The business case for a social office white paper


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The social office is a term used to describe a new kind of working environment for information workers who discharge their role largely online (so-called web workers). These are people for whom information capture, analysis and sharing is integral to their role and is facilitated by the use of modern online web-based socially oriented technologies and collaboration tools.
A social office represents a seed-change in perceptions of what an ‘office workplace’ looks like and how it operates underpinning by the:
1. Adoption of new working practises in the office workspace
2. Expanded use of online social and collaborative technologies
3. Emergence of strategies to gain economic advantage and operational excellence from socially oriented online business communities

This paper examines the business case for a social online workplace.

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The business case for a social office white paper

  2. 2. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office Contents OVERVIEW...................................................................................................................................... 3 Adoption of new working practises in the office workspace...................................... 4 Expanded use of online social and collaborative technologies ................................. 7 Leveraging online communities ......................................................................................... 10 WHAT DOES A SOCIAL OFFICE LOOK LIKE? ................................................................... 11 ADOPTION CHALLENGES ....................................................................................................... 12 BUILDING A BUSINESS CASE FOR A SOCIAL OFFICE .................................................. 13 Building cohesion ...................................................................................................................... 14 Creating communities and harvesting social ties ......................................................... 14 Improving the productivity of project teams.................................................................. 16 Working on the same page ................................................................................................... 16 Bridging across silos of information .................................................................................. 17 To capture, analyze, present and share content in smarter ways ........................... 17 Improve the utilization of knowledge and corporate information assets ........... 18 BOTTOM–LINE COST SAVINGS ............................................................................................ 19 Environmental savings............................................................................................................. 19 Time savings (productivity gains)........................................................................................ 19 Reductions in paper usage .................................................................................................... 20 Contact information ................................................................................................................. 23© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 2
  3. 3. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office OVERVIEW The social office is a term used to describe a new kind of working environment for information workers who discharge their role largely online (so-called web workers). These are people for whom information capture, analysis and sharing is integral to their role and is facilitated by the use of modern online web-based socially oriented technologies and collaboration tools. A social office represents a seed-change in perceptions of what an ‘office workplace’ looks like and how it operates underpinning by the: 1. Adoption of new working practises in the office workspace 2. Expanded use of online social and collaborative technologies 3. Emergence of strategies to gain economic advantage and operational excellence from socially oriented online business communities This paper examines the business case for a social online workplace.© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 3
  4. 4. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office Adoption of new working practises in the office workspace In the latter years of the 20th century, information workers expected to discharge their work in a corporate office. This bricks and mortar perspective “The bricks and of ‘the office workplace’ has today become less of a reality for many people mortar perspective of that perform information-working roles. Presented with online and mobile ‘the office workplace’ access to information and applications, many information workers find has today become themselves more productive when they balance work time between office less of a reality for locations; including the home office where sometimes they will typically work many people…” for one or two days a week. Drivers for smarter ways of working are partly encouraged by the growing capabilities of web-based software tools and mobile phones that enable people to communicate with colleagues and customers wherever they might be. Distance and location has become less of a barrier to productivity. Many employers are playing their part to encourage a change in workforce operating behaviours towards smarter working. They identify the economic and environmental rewards that come from helping workers to play it smart when planning where they work in the week. Why increase costs (plus environmental impact) and lose time by commuting to the office every day if you don’t need to physically be there? Another big reason why employers are listening to their employees on matters of smarter working practises is the fact that, despite a world population of 1.174 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24, it’s estimated there simply aren’t enough Generation Y workers to meet future employment demands. “It’s information While employer attitudes and technologies are influencing factors, it’s workers themselves information workers themselves who are pushing for a change in