Click to explore the infographic. Copyright HootSuite.
Two heads are better than one. Just ask Watson and Crick, or Marie and Pierre Curie, or Abbot and Costello, or Hewlett and Packard, or… you get the point. Collaborators in business, science, and the arts have created ideas that nobody could have produced on their own. And while working together is nothing new, social media has made it possible to collaborate at unprecedented scale and speed. That’s why businesses are rapidly adopting social media in the workplace to improve productivity. HootSuite produced an interactive infographic to show how social media is transforming how business gets done.
We chose a water cooler metaphor for social business because it is a traditional place where employees socialize, but more importantly, because the water bubbles demonstrate how fluid companies must be in today’s rapidly changing economy. The old, rigid organization chart is outdated; we wanted to hint at how social businesses are dynamically connecting people to create value.
Extend the Enterprise
Social media hasn’t made business a social activity. In truth, business has always been social. The power of social media is in facilitating and rewarding natural behavior in the workplace, making our communications faster, more relevant, and more visible to our colleagues. Social technology also connects employees with customers, suppliers and partners, opening up the organization to innovation from the outside.
At HootSuite, employees participate in the same Feedback Forum as customers, with the shared goal of making their product better. They also listen to customers on Twitter and Facebook, then bring their ideas into internal discussions using their own product, HootSuite Conversations. Yammer is another great tool for enterprise workplace collaboration, and is available in the HootSuite App Directory. When these internal networks mesh with customer-facing apps like Zendesk and Get Satisfaction, organizations can take suggestions from customers and make them reality.
Let Good Ideas Happen
The American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once remarked, “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind, than in the one where they sprang up.” Ideas need to be set free, not locked up in a customer service department’s file folder, an engineer’s private hard drive, or a personal inbox that nobody else has access to.
Great inventions and discoveries don’t just pop into a person’s head in one “Eureka!” moment. They appear when half-formed ideas, what author Steven Johnson calls “hunches”, are able to mingle together in open environments. ”When ideas take form,” Johnson says in a widely-viewed YouTube video, “they need to collide with other hunches. Oftentimes the thing that turns a hunch into a real breakthrough is another hunch that’s lurking in somebody else’s mind. And you have to create systems that allow those hunches to come together and turn into something bigger than the sum of their parts.”
In his book, “Where Good Ideas Come From”, Johnson identifies the coffee houses of the Enlightenment and the Parisian salons of Modernism as two kinds of environments where hunches could collide to form truly great ideas. Likewise, innovation can begin at the water cooler when two or more people from different departments share thoughts about seemingly unrelated problems. Social media allows businesses to expand that creative environment in virtual form, by bringing employees, executives, customers and other stakeholders together.
Show Me The Money!
All this talk about creativity and innovation sounds nice, but does collaboration with social technology really impact the bottom line? Yes, it does. In fact, the economic value of better information sharing among employees is immense. McKinsey Global Institute has estimated that social technologies, if accompanied by the right changes in corporate culture, could improve the productivity of “interaction” workers by 20 to 25 percent. Benefits in collaboration, coordination, and communication account for two-thirds of the $900 billion – 1.3 trillion of annual value that MGI estimates can be unlocked by social technologies in just four business sectors.
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