Wyzetalk is Workforce Engagement – it’s more than a software offering

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“….the attribute of trust is not pervasive in business. If an organisation has trust, it can create engagement. An engaged workforce provides happiness, profitability and longevity to business.”

For businesses to say they are about the ‘workforce’ is a huge statement to make. To elaborate on this,  ’employee engagement’ / ‘workforce engagement’ is a systemic and not a software solution offering.)

(Providers in the market place should be careful to advertise this unless they are capable of the complexity of the offering this unless you understand what you are saying. Its a systemic issue… it’s not about software.. it’s not a short term fix.

I have always been an entrepreneur, surrounding myself with people more capable than myself. I started a company when I was 24, it became a national operation, with 600 staff and over $ 50 million per annum turnover,  which I sold in 2008. It was predicated, in its structure, on command and control, hierarchical and siloed… by design…

At this juncture in my career I decided to take on a more personal journey by enrolling in an Executive MBA at UCT founded my Professor Tom Ryan. A challenging and positive, life-changing event. It opened the doors of systems thinking for me.

I wrote my dissertation on collaboration in the enterprise… the paper assumed that the attribute of trust existed in business. My partner and I started Wyzetalk in 2012. Wyzetalk, has grown into a unique, diverse international business, forming alliances with top national brands and consultancies – a world class product with world class partners.

We have realised that the attribute of trust is not pervasive in business. If an organisation has trust, it can create engagement. An engaged workforce provides happiness, profitability and longevity to business.

We have spent the last few years trying to understand how to build a connected workforce. How to build true engagement. How to build trust.

The Wyzetalk team understands that the enterprise is typically on the far right side of a room and the workforce, typically, is on the far left side of the room.

Our software builds the railway that links the two but its the content, the understanding and the authenticity that we curate that is built on that railway that builds trust over time.

Doing surveys to groups, giving them vouchers or rewards for their contribution creates possible short term gain but it’s  not a long term solution. Don’t be shallow, don’t be a fad.

We are not in the business of short term gain. We are here to create true workforce engagement. We want to bring the enterprise and its workforce together. Build a tribal culture that’s transparent, genuine and long-term, goal-oriented.

We love what we do and we want to evolve with our clients to make this a reality.

We recently held a breakfast for the mining industry. We were honoured to have Dr. James Motlatse and professor Tom Ryan present. This is the link: http://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/south-africa/messy-wage-negotiations-are-avoidable/

It takes the view that businesses need to become empathetic. It’s about the hands that do the work, but it’s about the mind and the heart of the workforce that matter as much.

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The rise of the Chief Collaboration Officer

Already a fixture in leading global companies that have embedded open innovation into their processes, the Chief Collaboration Officer (CCO) is a vital resource that all forward-thinking companies must invest in.

As businesses become more social and begin to open up new communication and collaboration channels, age old business processes and functions are radically being reengineered. As a result, and in order to tap into the collective brainpower of organisational stakeholders to open innovation and drive growth, someone has to run with it and that person is the CCO.

Why do we need a CCO?
The need for a CCO and support staff is especially pronounced at the outset of Social Business Software (SBS) adoption. Without training, SBS tends to spread through the enterprise like wildfire, but often ends up being used for ‘water cooler chats’ rather than its ability to rewire the organisation for productive collaboration and communication.

Establishing a CCO department goes beyond enthusiastic uptake, it can ensure that targeted groups are formed to serve tactical (project-based) and strategic purposes, and that they are maintained and fully utilised – putting the gains of a fully-functioning SBS implementation to work.

Any innovation or revelation harvested from SBS conversations could lead to the business making process improvements, advancing a strategy or embarking on a new direction. These must be highlighted to the proper entity to internalise, adopt and action as well as measure it. In other words, the influence of a CCO and support staff is most pronounced at the start but felt throughout the process, when social collaboration, communication and innovation have yet to be institutionalised. Without that guiding hand, it would be like trying to control the use of Facebook in the organisation.

The CCO will also constantly ensure alignment of SBS activities with strategic objectives, thus fuelling renewed energy in the business, encouraging a far more proactive approach to communication, and ensuring process transparency. In short, a CCO is charged with creating an open, connected business culture.

Who’d make a good CCO?
It is clear that a CCO is a catalyst for change but we’ve never had CCOs, and CCO courses aren’t yet taught in institutions of higher learning. So how do you know if someone is qualified to do the job?

