Wednesday, 20 March 2013 07:08

Social Networking Changing the Business Propositions

Written by Atul Gupta, PMP, & Alankar Karpe, PMP

Social networking has changed the traditional communication channels in today’s era of tablets and smartphones. This has created different ways for project managers to manage projects, collaborate in real time, and find solutions quickly by going through the problems.

A social network is a social structure made up of a set of actors including individuals and/or organizations and the dyadic ties between these actors. The social network perspective provides a clear way of analyzing the structure of whole social entities. The study of these structures uses social network analysis to identify local and global patterns, locate influential entities, and examine network dynamics.

IT has assisted marketing, administration, and business operations with their implementations of social networking and various media including websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Now we have some ways to make social-style communications deliver value to the IT department.

Major IT work challenges continue to revolve around project management, resourcing, technical problem resolution and consultation, accuracy and timeliness of information, and the responsibility of running round-the-clock operations. This is where social network comes in handy and provides opportunities such as peer-to-peer networking, quick communicating, gathering required information, and idea sharing.

Here is a brief description of how social networking is adding value in managing projects, getting updates quickly and keeping the information as contemporary as possible.

  1. PM Tools on the cloud
    With the increasing needs of teams located at multiple locations, in different time zones and countries, it has become a necessity to evolve the new version of cloud-based project management and use social networking as a way to collaborate at the workplace. Frustrated with desktop versions of project management software, more companies are moving to cloud-based project management, which allows everyone to key in their tasks, due dates, and status. Project team members can also collaborate online through social networking to resolve project problems and roadblocks. Some companies are seeing a 2x improvement in the number of projects they can complete each year. There are tools available on cloud such as CA Clarity, which makes the PM’s job easier to track the progress of the project from virtually anywhere. 

  2. Meetings – The Agile way
    The agile way of managing customers is increasing more and more due to an increase in flux in the internal as well as external environment, hence project managers are mostly managing small chunks of work. This requires daily meetings with the entire team for a small duration where all project team members gather, report on status, identify problems, and then collectively resolve these issues as a group. For globally scattered teams in today’s era, where people are spread across the globe, social media comes handy. These meetings are now happening on Facebook chat instead of closed conference rooms. Teams are even using advanced tools like SKYPE for conferencing using webcams. YouTube has even been used to upload a recording of the meeting for private use by team members at other locations.

  3. Picking up gems – Selective hiring 
    Talent acquisition has never been so effortless and cost-effective. This can happen both ways where you can go to a suitable and prospective candidate and offer what they want to do. Sites like LinkedIn give you easy access to this unlimited talent pool across geographical locations where you can not only read what they do best but also what people say about their work. You can also make them come to you. Some companies organize half-day technical conferences across India. These technical conferences can be sponsored by your company. By the virtue of title sponsorship, your company has exclusive access to the entire attendee database where you can start your recruitment process. The conference is based on technologies for which you have manpower requirements. You meet candidates that you may have never known through job sites or HR consultants. You get first-hand opportunities to interact with them, saving you time, money, energy and resources. 

  4. Mobile collaboration and problem resolution for the help desk in the field
    For years, IT has wrestled with help desk and support personnel having to be out in the field, losing time on travel. Now, mobile technology equips them to log the status of their calls instantaneously into the system, pick up help requests from the queue, and even collaborate with each other in groups to solve technical problems. A presentation or a video stating the problem receives more and faster responses, and leads to much better productivity for organizations.

  5. Using the cloud for R&D forums
    As more sites opt for cloud-resident and third-party applications, it’s equally important to ensure that vendors continue to evolve their solutions to meet the changing needs of their corporate clients. Social network forums on vendor products give enterprise IT an opportunity to weigh in on the next set of functions and features it would like to see in a vendor’s offering.

    A social network allows independent researchers, specialists and other skilled people to upload and share their research and findings to a community of users with interests in similar topics. Users in turn benefit by being able to gain from the experience of others.

  6. Prototyping, demo and joint testing
    Users (and various IT specialists) aren’t always available at the same time to model a new application prototype or to kick the tires and perform testing on applications getting ready for production. By networking through a social media forum, they can leave their comments and test results on the network where everyone can view and act on them. The technique promotes 360-degree checkouts and signoffs on new applications without someone in IT administration trying to keep track of it all.

