Getting the best out of your staff by choosing software that thinks like they do


by Davide Hanan

One of the most important things all organisations need to remember is that a business is only as good as its people. So how can you make sure you’re getting the most out of your people?

It could equally be said that in any industry, even the best employee can be made even better if they’re equipped with great tools. Just as a carpenter needs the right tools to conduct his craft, all businesses need to make sure they equip their employees with systems they can effectively work with and get the best results.

In this age of social media, iPhone apps and online gaming, it’s only natural that information workers expect to be equipped with tools similar to those they’re using in their personal lives. Yet traditionally, enterprise systems are a far cry from the engrossing, interactive tools we use to interact with our peers on a daily basis. And still, businesses can benefit massively from taking the collaborative aspect of the way we operate with our peers online and using this to implement similar systems to get the most out of employees at work.

Social software already being used

There are a number of social initiatives already being encouraged by some businesses – such as Yammer, Prezi and Google Docs – which have built on the idea of sharing information online in a consumer realm and have deployed it within the workplace.

In fact, Forrester Research has predicted that the social software market will grow to more than US$6 billion by 2016 (approximately R60 billion). This indicates that the move towards collaboration in the office has been noted and is being watched.

These initiatives have worked in some companies but not in others

What makes the difference?

The truth is that when it comes to getting the most out of business tools, you, the employer, need to realise each member of your team will have their own ways of working and collaborating.

With the bring-your-own-device trend seeing employees bringing in their own gadgets to work, you must accept the individual employee’ preference and make sure they have the technology they are going to interact with and, ultimately, get the most out of.

Collaboration requirements depend on place and time

If an employee can be in the same place at the same time as the people they need to work with, then it’s possible to meet face to face. However, if you are available at the same time but are in different locations, you need tools, such as phone and Web conferencing, to facilitate remote interactions.

If you need to work with someone but can’t be in the same place at the same time, you need tools to support asynchronous collaboration – this could be anything from blogs to wikis, e-mail and threaded discussions.

Users don’t want tools where they have to think in a certain way

Instead, they want tools that will stimulate and support their natural way of thinking, following their thought processes and help them to make discoveries that they might not have even been looking for.

This should be the same with a business tool. In an ideal world, it should follow the trail of thought so the user can work as effectively as possible, becoming entrenched in their discoveries. Along the path of discovery, they need to be able to share securely what they have found with others in the organisation so they can encourage debate and, ultimately, make sure everyone is informed enough to make the right business decisions.

Giving staff tools that they enjoy using will make them happier

The software and systems we use to conduct our work need to be more in tune with the user now more than ever before. Employees are far more adapted to technology outside of the workplace than they used to be. It’s important the tools they have in the workplace to help them do their work successfully are ones that can support the way of thinking and interacting with technology they have become accustomed to.
If you don’t do this, your organisation will run the risk of missing out on the discoveries that can be made through letting your employees interact with data and learn in an environment they are comfortable with, with the tools they enjoy using, and

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