Like any change management process, the job takes effort and drive to deliver the success that social business software is known for, and to instil a new way of doing things. In my view, senior professionals with a competency in technology, communications or marketing, coupled with a strong operational sense of the business, should find themselves in the running for a leadership position in your fledgling CCO department.

However to transform the organisation into an innovation powerhouse, the position of CCO is a board-level post. They must be able to develop and drive the execution of an enterprise social strategy, train and guide the team supporting social collaboration, monitor and measure social activities to achieve business and programme objectives. All this while working effectively across the organisation and liaising directly with C-level executives, strategists, market development and insight, brand development, communications, IT and Web teams.

One size does not fit all – but the promise of integrating the enterprise has unlimited potential continues Kappers. What is interesting is how few companies have actually embraced the idea and gone on to create a CCO role so it will be fascinating to see how the different roles play out over time and in different industries, as companies’ strategies mature.

There are great and diverse collaboration technologies out there today and collaboration itself has become increasingly important to businesses and as they find themselves increasingly surrounded with the ‘social-ness’ that the changing business environment demands, having a C-Suite executive that brings it all together to access the truly transformative possibilities of SBS and deliver results will become critical. Welcome to the team CCO.

Gys Kappers is the Co-founder and CEO of Wyzetalk, Africa’s leading Social Business Software Platform. Gys’s Masters thesis on ‘the delay of social business software adoption in the enterprise and its effects” have won him international acclaim.

Social Business Software: A time capsule for business ideas

Innovation plays an integral role in the longevity and existence of any startup or company, irrespective of which line of work you are in. Customers today are always looking for what their service providers can do for them. And they want you, as the service provider, to provide them with solutions to problems before they even realise there is an issue.
Companies are also struggling to retain important knowledge and intellectual value, as key skills are sometimes lost to competitors looking to get ahead in a highly complex and competitive marketplace.
And then there are external factors; due to a unique mix of economic and political variables, South Africa continues to suffer the devastating consequences of a seemingly unstoppable brain drain. As we bleed skills and knowledge to other countries, organisations’ output and competitiveness continues to suffer, and the cost of re-seeding lost competence and specialisation is both prohibitive and completely unnecessary.
In an effort to fight the brain drain that may exist within a company, it’s important to take note of, and address, what the concept of ‘knowledge’ is. Underlying the problem of knowledge retention in the face of high staff turnover are a few common misperceptions about knowledge itself.
Knowledge, according to Davenport and Prusak (1998), is “a fluid mix of … experiences, values, contextual information and expert insight.”
Don’t get side-tracked — the point is that all of these are transferable and can be made accessible to anyone in a company. Whereas dealing in specialised or privileged knowledge is necessarily role-based in companies, its creation (a process known as innovation) does not happen solely within the realm of job specialisation, talent or inspiration. Knowledge can be created and amplified, over and over again, by merely practising well-institutionalised innovation processes and not limiting processes to a select few.
With the attainment of knowledge thus demystified, it follows that the more participation in its creation, the better. The potential for innovation is everywhere in companies. It exists outside of R&D, tech departments and even the executive team — it does, however, exist with everyone from your staff, business partners, customers, shareholders and the general public.
The more people that participate in the creation of your innovation process, the merrier your output is likely to be. The creativity process shouldn’t be restricted or boxed, and once channels are put in place to allow overall participation, it allows companies to maximise the sharing of knowledge and the building of seeded ideas.
Many strategies have emerged on multiple fronts to plug the knowledge sink-holes that appear with the on-going skills crisis, but few have asked: how can we capture the knowledge people contribute and possess tacitly? And how can capturing it be made integral to our company’s processes?
Those who have asked these questions have relied on knowledge management and communication tools, but all these technologies have, so far, failed to capture and make knowledge easily accessible within a company:
• Email, is not a collaborative technology at heart, it doesn’t lend itself to mass participation or information management. It’s also largely based on assumption (that someone will receive it and respond) and accuracy (that it’ll get to the right person).
• Most intranets are digital notice boards or document storage facilities with little opportunity for interactive discussion.
• Knowledge management platforms have failed to inspire mass uptake in companies due to their complexity.
Technologies that truly assist in the capture, creation, sharing and documentation of knowledge have therefore yet to be deployed en masse, but with the emergence of social business software (SBS) we’re starting to get the right answers.
SBS is a compelling, intuitive way of communicating that ignites participation and lets companies conduct all their conversations in one place. It gives organisational stakeholders a collective — or group-based — platform within which to contribute to the corporate conversation, safely and equally. It is private, it’s secure, it can be aligned to different audiences, different stakeholders and your different objectives.
As SBS is fundamentally based on the principles of collaboration, it allows for the amplification of knowledge. And in sharing knowledge, SBS also aids the creation of knowledge. Although ideas are formed in the minds of individuals, interactions between individuals play a critical role in developing these ideas. Social business communities can span geographical, departmental or indeed organisational boundaries. It also acts as a searchable knowledge repository for documents and best practices, even once someone has moved on.
In the face of rampant skills losses and erosion of knowledge, SBS can help companies retain the value created by individuals and groups and capture their tacit knowledge. Hopefully that captured knowledge may guide and inspire others long after they’re gone, and even get new recruits up to speed before they join.
Sometimes an idea isn’t ready to be implemented today, but could be a great idea/business model in years to come, however if this knowledge isn’t captured and restored it may never flourish.

