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Can social technology improve employee productivity?

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review James Manyika, Michael Chui, and Hugo Sarrazin presented some insightful research that identified that some of our best employees are spending  “28% of their workdays answering, writing, or responding to email. They also spend another 19% of the time trying to track down information (including searching through their own e-mail files) and 14% collaborating with co-workers.”

Social Technology makes your employees more productive

This means that these people are spending 61% of their days emersed in activities that can be improved though the use of social technology. The main benefit is clear social technology can help these people save time on these activities and therefore improve their productivity.

Think about how social technology improved our social lives. Facebook helps people to keep in touch with their friends and family in a more productive way. Instead of waiting for social gatherings people are now able to catch up on social news in the “dead pockets” of the daily routiunes. Waiting for meetings to start, sitting at petrol stations and standing in queues have now become opportunities to socialise, making our social life more productive.

The same is true in business. Socialising collaboration, knowledge management and internal communications will improve productivity by reducing email strain, improving the relevancy of information, personalising the knowledge management experience and allowing collaboration to break past the meeting room and into the mobile space.

Social Technology and Operations

the social entepriseAs we dive more into the strategy in fusing social technology and business together it is becoming abundantly clear that social technology needs to form a part of our business operations. Social media and business tools facilitate communications that should be integral in our operational conversations. The same technology should form part of our customer research activities that inform our product design and innovation operations. Further more, social business technology can have a micro and macro effect on business efficiency.

In his article “The future is podular” Dave Gray suggest that business needs to move towards a ‘podular’ networked business instead of remaining a ‘chain’ driven organisation. This means that the ‘chain of command’ shifts and our current communication styles in business will fail inside a networked culture. I would like to suggest at this juncture that social business is the operational solution to create a communication and accountability structure for a ‘networked/podular’ business. In this case, social business technology is an imperative to successfully achieving the suggested model.

In more “chain and command” driven organisations, the operations can survive without social business technology but will inevitably need to change their process as Generation Y moves in and demands more productive communication systems and more intuitive collaborative structures. Chain and Command organisations (hierarchical) will struggle to remain relevant and agile in the future of business and Generation Y are well aware of this. Over time, our employees, future management and customers will naturally more towards a podular structure, but by then it will be too late to create a competitive advantage.

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