Social Software Pilots

pilotThe topic of social software pilots came up recently – I have long thought that whenever possible you need to get social in the hands of as many people as you can. Pilots of a platform like IBM Connections to a restricted set of people rarely works. This is for many reasons but mainly:

  • The more people who have access the greater the success. A social system with 2 people is less useful than with 10, which is less useful than 100 etc. You are looking for knowledge accidents so you need to increase the traffic in order to encourage ‘collisions’
  • Social is about systems of engagement – and removing barriers to collaboration and information flow. If you artificially limit who can connect with whom the platform will fail as you are undermining the entire premise of the system
  • Adoption of the system is not a valid metric of success. Number of posts/likes/comments etc. is a not a representation of the success. You need to look for outcomes (such as speed of getting new products to market, time to resolution on customer complaints, time to productivity for new hires) that actually impact the business. Do not confuse activity with results.
  • Social is the most successful when people who do not know each other interact. Pilots are usually deployed to a team where everyone knows everyone anyway
  • If it is a pilot I am unlikely to engage as if it is a pilot all the information I post will be lost when it ends
  • Probably the most important point… if I am on the pilot and want to share a file or an idea with four colleagues… two of which are on Connections and two are not… I will not email it to two people and post on Connections to the other two. I will email it to all four and bypass Connections. This will give a false impression of ‘lack of adoption’ whereas if everyone has access there is no need for me to stick to old ways of working.

Our most successful customers are the ones who identify business problems that social can solve, and then deploy social technologies to solve those issues, rather than piloting a system and seeing how it works out. What’s your experience?

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