One of the more common use cases of Enterprise 2.0 is finding expertise within a large organisation. At Lotusphere last year, a representative from the recently merged Bank of New York / Mellon Financial explained the problem (I’m paraphrasing slightly, it was a year ago!):
“I’ve got 14,000 people over here, and 18.000 people over there who don’t work in the same building, don’t know each other and I’m supposed to drive synergies!”
Our friends at Socialtext are quoted as saying that 70% of searches on a companywide intranet are people searches, which more often than not are unsuccessful. From a recent IBM survey, only 13 percent of HR execs said they are “very capable” of locating an individual with a particular expertise within their company.
How important is it to be able to find people and how can social software help? Almost all companies preach “teamwork” and “working together” and as I wrote previously “a strong network of contacts can help you get things done and make things happen“. Who you know is important, as well as what you know. A sales rep who knows the right person to talk to in accounts to book that deal right at the end of the quarter to make his target knows this – as does the journalist who needs to find someone who works for her publication who happens to speak Chinese and English fluently in order to meet her copy deadline.
Social software can help you find the right person in the following ways:
- It can show feeds of people who read the same content as you
- It can show feeds of people who contribute to the same content areas as you
- It can show who knows and works with the people you know and work with
- It allows people to describe themselves rather than official job title and role in the corporate hierarchy
- People can signal what they are working on
- People can blog about who they are and what they do (both in and outside of work – a volunteer in the Scouts could be useful if you are preparing an proposal for that organisation!)
- People (and their blog posts) can be tagged – eg “Chinese” to show up in relevant search results
An internal directory, which can be potentially pre-populated from existing data sources, could be a great way to start deploying social software within your organisation.