Ignore Technology

I posted a tweet recently that one of the lessons learnt in the implementation of our Enterprise Social Network (ESN) was “Ignore Technology”. I think it confused some people, it sounds wrong, afterall an ESN is technology. Isn’t it?

It’s true that we spent a long time thinking a lot about the technology; from infrastructure and hosting, to functionality, to user experience and design.

But if I think about what a successful ESN is those aren’t the things I think of, if I talk to new users or to managers those things do not come up in conversation. Trust me the fasted way to kill interest in an ESN is talk about the infrastructure behind it.

It’s much more important to focus on the people using the ESN, they’ll be the ones truly making it a success. Here’s a handy guide from Joyce Hostyn demonstrating the difference in the questions you’ll face with a people-centric approach vs a technology-centric approach.

technology-centric vs people-centric

technology-centric vs people-centric

Of course you cannot have an Enterprise Social Network without technology, of course the project implementation phase is focused on making the technology work. And I’m genuinely convinced that bad technology and bad user design are demotivating. But good technolgy and great design are not enough. In fact technology in many digital or intranet projects is comparable to a hygeine factor in Herzberg’s two factor model of motivation. It is not a case of “If you build it they will come”.

My not-so-secret KPI for the success of Buzz (our ESN) is this.

It will be a success when it is just the way we work.

The conversations I have about building adoption are about what’s in it for the user, what business purpose an Enterprise Social Network might have, how can community managers and leaders get the most out of it. We almost never talk about technology. Very occasionally a user might propose a functional change but that’s the most I ever talk about technology.

I think a successful ESN means a culture change in many large companies, and making it successful means relentless attention to answering “what’s in it for me?” for all the people using the technology.

Image; Technology centric vs people centric /Joyce Hostyn/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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