workforce who are pushing for a operating behaviours. Workers today are more time conscious, tech savvy and change in workforce environmentally aware than ever before. They don’t want to waste time in a operating daily commute when they know they’re just as capable of working from behaviours…” another location to discharge their role – such as their home office, coffee house or a more local branch of the business they work for. Event driven workers Time awareness is very different to new generations accustomed to instant rewards when they play digital games, swap Instant Messages with friends or watch fast-paced action movies. An on-demand consumer world is driving expectations in the workplace for a working environment that is equally instant. No surprise that when new generations of information workers meet a slow-paced working environment and find themselves being asked to commute to an office miles away that serves no greater purpose than their© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 4
  5. 5. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office downstairs cubby hole, they question the logic of these entrenched operating behaviours. “Rather than seek a Rather than seek a lifetime commitment to a single employer, information lifetime commitment to workers increasingly view work as a series of project-based engagements. In a single employer, fact, the nature of business has itself become more project oriented and event information workers increasingly view work driven. With a wealth of cross-organizational projects (many of which extend role as a series of beyond the enterprise), senior executives very often find themselves managing project-based projects, teams and outcomes rather than a dedicated staff. These factors engagements…” endorse and support beliefs of information workers that they need to protect their own best interest by developing their social relationships and grow their support networks so that they can help themselves step up the career ladder. Self-confident computer users Computer literacy in workers is higher today than it has ever been. Computing is assumed to play a role in most professions and is integral to the education syllabus of most countries. A 2009 Canadian Survey* of people entering the workplace from tertiary education found that the majority saw themselves as computer literate and able to serve themselves with the information they need. This self-confidence in computing ability has been nurtured by major mobile and Internet platform providers like Apple, Vodafone, Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Yaho that provide easy to use tools individuals can learn themselves to use and work with data. The consequence of this self-confidence in computing skills is that information workers feel – given access to appropriate tools – they’re perfectly capable of serving themselves with the information they need to discharge their roles online, no matter where they may be physically located. *Approximately 69 per cent of the more than 1,000 people surveyed in Freedom to Compute: The Empowerment of Generation Y said they regard themselves as highly proficient computer users. This was particularly true among those between 18 and 29 with a postgraduate degree, 80 per cent of whom said they were highly proficient. Men also tended to rate their IT expertise highly at 77 per cent. Those who earn more than $100,000 annually thought they had a good grasp of computing hardware and software compared to those who earned less than $50,000. Environmentally aware-workers The so-called Generation Y (18- to 25-year olds) just entering, or poised to enter, the workforce aren’t likely to be satisfied with drab cubicles and wasteful corproate practises that harm the environment. This highly educated, mobile© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 5
  6. 6. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office “Gen-Y wants a and tech-savvy group wants a workplace that is an extension of their college workplace that is an campus and that’s like them: urban, flexible, collaborative, environmentally extension of their sensitive and unconventional according to a study published in May 2010 by college campus and Johnson Controls Inc. of 3,011 18- to 25-year-olds in the United States, UK that’s like them…” Germany, India and China. With the Baby Boomers retiring and millions fewer in the younger generations to replace them in the workforce in the US, UK and Western Europe, employers are trying hard to understand what makes Gen Y tick. Changing information worker cultural attitudes Attitudes* of new generations entering the workplace (currently Generation Y) towards employment relationships, social interaction, communications and environment are vastly different to preceding generations. A growing number of people in the workplace (something like 30% according to recent surveys) expect to have access to the social networking tools they’re accustomed to using when ‘out of the office’. But while organizations may be reluctant to consider adoption of social tools, a shortage of information workers entering the job market means that great competition exists for talent. This gives Generation Y far more influence on how the world of work they are entering should cater for their needs. Oxygenz is a research project led by Global Workplace Innovation to understand how important the future workplace is to generations in the workplace. The research gathered information from 5,000 students at universities worldwide, and young employees from a range of professions since February 2008. Oxygenz aims to understand how important the workplace is to Generation Y and what factors employers, designers, facilities managers need to take into account. According to its findings, 18- 25 year-olds view the office as an extension of their home life, impacting the demands on employers requiring leading talent to stay competitive. The consequence of this belief that work-life should be considered ‘an extension of the social day rather than a prison cell where noone enters and noone leaves until clocking off time’ is that employee attitudes towards social rights are at odds with organizational demands for data security, 100% commitment to the job while employed and the clear separation of work and “The best talent now home life. comes with the unwanted baggage of embedded social Unfortunately for employers that retain a traditional mindset of how the networking behaviour.” relationship between staff and organizations should work, the best talent now© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 6