  7. Collaboration with other companies on common IT problems
    Although companies might compete on end products and services, their internal IT departments face many of the same problems. These issues include understanding how to implement a new industry regulation in enterprise code and how to meet certain IT “green” and sustainability standards. Social networking is a great avenue for organizational exchanges and committee work that helps ITers from many organizations join forces to overcome a common challenge.

  8. Public forums for quick problem solving
    A combination of technical resources and social networking sites are now so good that most IT technical staff (especially in areas like network administration) go to these forums first to find answers to elusive technical problems. This pays off in a major way, as many vendor telephone help lines are actually orchestrated to discourage calls and sometimes don’t work at all.

    Social networking grows at a phenomenal rate where individuals leverage the connections they establish within the social network to achieve broader common objectives to discuss a particular new problem, any new findings on an old issue, or share a new experience.

  9. Instant messaging and spontaneous meet
    With a social networking concept, techniques like instant messaging have grown into instant meetings. Experts from diverse IT disciplines can be brought together in real time to work out a real-time problem, thanks to the flexibility inherent in Internet-based apps and today’s mobile communications. Not only are the technologies, changing but people are also adapting to this kind of new lifestyle where the customer is considered “the king.” It is important to provide an immediate solution to a real-time problem, irrespective of the time zone or global location.

  10. “Follow the sun” services
    More enterprises are deploying IT experts in diverse geographical locations to solve the age-old problem of remote facilities having to wait until the corporate office opens to solve a production problem. Companies are not just spreading out their IT workforces. They are also using social networking principles, so that if a problem can’t be solved in its entirety within a normal workday at one site, all the data, work, and communications that have gone into the problem are documented in a social networking work area so that the next “shift” of IT staff in a different geographical zone can take over the issue. The strategy speeds time to problem resolution and engages the right people until a solution is put in place.

  11. Shared data repositories and documentation pools
    By maintaining a common data repository for a given project, problem, or other IT matter on a corporate social network that staff from anywhere at any time can contribute to and access, companies avoid confusion and misinformation because everyone is working from the same set of data. These social networking information repositories are usually implemented on corporate intranets or via Internet through a cloud services provider.

  12. Social Network Marketing
    Social media has become a platform that is easily accessible to anyone with Internet access. Increased communication for organizations fosters brand awareness and often improved customer service. Additionally, social media serves as a relatively inexpensive platform for organizations to implement marketing campaigns. Social networking allows individuals to interact with one another and build relationships. This requires a completely different strategy to provide a detailed specification of the product, catchy headlines, interesting materials to interact with the customer, and more importantly, converting satisfied customers into brand advocates.

Don't forget to leave your comments below.

References:
1) Mary Shacklett, 10 Social Media Methodologies That Are Changing How it Works, September 20, 2012
2) Peopleware, India, Article: Recruitment through conference, October 2012
3) Wikipedia - List of Social Networking Websites, accessed 4th December 2012
4) Daniel Goleman, Social and Emotional Learning, Web Rage: Why It Happens, What It Costs You, How to Stop, Posted June 19, 2007
5) Website:  Classification of social media, accessed 4th December 2012
6) Website Social Media Marketing

About the Authors

AlankarAlankar Karpe, PMP is Services Project Manager for CA Technologies. Alankar has overall experience of thirteen years and has worked for over ten years in the project management domain in the areas of Strategic management, PMO, tool deployment and Service delivery projects. He is working with CA Technologies at present and managing PPM projects across various geographies including NA, EMEA and APJ. 
Alankar is a certified Project management professional from PMI and holds Master’s certificate in Business Analysis from ESI & George Washington University, USA.
You can contact him directly at alkarpe@yahoo.com

AtulAtul Gupta, PMP, CSM is Team Lead Delivery Services CA Technologies. Atul has overall 6 years of experience in Project and Program Management. Except for the project deliveries, Atul has also worked as PMO Manager to setup PMO Office. Atul is currently working on CA Clarity PPM tool with CA and provides PPM consultancy to its clients.
You can contact him directly at samatul@gmail.com

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