How Technology is Transforming HR, Part 3: Cultivating Collaborative Work Environments

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Cultivating Collaborative Work EnvironmentsContinuing my series on the new data-driven tools, platforms, and innovations revolutionizing the HR function, here is a look at the impact new enterprise social networking solutions are having on the workplace.

Read my previous posts here:

Enterprise Social Networking: Cultivating Collaborative Work Environments

The growth of social networking has given rise to a host of new software aimed at enhancing communication and collaboration among employees within the closed domains of private companies. Some of the biggest players in the tech sector, which include Salesforce and Microsoft, have designed (or acquired) new tools that enable employees to communicate and work more efficiently with the aim of improving productivity and overall performance.

Some of the leading tools currently in the marketplace include:

  • Chatter, a tool designed by Salesforce
  • Yammer, a startup acquired by Microsoft
  • tibbr, a software application created by Tibco

Each of these tools is helping to revolutionize how employees organize and execute their core responsibilities, as well as how they interact and collaborate in the workplace. Let’s look at some examples of how these applications are being utilized in the private domain.

3 Ways Enterprise Social Networking Tools are Transforming HR

Cross department/function collaboration

One the biggest challenges in the private sector involves a lack of communication between different departments or functions that have joint responsibilities for a particular project, product, campaign or other related initiative. Often, what’s required is more time and space for frequent and potentially informal communication, especially as new information is received or new events take place, which can have implications on timelines, requirements, budgets and so forth.

These tools enable employees to communicate more easily and quickly, thereby ensuring that vital information is being shared more readily across artificial boundaries of an organization.

Problem anticipation, identification and resolution

As more data is generated and shared among employees through these new vehicles, management is better able to anticipate and target potential issues that may arise as the data produced is analyzed and filtered upwards. Analysis of this “big data” can provide senior management with new dashboards and lenses to observe where efficiencies may be breaking down, or where new resolutions are needed to improve both the productivity and performance of the business.

For example, senior management can now observe whether sufficient communication is taking place between product designers, engineers, marketers and those performing customer evaluations — all to ensure that there is greater coherency and inclusiveness from the different business streams as it relates to the development of new product lines.

Ideation and innovation

As more communication and interaction takes place between employees responsible for creating products and those evaluating what’s working or not (as well as those tasked with understanding the customers’ needs), new understandings will emerge among the different organizational functions. Ultimately, this new form of understanding will enable each group to better understand the needs and challenges of the other, thereby facilitating the generation of new ideas and innovations that better address the customers’ needs.

A Caveat

As more companies implement technology that supports enterprise social networking in their workplaces, new efficiencies and productivity gains will likely result, in addition to more opportunities for ideation and innovation. As noted in my previous entry, however, it will be equally important for these companies to make time for employees to have face-to-face collaboration and issue resolution. The reality is that technologies can sometimes facilitate interactions that are not as constructive or meaningful, especially when dealing with complex or sensitive issues. In these cases, the human touch will always be needed.

Have you or your company implemented enterprise social networking in your workplace? If so, how has your experience been in using these new tools? Do you find that they enhance employee productivity and performance? What about the relations between employees, do you think that has been affected in any way?

Head of People Operations