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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How Social Business Software connects and enables distributed teams

In today’s operating environment the ability to bring dispersed teams together is becoming a critical business advantage.

Teams (focused on, for example, software development or support) often operate from scattered locations, their collaboration fittingly facilitated by technology. It is a time-honoured and cost-effective way of sourcing the best talent and input without having to hire for every new requirement or delay development due to a lack of available skills.

A jumble of bug and ticket tracking, communication and collaboration tools supports the intense interactions and vital outcomes of such teams. But do these tools represent the best technology has to offer?

Missing context

In short, they don’t.

While these tools do a great job of connecting teams and managing the flows and processes of projects and tasks, their ‘softer’ shortcomings are apparent in a virtual setting. Essentially, they do not offer a means to replicate the rich collaboration and knowledge transfer that naturally happens in teams that are physically close.

This problem can be overcome by using social business software (SBS) to augment the interactions of technology teams.

How does SBS help?

SBS tools use social media concepts such as newsfeeds, focus groups and messaging to facilitate conversations on topics of shared interest in organisational communities, thus bringing the ambience of physically close teams to virtual teams.

As one would share food, health, travel and shopping discoveries on social media, so developers like to talk shop in a social sphere. Leading SBS tools make it easy to share, document and manage approaches, methods and discoveries, thereby enriching collaboration and knowledge transfer and supporting hard project, or support, deliverables.

By comparison, tools that have a familiar place in the tech department, such as Jira and Basecamp, are highly structured — a digital checklist.

They set out the necessary workflows and ticket items that allow teams to keep track of software project deliverables, but do little to capture and use high-value learnings from conversations, such as fault-finding and trouble-shooting, reflection, user-feedback and retained learning which naturally occur within a development environment.

Talk AND action

This doesn’t mean that SBS is all talk and no action. Conversations can be both structured and spontaneous, and it’s easy to separate the two as important threads naturally prevail. Incorporation of hashtags and @ signs further allow for easy trends analysis and the search of conversations.

Another problem with using only traditional project tools is the limited scope given to users. Tickets are assigned to a limited number of people, which puts the talents of others out of range when seeking solutions to problems.

SBS tools, by contrast, allow questions to be put to a broader audience. It has often been our experience that someone in an organisation comes up with a breakthrough idea without being personally involved in a project.

SBS tools are also immensely useful with ‘on-boarding’ new team members, whether they are new recruits, temporary consultants or on secondment from within the company. A new member can easily go into conversation histories to check team members and their remits, contributions over time and a lot of other facets affording insight into how the team operates.

Someone who inherits an empty email inbox does not have quite the same advantage. (Nor does a ticket-based system give one the opportunity to delve into learnings as and when needed. Induction programmes would do well to adopt SBS as a means to access materials long forgotten as they become relevant to the new recruit again.)

Virtual organisations

These benefits are equally valid for tech teams within and outside organisations, for example working on open source, bespoke or community-based projects.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, even entire technology development firms can benefit from SBS as a business enabler combining onsite and remote working from different locations.

This kind of working arrangement can continue where necessary, not as a defining configuration, but as one that lends flexibility and speed to market responses. This sort of power and flexibility will find resonance with almost any organisation or association of individuals.

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.

Generation Y and the effect on the enterprise

Generation Y has been the subject of many workplace studies. Ys are criticised for being overly conscious of their value to the organisation and “too precious” about the myriad career choices open to them. On the other hand, they have also justly been credited with driving much of today’s technology-led innovation.

This is in large part due to their prodigious consumption of information — and equally prolific record of contributing to knowledge — both as innovators in their own right and in their preference for open, collaborative new ways of communicating, which tends to spur innovation.

Good thing
Thus it would seem that a workforce of young turks who question and try out everything can be a very good thing. And indeed my research and experience of such work environments bears this out. In reality, however, a complex array of factors comes into play when young blood enters the system. Mirroring the good and bad of Gen Y-ers themselves, their impact tends to be both energising and stressful.

In this context, organisations can use social business software (SBS) very effectively to mitigate the impacts of generational renewal while managing a positively balanced outcome – characterised by open innovation on the one hand and a robust security posture on the other.

Tale of two (inverse) cycles
The impact of upping your Gen-Y staff component works in two opposite cycles:

Cycle 1 — restricting
As organisations increase their Gen Y staff component, a generation gap may open up. Different behaviours, communication approaches and viewpoints separate older generations and Generation Y-ers, with the latter group generally exposed to a vastly bigger array of media and educational opportunities, as well as a more global formative environment.

New hires often experience difficulty in dealing with older generations. With the latter group markedly less open to accepting others, trust levels in the organisation tend to drop.

The very presence of Y-ers in the enterprise can further be considered major change, as they bring with them a greater reliance on technology and open communication, and a quick but non-linear style of processing information. This invariably leads to a stricter information security stance, which in turn necessitates adaptation of enterprise risk management policy frameworks, to protect social systems from unauthorised, unanticipated or unintentional modification.

Ultimately, this puts a dampener on the zeal and dynamism of the Gen Y mind-set of an organisation and minimises their positive contribution.

Cycle 2 — balancing
But the new generation’s affinity for technology tends to work in the opposite direction too, allowing Gen Y-ers to come into their own and make a self-reinforcing contribution to their organisations. It starts in this way: as organisations increase their Gen Y component, they often experience an increase in the adoption of SBS. By way of elucidation, it must be noted that social media can be organised into four categories – communication, collaboration, multimedia and edutainment platforms. This means organisations will often in such cases see improved collaboration and communication, increased efficiencies, and project savings.

This generally leads to heightened levels of open innovation, allowing organisations to maximise their knowledge resources by extending collaboration to partners outside the confines of enterprise boundaries.

Ultimately, the use of both internal and external capabilities in solving problems or creating new products, assets or channels greatly improve organisations’ competitive standing and chances of survival.

Resolving the conflict
In effect, it is a virtuous cycle that ends (and begins) with an increase in the Gen-Y mindset in the organisation. The positive cycle succeeds in balancing out the negative one, but it is SBS that stands central to organisations’ ability to turn mutually destructive forces into positive, self-reinforcing change.

As companies try to cope with new markets, technologies, attitudes and behaviours, SBS is their best chance to embrace change and rally a new generation of millennials to ensure their continued success.

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.

This article was first published in the memeburn.com site:

http://memeburn.com/2013/10/social-media-can-seriously-unlock-the-value-of-gen-y-employees-heres-how/

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.