Why Microsoft's Partnership With Klout To Measure Influence At Work Is A Good Thing

The first attempt at changing the culture of the company was an appeal by the CEO for more transparency. His first request was sent via email and displayed among the hundred other emails each of his employees received every day – the human resources department ran the campaign two more times. The second email was about a company that was besieged by hostile employees that just learned the truth about their critical financial predicament. The last one included a video about a gifted, yet insecure manager that liked to hoard information at the detriment of those around her. The company asked its employees to do their part to change the culture. It’s internal open and share rate for the first email was 14%, the second 9% and the third was virtually ignored. The CEO called a staff meeting to learn why the campaign had little if no effect. He looked through the results and asked, “Can someone tell me what’s going on here?” Only the CIO answered, “As far as I can tell, none of the people who are employees respect – care about changing our culture. We never engaged them in the process and thus they ignored us.” “Well how do we find out who the important people are?” the CEO asked. This time no one answered. “All right, so now we know the kind of culture we want and the company we need to become.” Why Measuring Influence in the Enterprise is Important Let’s look at the workplace we’re actually working in. It’s full of people that have hidden expertise, hidden connections and hidden influence. It’s a workplace where a single influential employee with the right knowledge can create an inexpensive YouTube video that can produce more leads and attention than a million dollar advertising campaign. It’s a workplace where the right people with the right leadership qualities but the wrong titles can have more influence over a company’s employees than any executives. It’s still a workplace where command and control leadership is rampant, but where collaborative teams can push past the bureaucracy to do something remarkable. Add it all up and it’s clear why Yammer and Klout decided to partner in order to help companies identify their experts and influencers. Organizations will need to be smarter to stay competitive and to do that – they’ll need to better leverage their human assets. “The broader story is that when social activities starts to happen, companies will need to understand what their internal social networks are telling them and how to get the right people utilizing that information quickly,” Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s Senior Director of SharePoint Product Management told me. So while Klout is still working on perfecting their scores for influential people in the public social sphere, they should have a much easier time delivering on the promise of identifying experts and influencers within the organization. That’s because the population in most organizations is stable and the context (what the employees are working on and discussing) is limited. So relatively soon, companies using SharePoint/Yammer as their social platform will be able to quickly identify the right connectors, influencers and experts to work on big and small issues that are impacting the organization. And from the employee perspective, understanding that a Klout-type measurement system is in place can mean the difference between a raise and the status quo, employees may find they are working harder to have more impact or to develop deeper subject matter expertise. This internal Klout measurement system doesn’t argue for a new type of corporate caste system. It argues for using social data judiciously and in a responsible fashion. For example, if your marketing team has identified a new area for growth amongst a new group of prospective customers, your executives may believe that they need to hire an expensive consulting firm to help develop new organizational core competencies. But, if they were able to quickly assess their employee’s supplemental expertise at scale and overlay it with the required competencies, they may find the expertise already exists internally. I also asked Spataro about the SharePoint/Yammer roadmap and what other influence related partnerships are in the works. He mentioned GoodData For Yammer which provides even deeper analytics around company trends, topics, and activities. And most impressively, he mentioned cross product Yammer search integration, where searching from one product may reveal Yammer conversations in another. That combination of social plus search is really powerful. In that sense, corporate strategy will need to look a lot more like social strategy. Where executives will have to carefully choose how to best engage and communicate with their employees. They can’t simply manage with their gut – they’ll need to use these new insights for navigating how to best deploy their talent. Microsoft has demonstrated that they understand this. Most organizations have not.

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