Social Networking @ Work: Are You Ready?

Do CIOs need to introduce social networking into the workplace?
Do CIOs need to introduce social networking into the workplace?
Image Credit: Christopher

So there’s no question that this whole social networking thing has become very, very popular. No matter if we’re talking about Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, or any one of the other social networking sites that are out there, the rapid growth and constant usage of social networking has shown us the importance of information technology and made it a part of our everyday lives. However, as the person with the CIO job you need to be asking yourself a very important question: should you be taking steps to introduce social networking into the workplace?

What Social Networking Would Do For Your Workplace

As the CIO, you have a lot going on already, do you think that introducing social media tools into the workplace is going to be a good idea? The first thing that you are going to have to do is to take a careful look at the organization of the company and make a determination as to if it is a good fit for adding social media to the workplace. The question that you are going to have to answer is if the addition of social media is going to help or hinder the work that the company’s employees are doing.

A good example of a company that may be well positioned to make use of social media tools would be one where the employees work independently. The fit might even be better if those workers are stationed in far-flung offices. If it turns out that the jobs that these workers are doing are so-called social jobs that require them to interact with each other and information has to be shared, then social media tools might be exactly what the company needs to implement.

The person in the CIO position has to work with the company’s senior management prior to introducing any sort of social media tool. It’s going to be important that a change of this nature have the support and buy-in from the highest levels or else the rank-and-file workers simply won’t make use of it. Prior to rolling any new social media tool out to the company, ensure that you have senior management’s approval and acceptance of your plan.

Who Would Use Social Networking In The Workplace

As the CIO, you need to understand that not everyone will end up using the new social media tool. What’s going to be important for you is that you are able to create a core set of users who will embrace the new tool. This group of users will constitute roughly about 20% of the company’s employees. In addition to this committee core group of employees, there will be another group of 30% or so who will be occasional users and who will be attracted to using the product by your core group of users. At the same time you need to realize that there will be roughly 50% of the company’s employees who simply won’t use the new social media tool.

The core group of users who adopt the social media tool and use it on a daily basis are the key to the project’s long term success. They are the ones who will keep the company’s other workers engaged and using the new tool. Ultimately, their involvement can determine if the social media tool project at your company is either a success or a failure. As the CIO you need to understand that the communities that are created by these tools won’t just run themselves. Instead, you are going to have to be willing to dedicate the IT resources that it is going to take in order to provide active community management.

New tools come with their own set of challenges. One of the biggest is that there will be the additional training that will be required for all employees who will be using it. This will be an important issue for you as you evaluate the different social media tools that you could possibly deploy. If you are able to find a tool that looks very similar to other social media tools that you employees may be using in their personal life, like Facebook, then you can potentially reduce the amount of training that will be required.

What All Of This Means For You

At times it may seem as though social media tools have taken over the world that we now find ourselves living in. As powerful as these tools have become, we are not currently using them in our workplace. As the CIO it may be time for you to take a look at what it would take to roll out a social networking tool inside of your company.

Before you make the commitment to introduce a social networking tool in your company, you’ll first have to take a look at how the company is organized. If the workers at your company are spread out but still need to work together closely, then the company may be a good fit for social media. Before proceeding with any social media project you need to make sure that you have the full support of your company’s senior management. Once the new tool is rolled out, you can count on roughly 20% of the employees adopting it. 30% will occasionally use it and roughly 50% probably won’t touch it. Your core group of users is critical to your social media tool’s project success – they will cause other users to use the tool. As with all new IT tools, CIOs will need to be aware of just exactly how much training will be required to use the new tool.

There is no question that in our personal lives, social media tools are very popular. If a CIO is able to determine that their company can benefit from introducing a social media tool into the workplace then they should proceed. Just make sure that you’ve got senior management support and then provide support to your core users – they’ll determine how successful the project is!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What do you think that a CIO can do to boost the adoption of a new social networking tool?

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