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Interview: The state of Enterprise 2.0 / Collaborative Innovation in Germany

innovation-3’s Frank Mattes was recently interviewed by Dachis Group’s Lara Hendrickson on the state of Enterprise 2.0, Collaborative Innovation and Social Business in Germany.

In one sentence, describe the state of social in your country.

Frank Mattes: Firms have gotten the message that they need to have an informant infrastructure…but the hidden message in there is they are not quite sure of what to do with it!

What has been the biggest shift you have seen in the social space over the course of the past few years?

I am observing that social went from being a grassroots project, to a decision to have a certain platform – be it IBM Connections or Jive. In the last one to two years, firms have also looked for organizational embedding of social, meaning they have found dedicated departments and dedicated budgets for social. They’ve also thought about how to manage the rollout, and we’ve (witnessed) different strategies for different companies, so there is a debate about what the right implementation strategy is.

What would you estimate the level of participation in social to be in your country, and how do you see this changing in the future?

I think we are almost at 100% from an infrastructure point of view. Beginning last year, and going full speed into 2014 and 2015 is really transferring the business context onto the social platforms, be it in marketing, be it in sales, be it in innovation management.

What area (marketing, HR, etc.) have you seen social most effectively adopted?

Assuming effectively means aligned with business targets, from an HR perspective, they are using these platforms for communication purposes. If you look at marketing and sales departments, they are picking it up for business purposes. In some companies you have these industry teams where global experts are working on serving certain industries; the sales departments are putting together their knowledge about particular accounts they are targeting. What’s also interesting is innovation management has been a huge drive towards those social platforms. Discussing future innovation strategy and technologies that are out there. Supply chain functions are picking up social platforms. One very prominent example is how the first big companies in Germany are discussing social business process management – how classical business process management can be enriched with social.

Would you say social is integral to business strategy in your country?

Not yet, though I’m sure within the next two to three years it will be seen as a key enabler. In three to five years, I see it being integral to strategy.

What methods of social business do you see succeeding and where is the value?

What I’ve observed is there is an infrastructure that HR departments and corporate communications are trying to extend their historic functions onto social platforms for communication purposes. On the other hand, I see movement for departments that are under pressure to deliver real quantitative KPIs like the marketing measured in marketshare, or the sales measured in revenue, or the innovation departments measured in X percent of revenue coming from new products to use the social platforms. Typically the reason for them doing so is that they recognize that they can’t do their job on a global scale anymore with a series of workshops. They do not have the time or resources to do that, so they need to find more clever ways, and they’ve found social platforms to be the right way to do so.

Have you seen any trends in allocation of social budget?

Definitely. The big accounts all have budgets now, set aside for setting up the infrastructure. And not only financial resources, but human resources. So yes, there are well-defined budgets now for social within Germany.

What are the most popular social platforms in your area?

I would say [internal collaboration platform] IBM Connections is in the lead, with Jive as another strong contender.

What is the next hot platform in your country? What platforms are growing the fastest in your country?

There are some very interesting start-ups in Germany that combine social with semantic web tools to enable, say, a next level of knowledge management, connecting people and knowledge and expertise.

Are there any unique challenges to social marketing in your country? How are you working to overcome them?

If you look at it from the innovation perspective, in Germany we have some regulations that if you are innovating for a company, and its clear that a certain product idea, maybe even a patent, can be traced back to your efforts, you get rewarded for that. So that means on social platforms – for innovation purposes – its always an issue of how to take care for that particular regulation. How can we make sure if I put out an idea or comment, I can get my financial rewards, that back in pre-social times were quite clear.

Do you think most large enterprises in your country have a specific person dedicated to social? What are some of their job titles?

Yes. You can find them primarily within HR functions, and a job title might be Head of Cultural Initiatives, or in some instances you might also find “Evangelists.” You also find them in the IT department, where they might be integrated, or in some cases, separated from Web 2.0 social media, so in some instances there is not yet a clear distinction between outward facing social media and inward facing social media.

Do you think most CEOS or CMOs in your area recognize social’s business impact, or are socially savvy themselves?

No – we need to do it because everybody else is doing it, but we do not have a clear game plan yet.

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