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Mobile Devices, Management Structures and SMAC, Part 3

I just finished a book titled Social Business By Design by Dion Hinchcliffe and Peter Kim.  I recommend this book to anyone interested in the impact SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) is going to have on your industry, market and company.  Mobile devices have empowered social networking platforms for both consumers and the enterprise.  The SMAC stack is shaking up retailing, banking, healthcare, media, government, insurance, etc.  Industries that are primarily about information will experience the biggest initial impacts of this transformation.
Figure 1.

One of the insights I gained from this book is the impact social enterprise collaboration tools and internal social networking platforms can have on management structures.  In Figure 1, a typical hierarchical organizational chart is depicted.  Ideas and innovations that come from the people at the bottom of the chart, where most people are, have a great deal of trouble moving up and it can take a long time to move up.  At each level there is a gatekeeper.   This gatekeeper, has his/her own agendas, political considerations, priorities, limited time, poor memory, and communication challenges.  Many good ideas and innovations simply die with these gatekeepers.  The potential economic costs due to inefficient and slow communications in this model is enormous.  Just think about how many innovations, good ideas and problems could be quickly solved if the right people with the right knowledge could be instantly notified and involved.

In Figure 2 you have a simple illustration of an organizational chart when a social networking site, or social enterprise collaboration platform is involved.  Anyone can share an idea with the entire group.  The idea can be openly discussed, debated and voted on.  Innovations and ideas get their fair consideration.  In this model, the power in the organization is not dependent on the gatekeepers and titles people have had bestowed upon them, but with those that have the best ideas and answers.

The people with the best ideas and a willingness to share in social networking environments gain a reputation and credibility that raises their social power, or as one social media vendor calls it "Klout."  The power structure changes when information is in an open social democracy.

SAP's SCN (SAP Community Network) is an example of the power of social networking and collaboration tools in use.  Here is a description of its purpose and value as described in the book Social Business By Design, "The goal was to enlist customers and other interested parties to come together online and share ideas and solve problems. In this way SAP could engage and mobilize the people who were smartest about using its products in the field. Customers could then work together directly and exchange valuable knowledge."

Note that many problems SAP users have, can be more quickly and efficiently resolved by other users on the network.  This helps the end user, and reduces support costs on SAP.  It is a win-win.  The more time that goes by, the larger the database of answers and useful content grows which just increases its value for the entire community.

SAP is one of the first companies to identify specific ROIs from implementing social collaboration platforms.  Again from the book Social Business By Design, "SAP cites SCN for improving customer retention, creating efficiency, and driving top-line growth and revenue."

Let's now reflect on the role of mobile devices in this process.  In days gone by, the people with the power were those "in" the corporate office. Those actually physically in the building.  Slow and tightly controlled communications that followed the hierarchy of the organizational chart meant often the powerful needed to be in the room where data was available and decisions were made.  However, in today's mobile and social world, where the most knowledgable people, and those with the most "social" power and influence in the company are often traveling and spending their time with customers, prospects and partners, mobile access to important data, social networks and collaboration sites enable them to continue to provide value to the company and to the community from anywhere.

Mobile technologies are enabling the abstraction of power from a management hierarchy, or a building location to wherever there are the best ideas and people are willing to share them.  That means the corporate power structures have now been digitized, mobilized and socialized.  If you want to be somebody in the company, you will need to be somebody on the social networks.

Enterprise mobile vendors must now add to their portfolio's tools and APIs that will enable them to connect with and support social enterprise collaboration and social networking sites.  They must think beyond just delivering business process specific mobile apps, and now integrate with the larger social enterprise collaboration strategy and conversation happening in companies.

Read Part 1 of this series here.
Read Part 2 of this series here.
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Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for SMAC, Cognizant
Read The Future of Work
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.