  7. 7. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office comes with this unwanted baggage of a natural human tendancy to want to network. Online social networking technologies provide a new vehicle to make social networking easier – and it’s habit forming. Fears of the negative impact of social networking behaviours in the office are not helped by media reports that suggest well known platforms like Facebook are causing workers to loose something like 1.5 percent of their productivity. A 2009 research paper from Nucleus Research reported that organizations were at risk of loosing 1.5 percent of productive time because their workers were using Facebook at work. The research company interviewed 237 randomly selected office workers about their Facebook use and also found that the social network is being used as an alternative e-mail platform to Outlook and similar applications. The research company reported that seventy-seven percent of these workers had a Facebook account, with nearly two-thirds of those users accessing Facebook for at least 15 minutes a day during working hours. “Many organizations As the result of concerns over productivity (no doubt encouraged by press are now adopting reports like the one above) many organizations are attempting to implement Dickensian steps to attempt to halt the tide blanket bans on social networking tools. But this Dickensian approach to of on premises social preventing social collaboration is unlikely to yield a long-term answer given networking.” that it doesn’t change the desire of Generation Y to network; or their belief that it’s within their rights to do so. Emergant socially oriented working practises Rather than attempt to stem the tide, enlightened business leaders are exploring how they can provide information workers with secure and live online spaces that empower workers to serve themselves with the information, business applications, and rich social collaborative tools they need to be more productive; measured not through greater output of files or documents, but by their contributions to projects, team activities and outcomes. Expanded use of online social and collaborative technologies A raft of new computing technologies has emerged in the last decade that provide web-workers with richer acces to information online, and tools that enable capture, analysis, presentation and sharing of content.© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 7
  8. 8. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office Use of social networking applications designed to serve online communities such as Facebook, Twitter, MSN, Myspace and Google Maps have become impregnated into social activity. “Underpinning these Underpinning these technologies are more fundamental innovations in the technologies are more way applications can be served to online and mobile users. Core web fundamental operating systems such as Microsoft ASP.NET have made dramatic innovations in the way applications can be improvements in their designg to enable a much broader community of served to online and entrepreneurs to find ways of serving their customer groups with secure and mobile users…” live online applications and workspaces. A key technology step-change emerged early in the 21st century with the emergence of AJAX (Asynchronous Java and XML); a technology innovation that essentially means that browsers no longer need to refresh an entire page of data when only specific components are affected by a change. Programmers are today able to design user interfacing applications that refresh only one component of a page whilst retaining the remaining components in the memory of the browser. This means that user experiences are more attractive and intuitive. It also means that response times online are much improved compared to earlier attempts to fashion applications for web workers. Investments by entreprenurs into what Generation Y wants are also having an impact on the types of approaches and technologies being introduced. Modern web-based applications technologies that enable users to serve themselves with information and applications have been grouped into a technology description called ‘Web 2.0’ suggesting that Web 1.0 was about URLs and finding information and Web 2.0 is about self-service and the self formation and organization of online communities. With the advantage of technologies like AJAX and ASP.NET, Web 2.0 applications provide a similar user interface quality consistent to installed desktop software. Whilst the majority of Web 2.0 applications and platforms designed for social networking have been targeted to the much larger consumer market for online tools, a new generation of software applications is now emerging built for business. In addition to the major technology providers like IBM and Microsoft, a new generation of Web 2.0 software publishers including Social Cast, Jackbe, Jive Software,, 37Signals, Zoho and Encanvas are introducing a new portfolio of tools that provide smarter ways of working for web workers.© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 8
