By Ed Abrams, Vice President,  Midmarket Business at IBM 

If you haven’t created a culture of social collaboration in your business yet, Ed Abrams, vice president of Midmarket Business at IBM is guest posting today to tell you how and why you should.

Start Small: One way to ease your small business into using social collaboration tools, and to make sure they get used, is to begin one step at a time. Rather than implementing a whole new system, perhaps start a wiki for team status updates – this will get your company sharing, and used to the process.

Culture v. Technology: Culture is extremely important to a successful social business transformation, in many regards, it’s even more important than the technology you use. Place an emphasis on promoting a business culture of transparency and trust from senior leadership to those working in the field. Work to encourage a culture of sharing so that employees feel comfortable sharing their sentiment and collaborating across teams and departments. With these cultural elements in order, an organization is setting itself up for a successful social business transformation.

Education: While most of us have become comfortable using social networking tools in our personal lives, not everyone recognizes the advantages of using these tools to get work done. Be sure to educate your employees about the new tools at their disposal and articulate how they will help increase efficiency in the workplace, break down silos within the organization. For example, host a workshop on how to create a community and share resources with a broader team using that community.

Remember Your Audience: Social collaboration tools make it very easy to share data, thoughts, contacts, etc with both colleagues and customers. This convenience is incredibly useful for a productive work environment, but also comes with its own unique set of faux pas – I bet you can think of a few things you might not want to share, if you give it a second thought – so think twice before you share.
Security Matters:  Your content must remain readily available to team members while confidential information is protected from unauthorized access. Some collaboration software handles security requiring IT assistance each time you add or remove outside team members. A better choice is software that allows new members to be quickly added or removed from a workspace with full security without requiring IT assistance.

Ed Abrams, Vice President of Marketing for Midmarket at IBM. In his role, Ed works closely with IBM initiatives that help midsize clients benefit from the growing strengths of a smarter planet.