UK companies: Becoming digital as key reason to go social!

As you might have heard or read the #e20s is coming to London on November 26th and we are busy in preparing everything around it. The one day conference discusses a good number of case studies from Barclay’s Bank to Shell, from CEMEX to Euroclear and from Deutsche Bank to Sanofi. Additionally we invited some of British subject-matter experts to discuss the latest insights on how to make the “social” work within the organisaton.

In order to find the right tone for the discussions at our London event – the overall question for me is: What’s the state of the social business & collaboration evolution in the UK? I asked this question some particpants at our #e20s Meetup and received some nice answers that I have put together in a small interview series.

#e20s Interview Series

The key essence out of these answers is to me – that the drivers of “social” are – as expected – very perceived very different in the UK compared to Germany or France. A strong driver for the start of social collaboration initiatives in the recent years have been seen in the call-out of the UK government to companies to become more digital. But while established social networks internally to follow up on this, the interviewed experts have put in question that the companies in general missed to ask about the key purpose of the implementation of social tools. This led to result that quite a lot of companies have established social infrastructure but with low adoption or with no or minor overall effects to the company’s value creation.

Re-addressing the Why question and aligning Social stronger with the process

So social is here to stay but – according to the interviewed experts – for having substantial effects out of social a lot of companies have to re-address the question of “why they are doing this”. The need to go digital is certainly a key purpose – but this approach must firstly aligned with the ideas for the digital business model. (Here I like to point to to a very nice post of David Terrar on the “Riding the Digital Enterprise Wave”.) In the following steps the use of social collaboration infrastructures will be an enabling way to achieve the purpose.

Another reason to go into social – mentioned in the interview series – is the strongly perceived effects of dis-engaged employees. With social the companies in the UK recently are aiming to address this engagement problem. But most of the times the corporate culture is not yet aligned with a new way of knowledge sharing and collaboration. This also leads to unsatisfying results for the social initiative. To change this the recommendation are also to align the “Why” stronger with the solving of process-related communication and collaboration problems – to achieve some direct business value. The engagement problem will be indirectly addressed when people realize that they can get work better done and receive better appreciation for their work.

In general: Social collaboration initiatives still have to prove their value – in UK!

So as an overall result of my interviews I would state that the UK is further emerged into the roll-out of social collaboration platforms but without achieving substantial results on the business performance and employee engagement. Many initiatives are also stuck in the trough of disillusionment – like in many other countries – but having a different history. In general – there is still a long way to go! The industry characteristics with strong financial and mercantile focus also puts a stronger tone on the usage of social collaboration tools for better serve the customer.

As a conclusion for the setup of our conference in November I see that we have to put a strong focus of the discussion on how to identify the business problems to tackle as the “Why” and how to successfully adopt the organisation to the new ways of working. Be part of this discussion and book your ticket today!

To discuss in detail the results of the #e20s Interview Series we have set up a #e20s Expert Talk event (aka Google+ Hangout on Air session) for this Friday / Oct 10th at 3:30pm (UK time).  Do not miss this!