Something my pal JD successfully hammered into my head last week caused a lightbulb moment.
Employees can choose not to use enterprise social environments.
Do you have a customer relationship management (CRM), procurement, portal, or other software you are forced – yes, forced – to use by your company? Me too. I have no choice. But when it comes to social networking and collaborative applications, there’s no “force” about it. I can choose to use it or not.
This means that the traditional way of implementing “you gotta use this” software doesn’t really work with social enterprise solutions.
So, what does work? Think about the things you use in your life that you don’t really need to use, but want to use. It’s all the things that you could live without if you had to. And I’m not talking about choosing a less expensive model of something you consider a necessity (e.g., selecting a discount diaper bag over a Coach diaper bag – a mom’s gotta have a diaper bag).
Why do you use those things? You get some kind of personal satisfaction out of them. Can you say that for your company’s CRM or procurement applications? The authors of Groundswell refer to one type of this personal satisfaction as psychic income.
I wish I had a magic answer for my customers about what kinds of things constitute personal satisfaction for everyone in their organizations, but then I’d just sound like a dumb software vendor wonk. Instead, I’d rather spend time with my customers to help them figure it out. Because one person’s satisfaction is another’s irritation.