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Why small businesses are investing in social collaboration

By Angela Ashenden posted 09-18-2015 09:37


The "Enterprise Social Network". It sounds like a big company solution, doesn't it? A way to connect your many thousands of employees spread across the globe, a way to highlight duplication of effort, and enable more streamlined communications, particularly closing the gap between leaders and staff. And it's true, there are huge benefits to be gained by large organisations investing in social collaboration technologies, as I outlined in my report What is social collaboration?.


But what's interesting is that we are now seeing a tangible shift in the market whereby it’s actually smaller companies that are turning to social collaboration. And, actually, there are some very good reasons for this, because the technology - and the collaborative practices the technology supports and enables - offers some great opportunities for smaller organisations, particularly those that are growing rapidly, and are struggling to cope with the impact that growth has on their culture and the way the business operates.


As UK-based UnLtd - a not-for-profit organisation which supports social entrepreneurs - found, hiring lots of people in a short timeframe can provide major challenges for a small business; it's difficult to onboard them fast enough to keep up with the growing workload. Similarly, many small businesses have little in the way of an intranet, so it's difficult to share information effectively to support the accelerated demand. For UnLtd, one of the major benefits of introducing a social intranet was in better-connecting its significant mobile workforce - around two thirds of the company's 100 or so staff spend all of their time in the field, visiting award winners and partners, rather than based in an office. This means they could feel quite isolated, and the social intranet has helped to connect them to each other more effectively, but has also made them feel more connected with the organisation as a whole.


But there's one more benefit that is attracting small businesses to social collaboration. Our recent survey suggests that the biggest driver for small businesses now considering an investment in social collaboration is finding new ways to drive innovation within the organisation. By connecting employees - and often partners and customers as well - social collaboration technologies can help spark new ideas, but more than that, they can help develop and refine those ideas, through bringing together people with different perspectives, different skills and experiences, to enable those ideas to become real projects that can improve business processes, or develop new products or services that bring real, tangible benefits to the business. There's your ROI, right there.


If you work for an organisation - be it small, medium or large - that is considering investing in social collaboration, come and find out how to get the most out of your investment at Making Social Collaboration Work, in London on October 15th. We've got a panel of fabulous case study speakers - including Virginia Henry from UnLtd - who will be sharing their experiences, advice and lessons learnt through their own social collaboration journeys, and it will be a great opportunity to network with experts and peers, and get your questions answered.


Read more about UnLtd's story in our case study report.

#smb #socialcollaboration #Collaboration #Adoption #strategy #casestudy