Innovation and the Importance of Culture

Why is it that 80% of business leaders feel that innovation is vital to survival yet only 4% feel that they are doing anything about it?

Organisations and their leadership teams typically view innovation at another level… something abstract. Imagine viewing it as a ‘what to do?’; how can we, as an organisation, behave differently?

Too often executives may think that they are coming up with really good and novel ideas – where in fact they are simply variations on an old theme. Whenever one comes to a make an important management decision it is imperative that considerable attention in given to defining the problem correctly.

The rapid change in the business environment brought about by technological innovation, socio-cultural development, economic fluctuations and other factors means that there needs to be an overall understanding of what is going on.

Decision-making and problem solving both rely on the supply of information in order to make logical choices. Oftentimes defining the problem itself and coming up with ideas that represent viable alternatives for consideration pose considerable difficulties. This leads me to suggest that leaders need to foster a culture of Divergent Thinking.

During our consultations and during our implementations of Social Business Software within organizations, we typically see a number of standout issues:

  • Organisations, on the whole, are terrible and communicating;
  • People compete rather than co-operate with each other;
  • People fail to work as cross-functional teams preferring to stay in organisational silos;
  • Meetings are unproductive and lack any formal innovation programmes and techniques;
  • Organisations, typically, are unwilling to consider external and fresh perspectives.

If you believe that there is a fresh way to look at things, that real change can and will lead to more innovations within your businesses through the implementation of Social Business Software then consider doing the following:

  • Institute an innovation programme that is framed as part of a marketing plan or a corporate strategy;
  • Implement a reward system for innovation;
  • Create a budget for innovation to build an ecosystem that drives creative problem solving;
  • Seek ideas from outside the organisation through the creation of external Social Business Communities that engages your customers and suppliers;
  • Getting the leadership teams to clarify the mission, vision, core purposes and core values to the enterprise on the Social Business Software Platform;
  • The leadership teams need to communicate frequently with the rest of the enterprise;
  • Share skills and knowledge within the Social Business community.
  • Make meetings more productive:
    • Meetings are necessary and if done properly can be productive and energetic. By having discussions through event creations on a social business software platform, one gets to be more prepared.
    • You get to set goals and make decisions
    • Start and finish on time
    • Introduce a disciplined approach and keep to it.

Gys is the Co-founder and CEO of WyseTalk (Pty) Ltd. Africa’s leading social business software platform. Gys’s Masters thesis entitled ‘The delay of Social business Software in the Enterprise and its effects’ has won him international acclaim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enterprise Social Network Trends 2014

Welcome to 2014 and my first blog of the year. I thought I would start by writing a short piece on my predictions for 2014.

Bring your own device (BYOD) will become integrated fully within the Enterprise Social Network (ESN) ecosystems and will become mainstream.

With this, smaller, real time networks will explode. ESN will allow information to be shared amongst employees and its customers.

The asynchronisation of mobile and ESN will enhance collaboration to increased levels of shared knowledge. If coupled with open innovation, organisations can significantly enhance their performance. The top ESN platforms allow for seamless integration with existing internal systems as well as external social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN.

By aligning the analytics and statistics from existing systems with social networks through the top level ESN platforms organisations are enabled to apply these learnings, take real action, solve problems and predict trends.

gys is the co-founder and CEO of Wyzetalk, Africa’s leading Social business software platform. His 2012 masters thesis on: ‘the delay of social business software adoption in the enterprise and its effects’ have received global acclaim.

Getting from Social Business to Open Innovation.

So you’re using your Social Business Software platform to generate new ideas, everyone’s generally engaged and you have a sense that the mood is improving and communication is up. But what about the ideas that are being generated? When an idea is posted within your community, is there a process to determine which ideas are good, bad, worth taking further, as far as perhaps being called innovative innovations. How do you take these ideas through the full cycle to the point of delivering them them back to the business. How does this delivery take place?

