“sE=MC²” – Part 3 [Contributing Factors]

« sE = MC² » Part 3: Contributing Factors

In this article, it is discussed in detail, each key factor contributing to the social orientation of an enterprise.

sE as in social Enterprise

Here in consideration is any enterprise which needs to adapt to the principal scenarios. The connotation social does not singularise internet companies in “social media”. The enterprise can be in any sector – manufacturing, financial services, marketing, distribution, travel & leisure, government, public sector etc. By definition, an enterprise is an organised collection of professionals “interacting socially” to serve a concrete purpose. As a consequence, the better is the social factor genetically coded in the DNA, the higher is the overall efficiency of the teams, and hence of the organisation as a whole.

Social factors work to engage in new ways with customers, employees, partners and collaborators. Employees engage across an internal social platform to perform more efficiently. In addition, they engage with partners, influencers and consumers ‘socially’ and collaboratively in “Business as Usual” (BaU) scenarios. Social enterprises empower closed-group collaboration using private usage of social networks.

A social enterprise can be looked at as an entity which is connected within a social setup i.e. formal as well as informal set up. Employees, partners, influencers, Governments, students, researchers and even competitors also constitute a Social Ecosystem. Enterprises connected with the wider world benefit in various ways from concept development to product development, from supply chain to distribution management, from sales to customer services.

Work has progressed towards quantising and calibrating the degree of being “social” using ‘social quotients’. Nevertheless, it has not yet been uniformly adopted across sectors; some sectors are more open to others.

Services sectors such as Travel & Leisure which have direct touch with their clients through their services and dynamic pricing tend to listen and stay in touch through its ‘social ears and eyes’. Sectors such as Manufacturing have adopted social approach albeit in a very limited extent. They are still searching for concrete applicability; i.e. justifications for being social. Applicability can be measured concretely if there are one or more individual consumer touch points. For e.g. if a product is a high margin B2C item and sold through a direct channel to individuals or households, consumer-goods manufacturing companies are prone to open social channels of interaction. Moreover, social adoption depends also on the various functions within the central organisation. Customer service functions are at a more vantage point compared to other internal functions – naturally no department head wants negative criticism floating around for too prompt adoption of social techniques.

M as in Mobility

Mobility refers to the agility of an enterprise in making decisions and running its business as usual. Mobility is best achieved if it is pushed to the Edge. We first define the term ‘edge’. Edge means further away from central administrative activities within a large enterprise; physically or geographically but not organisationally. It refers to divisions or units of personnel who are interacting frequently and regularly with partners, collaborators and clients, both on the move or from office. For e.g. a particular business division may not be located at the headquarters or even near about. However, it can be at the core of current business development activities, and thus have a large group of travelling or sedentary personnel in sales and project management. We can thus refer to such a unit or division at the “Edge”.

Enterprises are increasingly promoting mobility with field-workers on the move and consultants and project managers at client-sites. It is well-proven that organisational efficiencies increase rapidly if travelling workforces are given the right tools in hand on-the-move.

Mobility to the Edge

In this methodology, the term Mobility is extended further to refer not just to travelling professionals but also to business divisions and project groups that have the capacity to make “mobile” decisions in an Agile manner without the lengthy corporate process of validation with a central organisation. Naturally, to make efficiency improvements for such “Edge” units and divisions, it is necessary not only to equip them with the right set of tools (both analytic and decision-making) but also train them in Agile decision-making processes to effectively use such tools and take the right decisions on the fly.

For example, during a highly competitive bidding process for a large RFP, the responsible Key Account Manager (KAM) would be more Agile than his competitors, if he could make by himself changes to the original validated proposal. These urgent changes are often demanded by the client during a bidding process and responsible KAM or sales contacts need to get back urgently to the client with a favourable response. In such circumstances, the KAM or sales team’s dream is to be in a position whereby they could take the change decisions themselves; instead of validating by a corporate sales board each time a change was requested. Finally, once the deal was concluded the KAM would inform the corporate board about the final proposal and show his justifications for adapting the original proposal, pricing, etc.

However, to have this level of Agile and decision-making capacity at the edge, the KAM would need:

  1. A complete set of analytic tools to churn out numbers, pricing and dependencies to justify all changes.
  2. Appropriate training in Adaptive processes (preferably Agile), to synchronise his changes with different stakeholders – both internal and external. This would require communication and exchanges in highly heterogeneous formats (emails, instant notifications, conferencing, closed-group forum exchanges, etc). Thus he would need to be well-skilled in edge-mobility processes.