  9. 9. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office Key genres of Web 2.0 software include:  Personal productivity tools (the equivalent of Microsoft Office online)  Collaboration tools for working together online on the same page  Wiki and blogging tools for self-publishing content  Geospatial mapping tools to locate entities on maps  Applications design tools  Data mashup tools that enable  Social networking tools that facilitate the sharing of user profiles and communications across online social communities. Some organizations like Google, Microsoft, and Encanvas provide web-based operating platforms able to provide the majority of these components in a single common architecture. “Fundamental to the Fundamental to the success of Web 2.0 software publishers is their security success of Web 2.0 provisioning including the secure management of data, systems and networks, software publishers is users and groups, intellectual property and digital assets. Organizations are their security provisioning…” encouraged by the IT press to heavily scrutinize the security and scalability of Web 2.0 online web working technologies in the belief that any system that extends people networks beyond the boundaries of the enterprise, must firstly ensure that data and networks are secure. This is a major challenge for Web 2.0 software vendors that is further complicated by the operating behaviours and incumbent systems that organizations already use. “The pace of adoption The pace of adoption of Web 2.0 technologies by businesses has so far been of Web 2.0 technologies relatively slow compared to its progress in consumer markets owing to by businesses has so far concerns over data security and accepted norms of procurement. Today, been relatively slow..” organizations are accustomed to purchasing software licenses and then instaling software on to their personal computers, networks and servers. But this market behaviour is also changing now that organizations are able to migrate their entire platforms to multi-tennant hosted services (what’s becoming known as cloud computing) whereby organizations are able to fully outsource their incumbent IT systems platforms to outsourced service providers). Web 2.0 technologies are gradually overcoming the operational performance, user experience, security, and norms of procurement behaviour obstacles that have prevented their adoption to this point. A tidal wave of new Web 2.0 software innovations is emerging at a time when the business world is seeking to find new ways of making its web-workers more productive. For most organizations, these innovations are not ‘walking in the front door’ but are being adopted and recommended by middle-managers and small teams that are quick to register the opportunities they offer and evidence their worth.© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 9
  10. 10. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office Leveraging online communities Faced with hyper-competitive global online markets, significant changes to regulatory and compliance standards and huge swings towards cost efficiency programmes, organizations today are being impacted by external forces that demand near-constant change in business plans and operating behaviours. Competitive advantage once embodied by trusted business models that rarely ever changed is now more transient. Sourcing a competitive advantage for an organization is expected by most leaders to come from speed-to-market, ability to optimally leverage assets and relationships or finding a great idea. “Communities play a Communities play a key role in this new world of competitive advantage. No key role in this new longer do organizations expect to deliver their full customer value alone; they world of competitive know they will have to depend on supplier partners, stakeholder groups, advantage..” channel partners – even customers to source the next competitive edge of their business. People and talent remain key weapons in the battle for competitive advantage. Teamworking, realizing and harvesting talent have become strategic priorities. But there’s a problem: As more information workers find themselves working remotely, and in consort with partners and customers, the practicality of working in a common office or geography becomes less plausible. Information workers need to be as productive as they know they can be no matter where they’re located. They need to communicate with online colleagues, access their information, tools and core business systems in the knowledge that their data is secure and the systems they use can be trusted. And they want to feel emotionally supported by their supervisors and colleagues; they want to feel a part of an ‘organization’ even though they might be drafting a report in an isolated cubicle, snatching time to update project plans in a café or preparing a proposal on the way to a meeting. For executives that need to keep staff on the same page, informed of new events and want to encourage ideas sharing and problem solving, traditional personal use desktop software productivity tools hold little reward. The world’s most popular office worker productivity tools - Microsoft Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint and Word - were designed for an era of personal productivity rather than online social collaboration. These tools are made available to individuals on their personal computers accessible through identity management systems built for an era when everyone in the team worked in the same building and were employed by the organization.© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 10
  11. 11. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office “Web 2.0 technologies The appearance of Web 2.0 technologies comes at a time when organizations come at a time when are keen to find better ways to nurture and support online web worker organizations are keen communities; providing tools and mechanisms to create secure and live to find better ways to nurture and support workspaces that extend people networks and processes beyond the traditional online web worker bricks and mortar boundaries of the enterprise. communities..” WHAT DOES A SOCIAL OFFICE LOOK LIKE? A social office is a way of working for information workers that is supported by a enabling technology platform. This new way of working is characterized by: Organizations having the ability to… Create, operate and harvest the talents and relationship potential of online communities Meet project resourcing needs by staffing on-demand by leveraging the specialist skills of their addressible online talent markets (whether they be inside or outside of the enterprise). Understand the talent and capabilities of their enterprise. Lever creative potential and ideas from their employees and online communities. Make sense of how their enterprise actually works rather than believing the structural picture presented by the organogram. Boost the productivity of workers by ensuring their activities are contributing to project activities and strategic outcomes. Web workers having the ability to… Serve themselves with user group design, information and applications without needing to re-key or re-purpose data. Discharge their role from any location by having access to their social networks, information, business systems, content and processes via a web browser or mobile phone.© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 11
