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KM past and present: making the most of your resources

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Connections that engage—enterprise social

The role of enterprise social networking is still evolving, but that type of application is gaining legitimacy. Three major purposes where it is finding use are:

  • employee engagement for purposes of knowledge sharing in general,
  • cross-team collaboration and getting out of silos for specific projects, and
  • awareness of corporate mission.

Some organizations decide to use a particular social software because it is part of an existing suite, such as Yammer when Microsoft Office is the primary work environment, but if not, the first step should be to identify the business goal. Some products are better suited for keeping in touch about tasks, while others are geared more toward ambient awareness. “Facebook Workplace is good for ambient awareness and team collaboration, but is not as project-oriented as Yammer and Jive,” says Carrie Basham Young, CEO of Talk Social to Me.

It is also important to understand employee profiles. “One thing to look at is whether the employees are in an office or out in the field,” Basham Young says. “In some cases, that will direct the choice of software.” Younger generations will find it more natural to use social media and adoption is likely to be higher. “The generation just entering the workforce has valuable knowledge to offer, but these individuals are less text-oriented than preceding generations, so offering a visual and video-oriented environment like Facebook Workplace in which to capture their inputs can be a big plus.”

The synergy and brainstorming that can result from brief bursts of exchanges will not be lost on the younger generation and will suit their interactive style more than traditional collaborative products alone. At the same time, organizations should find a way to capture and repurpose those insights through content management systems that will provide searchability and expertise location that reach beyond the obvious profiles.

UNICEF has been using Yammer for about eight years, having first deployed it when the company was a startup. The organization has a global workforce of 12,000, many of whom are working in deserts and jungles to provide humanitarian support. “They were an early adopter and it was a bold step at the time,” says Basham Young, “but the social interaction was not managed, so there were a lot of ‘untended gardens’ and the engagement rate was not as high as had been hoped for.”

In 2016, Talk Social to Me began a re-engagement program for Yammer, working with key knowledge specialists who aid in the transfer of knowledge between groups. Through a program of webinars and workshops, workers began to get engaged again. Within a few months, the engagement rate had tripled.

The choice to continue with Yammer was a logical one because UNICEF uses the Office 365 suite and wanted a solution that was integrated with SharePoint, where employees were posting their content in document libraries. However, that is just part of the story. “It is important to match the tool to the environment,” says Basham Young, “but ultimately, engagement depends on the process for introducing and supporting it.”

Scale that performs—extracting value from dark data

According to Forrester, companies make active use of less than half the information they have available and analyze only 12 percent. One oil company that wanted to do more with its resources decided to see what value it could extract from some research documents it had stored. The documents were well logs, which provide a record of events when an exploratory borehole is drilled. They include a description of geological structures and a record of data collected on electrical, acoustic, radioactive and electromagnetic properties encountered.

The well logs, although converted to electronic format, were in an odd size—five inches wide and 2 feet long, spanning several pages and in multiple formats (TIFF/PDF/CAD), which made the data hard to access. Additionally, there were many duplicate records, and the content was difficult to classify because its appearance did not provide good differentiators among categories of data. The company used the Adlib Elevate platform to digitally prepare, extract, classify and de-duplicate the information contained in the well logs. That made the content manageable and data shareable and allowed analysis that helped support business decisions such as whether to sell the well or re-drill.

“A lot of information is locked in unstructured data sources,” says Roger Beharry Lall, director of market strategy at Adlib. “For example, contract documents may have information that would be useful if stored in a structured database but is challenging to find in the original format. Adlib can categorize the contracts by business criteria: those over $1 million or that meet a certain date range or are missing a signature.” Adlib Progressive Classification has the ability to learn from each new set of documents and improve its automated classification over time. The takeaway is that sometimes organizations just need to organize their haystack to find the needle.

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