Changing Social

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#ESN in the Middle East

I have been working in the Middle East for a few years now and I thought I would share a few highlights of how companies are using Enterprise Social, what they are looking to achieve and the drivers behind it. It has been fascinating to be a part of this transformation and to see the impact that Enterprise Social is having on some of the largest organisations in the Middle East. I hope you enjoy reading.

Employee Engagement:
Employee engagement is a high priority for most organisations and the Middle East is no exception. The appetite for social is rife and organisations are looking to capitalise on using Enterprise Social as a way to engage with their employees, having seen the impact that external social media is changing the way people interact and collaborate in their personal lives.

When advising clients on social governance around Enterprise Social I would steer well clear of Religion (sexism, racism and politics), however many organisations have a number of engagement strategies that tie in to the Holy month of Ramadan. There is a danger that using Yammer for Ramadan or other religious festivities can set the wrong tone for the network and it’s important to make sure that there is a clear context (and group) that connect to an over arching strategy. For example some customers that I work with have a wellbeing initiative throughout Ramadan and Yammer is the enabler to deliver communications on how to stay healthy during a physically and mentally strenuous time. In addition it builds a sense of community also leading to positive effects on engagement and productivity. 

A government agency in Saudi Arabia identified that there was a need to raise the profile of female employees in the organisation with the intention to give their female staff a voice and a platform to contribute their thoughts and ideas. They had identified that using Enterprise Social they would be able to create an environment where ladies were able to share knowledge, contribute towards ideas and new policies that were being created. This new initiative was a part of a larger change programme that included mentoring, where female employees were able to share best practices around how to handle certain commonalities in the workplace unique to Saudi and Middle Eastern culture. This initiative was so effective it was later introduced to all employees not just the ladies in somewhat of an unplanned phased roll out.

Enterprise Social Networks is a generative tool to stimulate the diffusion innovation within organisation. Innovation, similarly to employee engagement is an important competency and often a strategic driver for change in many Middle Eastern organisations. These organisations range from government bodies to financial services to schools to transport or health care. 

The Innovation team of a large retail bank in the UAE implemented Yammer as their social solution. The vision was that Yammer would provide an environment for all employees across the emirates to share their ideas of where and how to improve the bank's products, services or to enhance the customers experience online or in their retail stores. The initiative was a form of informal innovation that involved everyone. 

A number of ideas were implemented including the introduction of new processes to reduce customer waiting times in branches. Another idea saw a number of marketing initiatives that had been born from field and employees who worked in the branches.There are a number of reasons why this innovation campaign was successful. The bank had an executive sponsor who was a visionary with influence in the organisation, there was a clear purpose, vision and desired outcomes as well a team of champions who promoted the benefits across the organisation. 

In summary I believe that many organisations are seeing the value of enterprise social and how it supports a number of transformational changes within the organisation. However the level of enterprise social maturity needs to develop to become a wider part of everyday normal practices.

Steve CromptonComment