It Takes Two: The Case for IT and Business Involvement in Social Software Rollout

This blog post was also published on the tibbr blog.

Social software has been around for many years, but we’re still at the beginning of social software use in business. In fact, Forrester Research reports only 12% adoption of enterprise social tools among nearly 5,000 US information workers surveyed last year. I argue this lack of adoption is due to not having the right stakeholders involved in the process of buying, planning and rolling out the software.

I am observing two dead-end scenarios with how social software is being rolled out to an organization. I see issues when business end users take the initiative to buy and use a new shiny social tool without the involvement and endorsement of IT.  In this scenario, IT does not trust the security of the software and ultimately shuts it down. I also see issues when IT is purchasing social software based on a laundry list of features without involving input from business end users.  In this situation, IT buys a software platform with so many bells and whistles that business users lose productivity in trying to figure out how to use it for work and ultimately leave it alone.

This is why it takes two – both IT and business working in tandem to plan and design a successful social software rollout.

Enterprise rollouts require IT involvement to ensure performance, data security, global access and interoperability with other legacy systems.  In this way, IT builds the foundation for social software solutions to scale across the business.  Because social software is only as good as it is used, enterprise rollouts also require input and involvement from business-end users. They paint the picture of how social software can be used to share knowledge and collaborate at work.  A critical piece of launching social software is to have a core team of people who are natural communicators and produce lots of content that will help seed conversation.  That’s why I like to engage with Corporate Communications and/or Marketing from the business side.

At tibbr, we’re big believers that social software has to fit within the natural flow of work. This requires an understanding of how business end users actually work (information best obtained by them directly) as well a method for interaction between social software and the other critical business systems workers use to get their work done.  Social software is both a business and technology decision and needs a champion from both IT and business to ensure successful implementation.

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