Realtime engagement in action…

If we strip away some of the hype and mystery surrounding social media and the emerging social technology landscape, you will see two core elements that in my view are the two fundamental building blocks:

Real time communication and Collaboration

Look around and you see these elements as key drivers in most of the emerging technology that pervades our lives, both personally as consumers and also as professionals, particularly if you work in the field of customer engagement or marketing. However, HR Tech seems to be dragging its heals somewhat. Is this a feature of the professions general angst and aversion to “social” generally?

Lets take employee engagement as an example. It’s a top subject right now and it seems that a day doesn’t go by without yet more research coming out that articulates the link between a highly engaged workforce and superior business performance.So in theory, employee engagement would seem a natural place to embed the core principles of real time communication and collaboration would it not? Sure, we have enterprise level collaboration/community solutions already in platforms like Jive,Lithium, Telligent, Yammer etc. and you could argue that embedding these into the organisation has a knock on effect on engagement.

However, at a more granular level, when you look at the tools out there that are specifically targeted at helping you measure and manage engagement these principles are lacking.

We are still working to structured, linear questionnaires aimed at eliciting responses to specific questions crafted by the organisation. Structured linear questions get structured linear answers, which are great for the data, but not so good at creating engagement, or, in fact, getting to the nub of what is preventing the organisation achieving the levels of engagement that it is striving for. The best we generally get is a space for open questions/statements but often these are not analysed properly and also, in isolation, these comments can often be dismissed because only one or two people raised a particular issue.

Couple this linear, non collaborative approach with the fact that these surveys are mostly done annually, with a then three month wait for the results to be published before any actions are taken and it starts to feel incredibly clunky. What we need is something more realtime and collaborative. Something that allows more open conversation, opinion and observation but which also allows us to draw some familiar analytics. Cue tumbleweed from the HR Tech industry…..

I have come across only one solution in the past year that gets anywhere close which is being used by a guy called Michael Silverman at Silverman Research.

Disclaimer Alert! Well there isn’t one actually. He’s not a client and I’m not a blogger for hire – I’m not that cheap ;)

I just really like his stuff and have seen nothing like it anywhere else. Michael has pioneered some new technology and approaches both with clients like Unilever but also in open projects like The Garden.

The technology allows you to ask the questions you would normally ask in employee surveys, but crates a collaborative environment within which employees can review each others responses, submit their own view, rate the responses and see how their own view compare to those of the wider group. It’s interesting stuff and the closest thing I have seen yet to brining together traditional analytics with real time collaboration.

If you want to know more you can hear some of the Stuff Michael has been doing at Social Media Week as he is running an event featuring the Unilever projects. I will be there too, as a panel member so feel free to say hi.

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