and make day-to-day work better. Through social business, they can connect to share objectives they are passionate about and that benefit business. Employee engagement ultimately enhances customer experience and hence financial results.

Management should of course set guidelines, but employees should be inspired to be entrepreneurial and use social media for what they want. Managers should find out what makes their work force thrive; they should find their motivators and let them show their feelings through corporate social media. This would make your work force happy, leading to increased productivity.

Social business is however, at times, still perceived as too radical and, when trying to adopt social media tools, including video, managers face challenges to bring the change-resistant on board.

First of all, there is the tyranny of email. Then, the concern about the lack of anonymity and policing and, especially in relation to video, a general misconception about how long it takes to upload and about how secure it is. Some people are simply not socially engaged and consequently find social media divisive. It is the age and function gap factor which divides the email generation from generation Y.

How should change be brought about then? Intranet waste and stagnant sites should be eliminated and, if the prospect of mass adoption sounds too scary, managers could start the process by connecting small communities first.

Organisations should invest time and effort educating employees on the advantages of social business, on how enterprise video really works and on how it can make you 'work out loud'. Find out what drives your employees and then integrate it into your social media strategy. The move from a fixed desk to a flexible desk environment creates dialogue over broadcast and increases cross-functional working. Everybody can join in the conversation and learn from each other.

Video, in particular, is human, authentic, genuine and engaging. It can make people feel as if 'they were there'. Management video announcements can be delivered on a regular basis and this makes management more approachable and visible. A manager is after all the most important person in someone's work life.

Video is also transparent and therefore also helps change culture and in some cases re-build a reputation; it can be used to provide training and has a positive impact on the environment. For example, a lot of paper gets used when PowerPoint decks are printed for a big target audience; video presentations, as part of social media, can reduce printing and therefore cost.

A further benefit is in clarity of communication. Spoken and written words may be misinterpreted as they can have different meanings in different countries - if they are delivered via live video, facial expressions remove the possibility of misunderstanding. It is easier to express feelings and not just opinions via video's direct approach.

In conclusion, people are not going to feel engaged if they do not have a voice. The means to give that voice are available to us within corporate social media. Employers can go a step further and put a face to that voice by creating video communities. My company, Qumu, provides video platform solutions to companies across a diverse range of sectors and these solutions help make business communication more dynamic and contemporary.

Employers and employees alike can no longer ignore how the way we communicate has changed through social media. We now live in a networked world which brings us all closer together; think of Occupy, the Arab Spring, real-time news events and how we can find out about them, comment and get involved in real time.

Social business is a journey we will all have to embark on sooner or later.

About the author

Vern Hanzlik has spent the last 20 years building and growing enterprise software and service companies. Most recently, Mr. Hanzlik served as the President, EMEA and member of the Board of TEAM Informatics, a global enterprise solutions and technology company. Prior to that, he co-founded Stellent, an enterprise content management software company that was acquired by Oracle in 2006 for $440 million and became the basis of Oracle's E2.0 Fusion Middleware offering. Vern served in a variety of leadership roles, including product development, sales and marketing, and President and CEO. Following the sale of Stellent, Vern served in operational roles and as an advisor to several entrepreneurial software development companies. He joined one of these companies, Sajan Software, a cloud-based provider of global language services and translation management software, as President and a Board member, where he worked until 2010, when he joined TEAM. Vern holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from University of Wisconsin-Stout.



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