  12. 12. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office Feel emotionally supported and part of a team; being kept informed of events and community activity through online contact and communications; abel to be on the same page as colleagues and customers at any time. Perform social processes online (in a similar way as people do today in an office environment). Managers having the ability to… Engender emotional intelligence and followership. Create and manage projects, create and supervise work teams. Provide mentoring and emotional support – without necessarily having to be present / in the same location. ADOPTION CHALLENGES It’s not easy for organizations to move from their traditional ways of working and familiar incumbent technologies like email and MS Outlook to the social office in a single jump. Vendors of social office technologies like Encanvas still lack the ability to provide customers with robust migration . “Current moves to Current moves to adopt social office approaches are haphazard and not seen adopt social office approaches are as a collective all-embracing shift to something new. Organizations are haphazard…” exploring specific pieces of the social office puzzle such as social networking, online collaboration, desk sharing, but none of these offerings so far present a coherent and complete technology platform to support the move to a social office approach. In addition, there are a number of roadblocks that organizations must overcome:  Security concerns over how data, systems and networks will be protected from attach or thoughtless misuse.  Cultural reluctance to change.  Poor management appreciation of the rewards of a social office.  Embedded belief systems like ‘I get my own desk when I get promoted’ and ‘I commute to the office every day because that’s what I do’.  Lack of confidence over the business benefits of a social office working.  IT leaders and teams that feel they are losing power, authority and/or control of IT in the enterprise© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 12
  13. 13. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office “..leaders attempting to These and other factors mean that leaders attempting to make progressive make progressive step step improvements towards may find their projects planted at the base of the improvements towards priority list even though a social office approach could make a significant may find their projects impact on project performance, costs and strategic outcomes. planted at the base of the priority list…” A typical roadmap for moving towards a social office approach includes: 1. Provisioning of a socially-oriented self-service IT architecture – designing information management strategy to organize and serve up data so that it can be consumed by workspace applications. This architecture must include provision of a federated identity management solution. 2. Selection of a social office portal platform calable of bringing people together on the same page by providing social profiling, social graphing, contact management, mashup and data self-service tools, collaborative tools, integrated communications etc. – key vendors include Google, Jive software, Encanvas, Social Cast, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and 3. Re-designing the IT function to re-assign business analysts to become Process Value Improvement Consultants able to re-educate and support end users with expertise on how to harness social office tools. BUILDING A BUSINESS CASE FOR A SOCIAL OFFICE What executives are now exploring are technology-enabled initiatives to solve a series of obstacles to smarter working for their web-workers. How to:  Build cohesion and a company ‘spirit’ that provides emotional support and informs colleagues on organizational matters and events  Create communities and harvest social ties (build a sense of community)  Improve the productivity of project teams  Give people the ability to work ‘on the same page’ no matter where they’re physically located  Bridge across silos of information  Capture, analyze, present and share content in smarter ways  Improve the utilization of knowledge and corporate information assets In this section we examine the business justification for each of these key changes to operating behaviour.© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 13
  14. 14. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office Building cohesion “Good leaders want to Good leaders want to create a cohesive workforce where individuals feel a create a cohesive deep bond with the organization they work for and are prepared to go ‘above workforce where an beyond’ obligatory effort levels in support of business activities. Creating individuals feel a deep bond with the this bond demands that leaders can provide emotional support to staff in organization they work addition to keeping them informed, providing practical tools and information for…” services. The reward for leaders that create an engaging, supportive environment for their workforce is normally measured by the things that DON’t HAPPEN such as – high levels of absenteeism (because workers don’t feel any emotional commitment towards their employer), lack of creativity and innovation, poor performing teams, a decaying quality of customer service, soured relationships, low levels of cooperation, difficulties in recruiting new talent and negativity towards improvement and change initiatives. Can these negative business impacts be measured in terms of a monetary cost to an organization? It’s true that many organizations are able to operate with all of these sub-optimal factors. Perhaps the bigger issue is not the short-term impact of a lack of cohesion but the long-term sustainability implications given that attempts to achieve operational excellence will inevitably be undermined. Creating communities and harvesting social ties The 21st business world is becoming a battle communities. Whether it’s winning the hearts and minds of employees, engaging with stakeholders and industry partners, collaborating with project teams or building online customer groups, communities perform an increasing role in business. For many industries, the focus of business success has moved from the value of assets to the number of clicks or customer relationships. The Internet makes it easier for organizations to stay in touch with their customers and feel more of a bond with the people and organizations they communicate with, while Web 2.0 technologies such as Wikis, Crowdsourcing tools and online chat systems make contributors feel more empowered. There are four major stages to the life-cycle of community management: 1. Formation 2. Operation 3. Harvesting 4. Sustaining© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 14
