In this episode I discuss with Jim Claussen, IBM Social Business Practice, what is a connected enterprise and why it’s good for business. We began our discussion with a definition of the connected enterprise.
The connected enterprise is any organization in private industry or government that combines the culture of openness with the technology of an enterprise collaboration platform. The purpose of the connected enterprise is to allow people to connect and work together in an open and unified manner to tackle problems and work collaboratively across the entire enterprise. It’s connected knowledge so that collectively the organization can bring the best thinking to their customers. The connected enterprise requires a culture that embraces this kind of way of working.
Sounds pretty logical, right? What’s the catch? None….Really….
Jim shares that IBM CEO Ginni Rometty says (paraphrasing) “it’s not about what you know, it’s about what you share.” What she is saying in part is that it’s more than okay to tap into the collective mindshare and talents of work colleagues to get work done.
The Value of the Connected Enterprise
Individually we know a certain amount about a certain set of things. In a connected enterprise, the answers to questions can be crowdsourced to get the best possible answer to a question or problem. Customers can get the best answer from the collective knowledge of the connected enterprise. The connected enterprise brings great value to it customers, employees, partners by providing the best answers to questions through a collaborative workforce.
The organization needs to be intentional and purposeful to redefine its culture to be smarter as an organization. It creates boundaries of what is acceptable and not acceptable in collaboration, in the spirit of getting work done. The connected enterprise should create a blueprint that is modeled by leadership so that it gets ingrained into the organization’s culture.
There is a necessary relationship between change management and the connected enterprise. Change management requires collaboration among key stakeholders or change agents, to accelerate the connected enterprise. When people are connected, they can have an organic dialogue that can be very efficient. The feedback from the connected group can influence outcomes more quickly without regard for time zones, geography and (depending on the culture) without regard for hierarchy. The better connected employees are, the faster it can happen.
While every organization has an organizational hierarchy, in the connected enterprise there is a “wirearchy,” which it the anti-thesis of a hierarchy. A wirearchy occurs through natural connections without regard for organizational structure, which organically leads to influencers who can lead at any level of the organization.
The Connected Enterprise Drives Innovation
The process of innovation is enabled in a connected enterprise. Everyone gets an equal voice. Everyone can share ideas in a democratized way through features such as forums. Ideas can be discussed and iterated with ease. Discussions are enabled faster. Concepts are vetted more quickly. Ideas are iterated. The connected enterprise enables accelerated ideation through the culture and the ability for second and third degree connections to join conversations that can result in innovation.
The Path to the Connected Enterprise
The path to becoming a connected enterprise requires people, process and technology. The shift begins with culture and leadership support. Beyond that, it requires a connected enterprise platform such as IBM Connections or others like it. Everyone needs access to the platform. It must foster intentional guidance to the company’s strategic plan to become an effective connected enterprise. Leadership must participate and lead by example. They must role model the connected enterprise to help people understand the “why” and how it impacts people’s roles. Leaders should help employees understand how being connected helps them do their job more effectively, helping people to make the mindset shift.
Jim’s response to my “one thing” question revolves around the power of the wirearchy in driving the best possible answers a company has to offer. For a full explanation of the power of the wirearchy listen to my entire interview with Jim Claussen by clicking the play button at the top of this post, or listen on your mobile device through iTunes or Stitcher.
Connect with Jim Claussen on LinkedIn, or on his website The Executive Social Academy and where you can find his podcast from Selling to Serving. Jim will also be at the Ted @ IBM event on September 23, 2014.