It's no secret these days that achieving widespread adoption of social collaboration technologies in an organisation is not easy: you can't trust viral adoption to get there by itself , and too often I come across stories where initial enthusiasm for an organisation's new social initiative just petered out after six months or so
Viral adoption works well in small teams, when one member of the team identifies a social tool that works well for them, and starts encouraging colleagues to use it with them. Very quickly, the team can gain 100% adoption of the tool, and become very dependent on it to support collaboration
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It's widely recognised now that successfully improving collaboration within an organisation doesn't happen by itself ; while social collaboration technologies might share some common characteristics with public social networking services like Facebook and Twitter, you simply aren't going to get company-wide levels of adoption purely through "viral" methods. You need to invest in an adoption strategy to make it work, with the understanding that what you are aiming for is not just adoption of the tools, but business change
As I've written before , social collaboration adoption success is not just about getting people to use a new tool, it's about getting them to change their established behaviour, and this can be extremely difficult to achieve, especially where it's not clear to them what you want them to change to , for example. By working closely with your sponsor and other senior execs to help them understand what's involved in working more openly and interactively, encouraging them to not just post on your social collaboration platform, but also to respond to others' posts, and to engage in dialogue wherever possible (both online and offline), you will give them the confidence and belief in the initiative that will drive more passionate and convincing advocacy, and ultimately more adoption across the business
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My research suggests that it’s most often the CIO or the head of internal communications who takes the ownership role in such initiatives - though the most successful are often co-sponsored by execs from several different parts of the business, as this helps to avoid internal politics (such as concerns about self-promotion and empire building), as well as accelerating the adoption process by already having the buy-in of several areas of the business on day one
People often talk about why social collaboration initiatives fail, and any organisation on their own collaboration journey will be conscious of the massive pressure to achieve strong levels of adoption of their new technology in order to demonstrate their success. The trouble with this, in my view, is that while technology adoption metrics provide insight into how quickly people start using the new platform to collaborate, they are limited in the extent to which they qualify the nature of that behaviour (and in judging how that behaviour has changed from before the tool was introduced)
As any organisation that has embarked on an initiative to drive adoption of a social collaboration platform will tell you (and as I have written, blogged and talked about many times) getting that momentum going is hard, and takes time and a lot of persistence
On the other hand, you have the potential to accelerate adoption among those content owners who committed so much of their time to the old system - people who have the potential to be great community managers in your new environment, provided you give them the right attention, training and encouragement
However, this issue is becoming increasingly important inside the organisation as well, as internal social collaboration platforms grow in popularity and businesses try to get their heads around things like adoption, management buy-in and delivering value
To keep pace Salesforce recently announced Chatter Free to spur more rapid adoption, enabling licensed Salesforce users to invite non-licensed colleagues to use Chatter without incurring additional costs