Similar situations arise in project management for client projects – both at the start and during the project. Empowering decision-making capacities towards the organisational edge is becoming a global phenomenon and there is strong evidence from large multinationals such as IBM, General Electric and Procter & Gamble.

Mobility – BYOD

A related concept opted frequently by innovative multinationals is the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) where their IT departments support the use of personal mobile devices (laptops, iPhones, iPads, Android devices, Windows phones, Bluetooth devices, etc) employees including office workers. The use could be for conventional business purposes such as agenda management or brainstorming in professional circles (via Facebook, Tweeter, LinkedIn, etc). This is often referred to as “employee-liable” strategy (as opposed to conventional corporate-liable strategy).

This essentially means that organisations are adopting policy driven usage of devices than rules driven to empower the workforce yet asking them to be responsible for their own behaviour to use their time productively yet being connected with key stakeholders.

When it comes to the benefits companies receive from BYOD, company CIOs identified, the following major ones (2):

Increased productivity: Overall, the primary benefit IT leaders see from BYOD is increased employee productivity, both in terms of greater output and improved collaboration with others.

This finding contradicts employers’ fears, that employees are distracted by exposure to personal applications and content (e.g, social networks, games, unauthorised sites for personal business and entertainment). This has been a regular argument against mass adoption of BYOD.

  • Increased job satisfaction: Employees want to use the same devices for work as well as for their personal activities. When allowed to choose their own devices, employees are happier and more satisfied in their work. This is closely connected to the philosophy of the “millennial worker” discussed in the next section.
  • Reduced mobility costs: due to employees paying for part (or all) of the costs of their mobile devices and to improved IT resource utilisation. It is a top benefit for several EU countries such as France and UK.

Here are some key findings on BYOD with regional and organisational flavours (2):

  • In all organisations – MNC or SME:
    • There is a high degree of consistency between midsize companies and enterprises in attitudes toward BYOD.
    • Globally, 89% of IT leaders from both large enterprises and midsize companies support BYOD in some form.
    • 69% view BYOD contribution as “somewhat” or “extremely” positive.
  • Regional acceptances:
    • Asian and Latin American companies encourage extensive BYOD, while Europeans are more cautious and restrictive.
    • USA is the overall leader in BYOD adoption and policy.
    • USA and India are ahead of other countries in desktop virtualisation. Other IT leaders are aware of it, but implementation is still lagging.

Mobility – the Millennial worker

Third and a equally pressing factor is the emergence of the millennial worker. These are young knowledge-based professionals, who want to keep multiple options or choices. They want to have the independence to switch contexts in their daily lives and yet stay productive for organisations. They want to run their work and also enjoy their social lives simultaneously and seamlessly. They want more freedom and in the process they want to add-value to their personal lives, the organisations where they work, and to society. This is a driving factor in many organisations for the adaption of mobility.

C as in Collaboration

Given all the above, the key human requirement is of continuous collaboration and interaction of data in unstructured or highly hetero-structured forms (emails, SMS, video, documents, notes, tweets, comments, etc). Depending on the scenario, both employees and external collaborators need to exchange frequently, information and professional opinions on projects, products and roadmaps.

In our methodology, when we use the term collaboration, we mean specifically “open collaboration”. Open collaboration, per se, has wider ramifications in corporate as well as entrepreneurial setups. It is not within a single enterprise but often transcends organisational boundaries. Open collaboration helps in reaching out to the right group of people – clients as well as collaborators, irrespective of their location or enterprise – to work on a particular problem or design a precise solution, . The goals, interests and motivations can be various as explained in the following subsection.

Different types of collaboration

Open collaboration is primarily of two major types: Community-basedcollaboration and Competitive collaboration. We will discuss them in detail below. In practical implementations, the case may be a hybrid of these two major types of collaboration.

The exact type of collaboration that must be adopted depends on the goals to be achieved from the collaboration. We will explain the implementation for the cost optimisation scenario.

Community-based collaboration

This type of collaboration is required when the optimisation problem requires the full might of cumulative knowledge to continually build on past advances.

