What is social collaboration and why should you care?

eXo Platform Blog

Social collaboration was born as an answer to significant changes happening in the modern business environment. Companies are now more than ever looking for growth, competitive advantages, responsiveness, efficiency and innovation. On the other hand, the tech evolution and the expansion of social media have radically changed the way companies and employees communicate and interact internally with each other as well as externally with customers and partners.

Describing “social collaboration” in a one-sentence definition would be restrictive and would not do this notion justice. With the benefits of social collaboration having been addressed in previous posts, this one will focus instead on the emerging strategic objectives of social collaboration in organizations today.

1. New stimulus for growth

Social collaboration has emerged as a new opportunity to introduce a new stimulant for meeting the company’s growth objective through its ability to boost employee efficiency and productivity and to take knowledge management to the next level.

As an example of this, employees can have unprecedented easy access to a network of experts who can easily and more openly start to contribute the right skills in the right contexts through formal or informal internal collaboration channels. Each activity is captured and made into a new piece of knowledge stored and organized in a place where everybody knows where to look.

With this ability to promote cross-functional collaboration, it will be so easy for a salesperson, as an example, to put a financial team member, a marketing expert and a technical consultant into a space of cooperation to comment, suggest improvements or validate an urgent document or an RFP whether they are in the same office, in another location or on the move.

The value generated at the end of the day in terms of employee productivity and the generation and flow of internal knowledge now work in line with the company’s vision for its own growth.

2. A driver for innovation

Social collaboration is not just a platform but also a work culture. People are more compelled to share ideas on a platform that offers them the opportunity to promote their knowledge and involvement.

Through enabling the birth of communities of interest or practice, experts can share and discuss ideas. All employees are able to stay up to date on relevant departmental or cross-departmental business operations where they are more likely to detect new ideas that can help their own work tasks, processes, products and services. This in turn helps the organization evolve and get a better competitive advantage.

When a social collaboration platform and work culture both become available in an organization, it encourages new ideas, gives it higher visibility and opens a clearer pathway toward those who can turn ideas to innovations that can benefit the organization.

3. Empowered cost control

Efficient company communication, transparency, a solid sense of belonging and active talent recognition have a direct impact on employee turnover and are some of the key reasons why some of today’s most successful companies are where they are.

Our mention above of crowd-sourced knowledge, for instance, can be looked at from a cost-reduction perspective with its effect of lowering employee training costs where employee onboarding becomes less expensive because information and knowledge become easily findable and usable.

Other more direct cost-saving opportunities for social collaboration include travel costs for remote workers and telecommunication invoices. And because time is money, social cooperation also directly helps reduce the time spent by employees on dealing with email overload and attending face-to-face meetings.

4. An enabler of transformation

Social collaboration plays a role in facilitating the transformation and development of organizations. It provides the ability to effectively integrate internal and external feedback channels and customer expectations in operations and allows efficient aggregation of information to better address the market in which the organization wants to thrive.

From the point of view of the organization’s top management, social collaboration integrated with the company’s key processes provides an opportunity to be aware of what is happening in the organization and to initiate the necessary changes or take them into consideration under their vision for transformation. It also enables them to effectively lead these changes by being closer to their employees and more aware of their aspirations and expectations.

As we can see, each strategic objective can be broken down into goals that play an active role in helping achieve said objectives by the organization. A social collaboration solution provides a centerpiece for a digital workplace where these goals can be achieved, helping companies to succeed in this challenge.

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