The world today is undergoing rapid changes. The traditional way of doing business no longer holds importance. As the Great recession is fading away, a new business environment is emerging which poses new challenges to the organisations. The businesses have become a matter of survival. Those who will not change with time will be thrown out from this new landscape. As per this year’s Bloomberg/Business Week/Boston Consulting Group (BCG) annual survey of top executives, eighty three percent of the executives surveyed said innovation will play a major role in benefiting from the recovery. So, businesses are trying to innovate more & more to stay ahead of the competition.
Earlier, organisations had pre-defined innovating team consisting of engineers, researchers etc. But under the changed circumstances, they no longer want to have a limited team for innovation. They now have a broader view on this topic and they invite ideas from every corner of the world. There are many organisations which have already adopted this philosophy e.g. Procter & Gamble which applied open-innovation strategy through its website. It not only shows what it knows & what it can do, but also publicizes what it needs. P&G is looking for & inviting new ideas from everybody and about anything from the way they do marketing to the way the organisation functions as a whole. It has recently bought a new technology for an antimicrobial product from a company that submitted its proposal through P&G’s website. So, we see how P&G innovated to bring customers, partners and employees under same umbrella of their website. One of the ways to innovate is to adapt to new technologies. Today, technology has the power of making new industries and breaking existing industries. Some years ago when e-mail technology arrived, most of the companies adopted it to increase collaboration and help its workforce to do the work more rapidly. People also adopted it comfortably in their personal and professional life. But as the environment around the companies is getting more complex, they need new technologies combined with innovation to increase the collaboration.
The organisations are trying to bring in the power of Web 2.0 tools and social software platforms which enable people to collaborate and/or form online communities into enterprises to create – Enterprise 2.0. It is a term coined for the Web 2.0 technologies that liberate employees from the constraints of using earlier communication tools like e-mail. It is a web of inter-connected services and applications which provides managers with the right information at right time. It provides organisations with a competitive advantage in terms of innovation & productivity. The new Web 2.0 technologies are not just for socializing like Facebook, Twitter etc., but if applied in a proper manner can help organisation in solving severe problems, capturing fast changing knowledge, leveraging expertise, generating and refining ideas and harnessing the wisdom of the crowds. The web 2.0 can be used to improve communication, cooperation, collaboration and connections which has been called the 4Cs of social software by Niall Cook in his book titled – Enterprise 2.0 – How social software will change the future of work. It can help organisation in making information exchange and collaboration among its employees and among its partner network more simple and agile, keeping the organisation ahead of the competition.
According to a study conducted by IBM in 2010 named – Working beyond borders, most of the surveyed Chief Human Resource Officers said that they need to better capitalize on collective intelligence of their organization. The study also shows that the companies which outperform financially are 57% more likely to use social networking and collaborative tools so that different teams spread across world can work more efficiently than those companies which under-perform financially. Of the 707 executives surveyed, 78% HRs think that their organization is not effective at encouraging the use of collaborative and social networking tools. Instead of this, only 21% companies have increased investment in collaborative tools.
A survey by IBM showed that 19% of the respondents use collaborative tools to identify skilled individuals, 23% use it to preserve critical knowledge and 27% use it to spread innovation. It also showed that many organizations are still at a very nascent stage of deploying social networking and collaborative tools.
Today, social software is being adopted in the organisations to have better performance of their work forces. This gives employees a bigger platform to collaborate and communicate than e-mail. Due to this, relationships between company and employee and also among employees are changing rapidly. This is helping organizations to reshape from bottom to up. There is also an increasing trend where customers share their problems, new products and opinion on improvements in real time on the web. New ideas generation today are taking place on the web where your competitors can see your changing strategies and can act accordingly. This means companies need to continuously innovate and take fast decisions. Enterprise 2.0 helps manufacturing companies to integrate their suppliers through secured communication network, thereby reducing the cost and improving the quality. In this flatter world where even the smallest companies want to compete at global level, social software provides them a means to find and connect with new customers and thus expanding their business.
Going forward, industries not only need to innovate but also to manage and strategize innovation as per the need of the time. They will also need to adopt new technologies as early as possible to increase productivity and collaboration and there by staying ahead of competition.