Here’s the three letter “I” challenge –

Ideation;

Invigoration; and

Implementation

Most organisations are not geared for innovation. So while you’re creating your Social Business Software strategy and implementation plan, you need to understand that you are actually changing it, changing your business, altering your future, shifting your paradigm and acknowledging the power in your people. It’s called open innovation.

Too much emphasis is being placed on generating ideas (ideation) and far too little time is spent on the actual translation into action and then the implementation and execution of these ideas.

So I propose a change from the conventional innovation equation of:

innovation = ideas

to:

innovation = ideas + planning + implementation + recognition

If you have invested in a social business strategy and platform with a view to improving innovation then this is how you need to go about ensuring you achieve your objectives:

  1. Create an environment where you can stimulate ideas. Let the SBS platform automatically trigger these conversations and put SBS champions in charge of driving this process;
  2. Create an open ideation group within your SBS Community. So that everyone is encouraged to participate and build on each other’s ideas;
  3. Get the champions to meet (virtually and in person), to discuss the ideas posted in the ideation and other groups. Empower them to take decisions on which ideas to take further and encourage them to give feedback. Be dynamic and be engaged. This is not intended to be another hierarchy;
  4. Great ideas need to get the green light. They need to have actions plans with timelines behind them to ensure they get successfully implemented. And the initiator needs to be acknowledged and encouraged to be part of the success team responsible for the implementation;
  5. The mandate given to the idea committee and the ideator gives them ownership of the success;  and
  6. Create an incentive scheme for great ideas. This can be done through senior management recognition, monetary rewards or both. These schemes can be done weekly, monthly or when projects are completed.

You have to work on a small win methodology… take small wins and let them become big wins over time.

It’s powerful stuff… this social business thing!

Gys is the Co-founder and CEO of WyseTalk (Pty) Ltd. Africa’s leading social business software platform. Gys’s Masters thesis entitled ‘The delay of Social business Software in the Enterprise and its effects’ has won him international acclaim.

The relevance of Social Business Software in the context of Soft Systems Methodology

Introduced to systems thinking during my EMBA, I have been a total convert for over three years now. In addition to creating a shift in my perceptions and the way in which I approach business and life in general, it was also the primary motivator behind the co-creation of a Social Business Software platform.

Social Business Software, SBS, creates an environment where systems thinking can be practiced and executed. Here’s what I mean.

The premise of Soft Systems Methodology, SSM, is that ‘whatever the nature of the organisation, assume that the individuals within it are pursuing purposeful activity.’

Now one would assume that all organisations today exist because they have a purposeful activity. Most, one would assume, are to keep stakeholders happy, to show growth and sustained profitability over time.

Why then, in so many organisations, are the alignments of the individuals within the organisation often conflicted with the purposeful activity of the enterprise as a whole?

The successful deployment of Social Business Software within an organisation seeks to align the organisations purposeful activity with that of the individuals within. It seeks, in a virtual setting, to merge the silo’s that exist within the enterprise and to some extent the hierarchy, by creating a virtual space for the enterprise. SBS requires trust and leaders who believe that the people in their companies really matter. That they have great ideas, seen and experienced through a different lens and perspective, and that by allowing them to share these ideas and impart their knowledge it will eventually lead to a richer more aligned and productive enterprise.

SBS creates the virtual space for executives to make announcements, to drive the company’s objectives through their teams. Idea generation and knowledge sharing happen across departments and hierarchies and the organisation really has the opportunity to align its purposeful activities with that of its people.

Successfully deployed SBS within enterprises has returned amazing results:

  • 15% increase in employee productivity;
  • 2-4% bottom line improvement,
  • reduced email load by 21%,
  • reduced meetings by 16%,
  • reduced the time to find knowledge, expertise and best practices by 34%,
  • 24% decrease in employee turnover,
  • 61% increase in employee connectedness,
  • 38% increase in employee satisfaction,
  • increase in deal size by 5%,
  • increase in win rate by 12%,
  • decrease in RFP response time by 25%,
  • increase in number of deals per year by 8%,
  • decrease in deal cycle time by 22%,
  • increase in sales per rep. 13%,
  • reduction in staff turnover by 12%
  • increase in sales per rep by 13% .

Gys is the Co-founder and CEO of WyseTalk (Pty) Ltd. Africa’s leading social business software platform. Gys’s Masters thesis entitled ‘The delay of Social business Software in the Enterprise and its effects’ has won him international acclaim.