  15. 15. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office Formation Creating the community. This could be as simple as uploading a contact list and inviting everyone on it to join. But it’s more common for organizations not to know all of the potential individuals that go to make up a community. Therefore, individuals need to be alerted to the existence of a community and they need to be encouraged to join. Normally an individual’s consent will be needed to secure their involvement in a community. Security of the community will be a key factor. So too will be the terms of use of the community. And any online community demands a supporting platform that’s able to provide account administration and personalisation features. Normally the greatest challenge in forming a community is encouraging individuals to want to join. Participation in any community demands time and effort. Unless the personal rewards are obvious, savvy web workers are unlikely to want to expend effort. In most cases, its the existence and/or endorsement of other community members that convinces people to join an online community – so for any community, there will be a critical mass of members required to participate in order to secure its future. Operation The operation of a community demands that participants have access to useful “Increasingly, content and tools. Increasingly, participants want access to self-service participants want access features that enable them to capture, manipulate, sort, view, organize and to self-service features share their content. They may also value collaborative tools to enable sharing that enable them to of ideas, working together on documents, asking questions, booking facilities, capture, manipulate, managing schedules etc. sort, view, organize and share their content…” Harvesting Making the most of social ties is not a precise art, but there are clear benefits in understanding how social relationships work and having the ability to leverage bonds of trust between individuals to affect introductions and get things done. Modern online social office platforms provide social graphing tools that enable participants in a community to understand degrees of relationship tie separation, strength of ties, nature of ties etc. This insight helps participants to realize the full potential of their community and encourages them to grow their networking credentials and community relationships to achieve a wider breadth of influence. Sustaining Without frequent reasons to visit a community space – probably because of helpful insights, news, helpful organizer tools etc. - the value to participants of communities soon decays and attendance drops. Maintaining the energy and commitment to a community demands that managers and owners constantly© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 15
  16. 16. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office consider what matters most to the community in terms of value. Sometimes, in the case of internal team spaces for example, being attentive to community needs is not so easy and can itself become a burdon. What’s the monetary impact of underperforming community management tools? The answer to this question largely depends on the circumstances of the organization. Some enterprises depend more on their communities to drive success. The inability to harness online communities is somewhat more important to book publishers and research companies selling their intellectual property perhaps when compared to a bearing manufacturer. Nevertheless, all organizations have their communities (including shareholders, staff, customers, suppliers etc.) that can benefit from online collaborative and community development solutions. Improving the productivity of project teams Most organizations have adopted project-based behaviours in their operations given the significant numbers of cross-organizational and collaborative activities that now happen. The adoption of outsourcing and shared service strategies to support non-core strains of business activity have perpetuated the need for project portfolio management and tools to manage and coordinate the activities of project teams. Web 2.0 secure and live portals powered by data mashup tools enable project teams to acquire data from back-office systems and office files to bring together information needed to support project activities. “Social networking and Working on the same page collaboration tools bring project teams together Social networking and collaboration tools bring project teams together on the on the same page ” same page so they can work more efficiently together nomatter where they’re located. People are able to use mapping and data visualization tools to work on the same page and see landscapes of their business in a single holistic view that exposes events and non conformities in data behaviours. Use of these sorts of tools enable web workers to make sense of large volumes of data and not get overwhelmed by the large amounts of data on the Internet. Web workers are able to make more informed decisions on the data they’re looking at and are often able to dramatically reduce the time spent on analysis; particulalry when analysis typically involves referencing multiple systems.© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 16