When: According to our methodology, organisations should incorporate community-based collaborative methods as part of their social enterprise strategy in the following situations:

  • When the Technology or the Design or the Optimisation approach:
    • has yet to be established or explained
    • creates an Incentive to share knowhow
  • When the customer or internal needs:
    • are not fully or clearly understood
    • are highly varied or changing frequently
  • When the development process is such that a distinct part of it can be separated at arm’s length for working with external collaborators.

Mode: The interaction is governed loosely by social norms & soft rules to encourage:

  • Open access to information and knowledge for the collaborating parties
  • Transparency of information, decision-making and processes
  • Joint development in projects and processes
  • Sharing of common Intellectual Property for individual use in each organisation
  • Mutual respect between participating organisations and professional individuals

Examples: The world of Open source solution is one of the best examples in this category – Linux, Google Android, Apache, and many others.

Reward: As this type of collaboration requires group work that must extend across organisational and / or individual boundaries, the rewards need to be oriented towards intrinsic forms of motivation. Intrinsic forms of motivation include fun and enjoyment, higher degrees of autonomy in personal and private life, improving professional and personal identity.

Competitive collaboration

This type of collaboration is required when the optimisation problem is best solved by broad experimentation. There exists no single solution to the problem, multiple partial solutions perhaps. Rather different solution paths need to be tried out to understand the optimal solution.

When: According to our methodology, enterprises should incorporate community-based collaborative methods as part of their social enterprise strategy in the following situations:

  •  When there is the need for broad experimentation:
    • of technical approaches to solve certain problems
    • over different customer groups or internal departments that require solutions
    • on product features or service definitions
  • When regular creative destruction is a necessity:
    • to foster diversity and heterogeneity of the different solutions
    • to encourage competition between collaborators in the value-chain
  • When the possibility exists to offer clear incentives:
  • for competition between collaborators
  • to search for new solutions and products
  • to protect collaborators own IP

Mode: The collaborating parties or some of them develop multiple competing varieties of complementary goods, components or services. Then they allow customers to choose from their competitive offerings. The collaborators are strongly focussed on their own economic interests.

Result: The resulting environment is of fierce competition. Naturally there is very little cooperation between collaborators.

Examples: Games and music distribution platforms fall clearly in this category: Nintendo, Sony-Playstation and Apple-iTunes are strong examples of competitive collaboration platforms and the corresponding ecosystem.

Reward: As this type of collaboration requires pitching competitors, one against the other to bring up their best contribution, the reward for collaborating needs to be oriented towards extrinsic forms of motivation. Extrinsic forms of motivation are money, direct needs of collaborator, immediate career interests of professionals.

While it is important to collaborate between human beings and groups, frontiers of collaboration are being pushed to include machine or devices as well. Increasing number of gadgets used both in household and corporate environments, are being adapted with collaboration and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) interfaces. Computers, TV, mobile, gaming consoles, tablet PCs, universal remote controls, and healthcare diagnostic machines are some examples of devices which are used in our everyday lives and which enable collaboration at the machine level.

Collaboration necessarily churns enormous amount of data in heterogeneous forms and types. At the lowest level data and data-flows can be highly unstructured. The higher the degree of formality in communication the more structured is the data generated through it. Naturally, with social inclusion the volume of unstructured data outweighs the structured data. Enterprises are trying to collect, analyse, collaborate among them to delivery predictable service with deeper insights.

C as in Cloud-computing

The Cloud computing paradigm provides an infrastructure that allows manufacturing and service companies, public-sector enterprises, insurance companies, and research facilities to tap improved computing resources at lower initial capital outlays. Cloud computing caters to the key technology requirements as follows:

  • Enables on-demand access to computing and large storage facilities which are not provided in traditional IT environments.
  • Supports Big data sets and Big-data flow – both internal and external to the organisation.
  • Facilitates the sharing of unstructured data and multiple stakeholders that may also be geographically distributed, providing more timely access to critical information and reducing the need for duplicate testing.
  • Improves the ability to analyse and track information (with the proper information governance) so that data on products, projects, costs, performance, and effectiveness studies can be analysed and acted upon.

When considering a move to use cloud computing, consideration must be given to the different of cloud delivery models:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS),
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS),
  • Software as a Service (SaaS),

Each delivery model brings different requirements and responsibilities. The choice of the right cloud deployment model (private, public, and hybrid) also weighs heavily in strategic decisions.

In the subsequent article, is discussed in detail the different timeframes that are involved in the sE=MC² methodology.


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