2007 by Accenture with 1,009 managers at companies in the U.S. and
U.K. showed that 42 percent said they
accidentally use the wrong information
at least once per week. The managers,
from customer service, finance and
accounting, human resources, information technology, and sales and marketing departments, also said that more
than 50 percent of the information they
obtain has no value to them. On the
face of it, these are problems relating to
publishing static content (and finding it
afterward). Social tools, however, have
the potential to address these issues
in new ways.
A key part of knowledge management is highlighting the expertise
of staff and then helping others find
the right expert when they need one.
Social tools provide an efficient way
of connecting staff who have common
interests and needs.
Communities of practice take this
a step further by creating long-lived
spaces that bring together people
who work on common topics, even
though they may be scattered across
Arup, the global engineering consultancy, has long been recognized as
a leader in communities of practice.
With about 10,000 employees worldwide, Arup’s challenge has been to
mine the knowledge of its network
of designers and engineers and make
the best ideas quickly accessible by
all. Over time, posts on its space have
shifted from “Help, I’m in trouble!”
to “I’m about to do a project on X—
what’s the current best thinking?” This
growing maturity is the result of a
strong corporate culture and sustained
Social tools are also a natural platform for generating ideas and solving
problems. These tools can address real-world issues or drive companywide
innovation. The Cabin Crew forum
at British Airways was an early leader
in this arena, using a simple bulletin
board tool as far back as 2008 to foster an active space that solved amazingly diverse problems, from ice cubes
that can’t be broken up on a plane to
employee parking at airports.
At the simplest level,
social tools can
with a voice.
Arup’s intranet has enabled the consultancy’s geographically diverse designers
and engineers to turn to one another for advice.