  17. 17. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office Bridging across silos of information It’s common for information workers to struggle to access the important data they need from business systems because it’s not accessible to them. This accessibility problem may be caused by:  Knowledge – The person wanting the data doesn’t know it exists.  IT bottlenecks– either technical weaknesses, resource capacity issues or just the unwillingness of an IT function or provider to want to help.  Skills – The person wanting to use the data doesn’t know how to use the tools they’ve been provided with to access it.  Format – The format of the file is incompatible or not presented in the right way – so it has to be re-purposed  Tools – The tools provided to the user  Security – A security policy prevents an individual from accessing the data they need (this might be a legimate policy or could just be the consequence of poort user and group security governance)  Other operational silos not being prepared to share their data Whatever the reason why a user is prevented from accessing the data they need, the consequences to operational effectiveness are likely to be these:  Users are required to invest time in re-keying and repurposing data.  ‘Shadow systems’ are created by users making best use of the available desktop tools they have access to in order to fashion, organize and analyze data.  Poor decisions are made because of an absence of insights.  Projects and activities don’t happen because people can’t get their jobs done without having access to the data they need.  Paper documents and forms are used as a conduit between systems to paste over the cracks in systems that don’t speak to one another.  Labor intensive approaches are adopted to overcome weaknesses in data flows.  Opportunities are missed to do better things because managers and workers are unable to exploit the knowledge their organization posseses. “In the absence of useful tools to work To capture, analyze, present and share content in smarter ways with databases and make sense of data, In the absence of useful tools to work with databases and make sense of data, desktop tools like desktop tools like spreadsheets, wordprocessing document and presentation spreadsheets become tools become the defacto ‘best-fit’ answer to re-using and re-purposing data the defact answer to re- for information workers. The challenge this represents is that data held in using and re-purposing data.” these containers is not secure. Another wasteful aspect of this approach is that© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 17
  18. 18. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office data is consistently re-purposed in order to make sense of it, summarize it or present it. Some organizations employ dedicated analysts simply to re- gurgitate information in this fashion (and recently, the U.S. Military has been in the news because of its war on Powerpoint claiming that the organization has become so dependent on PowerPoint as a conduit for data interchange and discovery that it’s become an operational overhead, creates the ‘illustion of understanding and being in control’ and represents a major security threat). A fundamental improvement in information management happens when data held in unstructured forms such as paper documents, and quasi-informal forms such as PowerPoint slides and Word documents, becomes organized in relational databases. It’s recognized that up to 60% of corporate information resides in forms beyond the control of IT because it’s not held in databases. When data exists beyond the database it’s very difficult to re-use and just as difficult to protect. But ask the average office worker whether they could create a database by themselves and most would still say no. Tools used to create databases are designed for business analysts and database developers, not users. New enterprise mashup tools and point-and-click database design and reporting applications are progressively pushing back the boundaries on what users can do to serve themselves with databases. Given access to these tools through social office systems, web workers are better equipped to use data held in its source without having to create quasi-unstructured content. This not only increases the usefulness of the data for the specific application, but it normally leads to data being enriched or improved as the consequence of its use. Improve the utilization of knowledge and corporate information assets “Organizations lack the Organizations lack the basic tools to leverage their corporate intelligence. basic tools to leverage Workers are more likely today to use Google to search for documents that their corporate workers know they’ve referenced before than to scour intranet systems. One of intelligence.” the major challenges information workers face is the difficulties in accessing and making sense of data held on disparate IT systems designed to serve a specific purpose. Often the data structures of these databases are such that users aren’t familiar with where data is held or how they can access it. Improving the ability of users to access data makes a huge impact on their productivity. Data can become much more valuable when referecned against other data. Enterprise mashup tools and geo-spatial referencing of data can bring new value to data that’s sitting around the enterprise’ under-utilized.© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 18
  19. 19. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office BOTTOM–LINE COST SAVINGS For organizations there are substaintial bottom-line rewards to be gained by adopting a social office culture and platform: Environmental savings  Collaborative tools (see Webshow360 from Encanvas) mean that staff make fewer trips to meet with colleagues, partners or customers because they can share documents online.  Workers have less reason to meet to attend meetings or commute to the office given that they have access to their people networks, systems and processes from anywhere via their web browser.  Social office technology platforms are web-based and are normally deployed on hosted cloud platforms which means organizations do not need to run the server themselves. Personal computers and laptops only require a basic specification and so power and energy can be minimized.  A reduction in the amount of paper used and distributed has a significan impact on meeting environmental targets – not forgetting the obvious impact on office space savings and power consumption.  Advanced social office platforms include facilities to share desk (so- called desk hotelling solutions) that mean workers can book a desk at the most appropriate location anytime they want one. Time savings (productivity gains) Time savings result from the following activity areas:  Reducing re-keying and re-purposing of content  Finding social connections  Accessing knowledge and data  Sourcing ideas and solving problems  Keeping informed  Working on the activities that matter  Not having to manually distribute paper  Capturing data at source© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 19
