Although many organizations treat it as such, Social Media (Web 2.0) is not only for non-work activities. Social Media has a huge role to play in enhancing internal organizational effectiveness in the form of heightened Knowledge Management and communications. Below are listed three Social Media technologies which organizations may use to enhance internal operations.
Blogs are inexpensive to set up and maintain and are excellent for knowledge sharing. Organizations often use Intranet pages to convey communication on specific topics but Intranet pages aren’t normally collaborative in nature nor kept up to date. The advantage of a Blog is that people actively engage through posting comments or posts rather than being passive viewers of information.
Blogs are generally best used for Knowledge Management when they focus on a specific activity or project. For example, if an organization is bidding for a specific piece of work, it will be of huge value if a Blog is set up in the early stages. As the Bid progresses to, hopefully, an operational piece of work, the knowledge from the Bid won’t be lost as it will all be captured in the Blog.
Organizations generally just doesn’t ‘get’ Twitter. Twitter is incredibly popular and is growing in size rapidly. Twitter has captured the imagination of many individuals but organizations still have to adopt Twitter in any sizeable way. Twitter is about sharing information quickly (tools such as Twitter are generally termed microblogging tools). Twitter is much like SMS via your mobile / cell phone where the messages are short and quick to write and transmit (A post is called a Tweet in Twitter ‘speak’). Twitter goes one step further by enabling conversations of these microblogs to take place between multiple interested parties and is accessible via various mediums e.g. RSS, SMS, Instant Messaging, Twitter home page etc.
I was recently at a technology conference where most of the audience were engaged in a conversation on Twitter whilst the various speakers presented. In essence there was a conversation occurring on Twitter as the presentation was happening meaning that the audience was discussing the presentation content in real-time. Via Twitter it is possible to share information very quickly among interested people. Business is speeding up and micro-blogs (of which Twitter is the most popular) is a key component in this regard.
Wikis are essentially Knowledgebases where people are able to publish, edit and share information. They are collaborative in nature and differ from blogs in that other contributors content may be edited. Wikis are hugely advantageous in organizations where the culture centres on knowledge sharing. The most popular Internet Wiki is Wikipedia however the majority of Wikis are internal to organizations (i.e. not visible via the Internet). As with Blogs, Wikis are inexpensive and simple to maintain.
It doesn’t cease to amaze me how organizations complain how difficult it is to find information. Wikis are the simple and logical solution to this common complaint
Many decision makers within organizations doubt the benefit and effectiveness that tools such as those described above will offer. These decision makers generally haven’t used the tools and therefore aren’t aware of the incredible possibilities available (how many decision makers in your organization really understand the opportunities afforded by collaborative Web 2.0 tools?). I recommend that organizations start to build capabilities in knowledge sharing as described above. The tools are inexpensive to implement or engage with and are very simply trialled. Sooner or later your organization is going to have to start to use these or other similar tools so why not get the advantages as early as possible?