Everyone in an organisation—from the CEO’s office to the mail room—has valuable information.
That's the view of Adam Pisoni, Microsoft’s general manager of Yammer, when speaking at Microsoft's NZ Tech conference earlier this month.
The challenge companies face is how to tap that knowledge across geographies, departments and pay grades.
While the nature of work evolves and becomes increasingly global, daily interactions typically involve the same faces, and information remains locked in different corners of an organisation.
According to Pisoni, employees of all levels think they’ve found the key: social technology.
“Social is moving from a nice-to-have tool to a necessity in the workplace,” he says.
"As all companies are faced with the increasing pace of change, they need to leverage the power and knowledge of employees more than their current technologies allow.
"Just as email accelerated business in the 90s, social tools are driving a faster flow of knowledge and information within and across organisations.”
Pisoni believes enterprise social tools apply social media principles to the workplace, making it easier for people to share files and information with co-workers and to collaborate as teams across departments and locations.
Unlike consumer services such as Facebook, enterprise social provides private, shared workspaces for employees to share inside and outside the walls of their company.
Employees are hungry to apply the same forms of social communications at the office that they find effective in their personal lives, Pisoni claims.
More than 40 percent of surveyed workers feel there isn’t enough collaboration in their workplaces, and that social tools can foster better teamwork - a third say they are even willing to spend their own money to buy them.
The nature of how we work is changing, Pisoni says. Work is increasingly done by virtual teams, and by workers using mobile devices. Also, the amount of non-routine work is increasing, meaning we are spending more of our time on things that fall outside of normal processes.
In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2015, 40 percent or more of an organisation’s work will be “non-routine,” up from 25 percent in 2010.
"This changing nature of work requires new types of tools that make it easier to connect, share and organise across locations, teams and devices," he adds.
"As work becomes less routine, employees need easier access to the right knowledge, information and insight from all corners of the organisation to make fast, informed decisions.
“Employees are trying to be effective in a world where the rules and software they were given are increasingly inadequate for the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.
“They recognise in order to be successful in a rapidly changing world, they need to adopt new ways of working that are more collaborative and social.
"Unlocking the knowledge and information within organisations by making it more open will help our employees be more empowered and effective.”
Not coincidentally, Pisoni believes social media itself is what’s driving many of these new challenges that enterprise social helps solve, with services like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp helping connect customers with each other.
It’s not surprising, then, that Pisoni advocates that social in the enterprise can help companies re-wire how they share, learn and organise internally, so they can be more responsive to rapidly changing customer expectations.