Organizations have the ability to leverage the experience and wisdom of an entire workforce to solve a problem or identify an opportunity instead of just relying on a specific team. After speaking at a conference recently someone from a large oil and gas company told me how they couldn't solve a problem of a drill melting at extremely hot temperatures. They posed the problem on their collaborative platform for the thousands of other employees to try to solve and received a solution which was worth over a billion dollars.
Being able to come across a person or piece of information that can be used to improve a situation is a valuable thing. Organizations who deploy collaborative solutions greatly improve the chances of this happening. Employees have the ability to discover information which they can contribute to in a positive way. Lowe's Home Improvement saw this first hand when an employee asked for more of a product to be delivered to a store which other stores were not selling much of. Eventually this employee shared a demo she was doing at one of her stores to sell out of the product and other locations quickly followed. This employee who was asking for additional product happened to share her demo which resulted in over a million dollars in additional revenue.
Easy to find people and information
Email and static intranets are the default forms of communication and collaboration within many organizations. This leads to around 25-30 percent of an employees work week spent in front of email and a large amount of duplicated content. Enterprise collaboration platforms have enabled a much more effective way to find people and information. A way which is self-sufficient (meaning you don't need to ask anyone for anything) and empowering to the employees.
Anyone can be a leader and employees have a voice
When most employees think of a leader at their company they typically think of an executive. Social media has changed what it means to be a leader. Employees now have a voice where they can share their ideas for anyone within the company to see and read. These employees have the ability to become leaders in their own right on any topic that they care about. One of the world's largest consulting firms in the world (hundreds of thousands of employees around the world) has seen this happen first hand where junior and mid-level employees have the most widely followed internal blogs in the company. These employees are not executives but they are leaders with a voice that everyone listens to.
Transparency and flatness
Most organizations in the world are hierarchical and not transparent. It's analogous to climbing a ladder where only the first few rungs are visible and the rest are hidden. This is changing and many organizations are no longer using this as the way to work. Employees (including managers and executives) are now sharing what they are working on, how they are feeling, who they are meeting with, and what is happening with their department or the company as a whole in a discoverable and public way. There is greater insight for employees to understand not just what is happening in their organization but how their individual contributions are impacting something greater.