Companies that are looking to get involved in social business don’t just jump right in with both feet. It’s a gradual process that takes a lot of time and effort before change can start to happen. Over at Chess Media Group we created (and by “we” I mean my business partner Connie) a simple visual that we feel depicts the process for most companies that get involved in social business.
As you can see the phases are: awareness, denial, acceptance, and finally change.
This is where a company is introduced to the concept of social business or social media. The company starts to explore some of the tools and strategies that are out there and might even take a look at a few examples or case studies. Basically, this is the information gathering and exploring phase to see if getting involved in social business even makes sense. If you take a look at the Enterprise 2.0 report that I reviewed, you will see that this awareness and push for social business comes from both employees and senior level executives at a company.
For a lot of companies that first hear about something new in the social business space the knee jerk reaction is to deny it or brush it off. We saw a lot of this with the whole “social media is a fad” phase but now companies are really starting to take it seriously. I was reading Andrew McAfee’s book “Enterprise 2.0″ and while I don’t have the book in front of me, there was a paragraph in there that basically said that most companies that have an existing way of doing something undervalue the benefits of an alternative by a factor of 3x. This means that if a company is using something such as an email system and you introduce an internal collaboration tool, that the key stakeholders at that company are most likely going to undervalue that internal collaboration tool by a factor of 3x. Similarly, companies that do adopt a new way of doing something overstate the benefit of their “new way” by a factor of 3x, so you can see there is quite a gap here. Either way, during the denial phase most companies simply to not see or understand the value of social business and/or social media and thus don’t get involved.
After a period of denying social business most companies eventually begin to understand and accept the value in changing the way their organization functions. Again, if you look at the Enterprise 2.0 report you will see that a lot of the companies on the E2.0 council have begun to explore social business initiatives. At this point most companies realize that they can no longer run their business with tools, strategies, and methodologies that worked decades ago. With the creation and adoption of so many networking and communication platforms, companies must take advantage of them if they really wish to grow their business and connect with their customers. For most companies, acceptance does take time because they will be investing a lot of money into making their social business efforts work and therefore need to make certain that they are making the right decision.
Once companies accept the social business concept and understand its value then they are ready to actually change the way in which their company operates. Change is a long haul and gradual process that involves bringing together a solid strategy with an equally solid tool-set. Adoption is not easy especially for enterprise companies, after all how do you suddenly get your 50k+ employees to begin using an internal collaboration platform that you just implemented? I’m sure you can see and understand why this will take a while. Companies are literally changing the way they do business and in order for this change to take effect across the enterprise, it will take time.
So there you have it, the four phases of enterprise social business adoption. It’s nothing too complicated or detailed (unless you really want it to be). The whole point here is to describe from a high level what a lot of companies are going through. Eventually many of them to get to the “change” phase but the key is to get companies there as quickly as possible with the highest rate of adoption that’s possible.
I will continue to explore this in future posts but first wanted to introduce and explain the four phases of social business adoption and have a discussion about these phases with all of you.