  20. 20. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office Reductions in paper usage  The ability to distribute, share and manage files online provided by social office platforms means that less paper is used, printed and distributed. This also means less paper documents are copied and saved. SUMMARY  There are obvious and quantifiable bottom-line cost savings – i.e. time, transport costs, reduced paper usage and energy savings – of moving to a social office orineted workplace.  It’s difficult today to monetize the full business impact of social office working practises. This is partly because the innovation is so new that no conclusive research has been performed, but it’s also because its impact is likely to be felt in every aspect of business behavior – finding customers, winning customers, energizing staff and partners, working smarter, making the most of corporate intelligence, to drive smarter decision making, reducing the environmental impact of business operations by reducing the number of people that need to commute or make unnecessary trips, improving performance and productivity of work teams and projects etc.  The authors believe that - in the next 5 years - social office working practises and technology will become endemic to the modern enterprise. As such, many of the rewards and benefits gained from investments into social office approaches will be attributed as a bi- product of ‘the way we work’ rather than any specific technology component or aspect of operational effectiveness.  Reductions in the cost of IT matched by improvements to the quality and usefulness of IT will no doubt be one of the more recognizable rewards of adopting social office technologies, accepting that most information workers do not believe they have seen any great improvement to their productivity enabled by IT since the introduction of the spreadsheet.  Organizations can expect to see a step-change in the productivity of information workers and the ability to do more with less. The economic impact of this change will likely be equivalent to the introduction of© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 20
  21. 21. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office email where managers found they were able (or required) to manage their own administration leading to a reduction in the number of people engaged in supportive roles. While the output produced by managers may have declined slightly as the result of this, savings in administrative positions have been seen to clearly benefit operating budgets.  The social office will create a more open and engaging enterprise. The economic benefits of closer emotional ties with customers, stakeholders, colleagues and industry partners will vary considerably depending on capabilities. It will improve the ability of both employees and employers to measure direct productivity towards project outcomes. While this will encourage trust in remote and home working, the probably consequence of the social office is that individuals will be asked to absorb non-productive tasks that do not directly contribute to project success into the twilight hours of their working week (in much the ame way as contracted staff today have to invest their own time in project scoping and expenses management).  The authors anticipate that the social office will lead to a much greater specialization of skills made possible by employers being able to tap into specialist practitioners for projects on demand without the high costs of recruitment and move employment behaviors further in the direction of project working.© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 21
  22. 22. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS About Ian Tomlin Ian Tomlin is a management consultant and technology advocate. As co-founder of NDMC Consulting he has for the last 10 years led or contributed to transformation projects for large public and private sector organizations seeking to achieve greater business agility and customer value. About NDMC Consulting NDMC Consulting is a pioneering management consulting business focusing on the application of agile software technologies and large-scale information change management engagements. The company also provides market insights and horizon scanning services for some of the world’s largest technology companies. About Encanvas ® Encanvas software makes the workplace work better. We bring added value to the ® Microsoft enterprise platform by creating the technologies organizations need to spend less and receive more from their software investments. Our Secure&Live™ platform enables the design, deployment and operation of applications without coding or scripting all made possible by a single tightly coupled architecture. It facilitates the massive scaling of portal architectures; so users can communicate, share information and their applications in real-time while operating in ‘secure spaces’ that protect systems, data, identity and intellectual property. More reading To find out more about this subject, please read ‘Cloud Coffee House’ by Ian Tomlin, available from© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 22
  23. 23. ENCANVAS WHITE PAPER | The Business Case for a Social Office Intellectual property All information of whatever kind contained in this documentation remains the property of Encanvas Inc. Encanvas Inc.’s appointed data controller is Mr Nick Lawrie. Further information is available on request. Contact information Encanvas Inc. 2710 Thomas Avenue Cheyenne Wyoming 82001 United States of America +1 201 777 3398 Encanvas Europe Dove Cottage Offices Abingdon Road Marcham Oxfordshire OX13 6NU United Kingdom +44 1865 596151 Encanvas is a registered trademark of Encanvas Inc. All other trademarks and trade names contained in this document are recognized as belonging to their respective owners.© 2008 Encanvas Inc. 23