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Do you have the patience for social business?

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Do you have the patience for social business?

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Yesterday I wrote about the important role process innovation plays in the shift towards becoming a social business.  Technology may very well be enabling us to collaborate and innovate better than before, but in reality it will be process improvements that really see those improvements materialize.

The thing is, these shifts can take an awfully long time to occur.  Some of the changes affect the very fundamentals at the heart of how an organization is run.  Changing them is a much bigger endeavour than simply investing in some new technology.

A paper published by Erik Brynjolfsson and Lorin Hitt at the height of the dot-com era emphasizes the point nicely.  They studied the investment in technology at over 600 companies to try and gauge how long it took before that investment turned into noticeable improvements in either productivity or profitability.

It found that it was typical for such an investment to require between 5 and 7 years to deliver decent productivity improvements.  That’s 5 to 7 years of time and effort to ensure that the processes, systems and all of the other things that complement a major technological investment are in place.

Indeed, the paper suggests that for every dollar spent on technology, organizations need to spend another $9 on these other things.  That’s investment into training, business process redesign, new software and so on.

Suffice to say, this investment in digitization at the turn of the millennium has subsequently been proved a very wise investment indeed, with productivity gains were seen across industries, and at a higher rate than pretty much any previous period.

At the moment however, much of the investment in social tools and technologies have not translated into the commercial gains expected of them.  A big part of that is down to the lag between technology investment and business process redesigns, training and all of the other complementary things that are required to ensure that our organizations become more collaborative.

If you are embarking on the journey towards social business, it is not a journey that will be concluded swiftly.  It’s a journey that will require patience and persistence from you to undertake the organizational changes required to provide the platform for your employees to operate at their best.  Stick with it though, as I think the rewards will be significant for those that do.

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