Social – the next killer app for professional services

SUMMARY:

The social business moniker is a hot topic drawing a wide range of views. In this post, I am looking at ‘social’ from the perspective of the needs I see on the ground among practitioners in the professional services industry.

shutterstock - FF1The social business moniker is a hot topic drawing a wide range of views. In this post, I am looking at ‘social’ from the perspective of the needs I see on the ground among practitioners in the professional services industry.

This is a topic I am passionate about. I speak about it, I write about it, I help build products that encourage it. The social revolution has inspired us to think differently about how Professional Services teams operate and how we can solve long standing project management problems by getting onboard with social technologies. So what makes Professional Services organizations the perfect fit? And how are social technologies changing the landscape of Professional Services (PS) organizations?

It seems some PS teams still fall in the skeptics’ camp, chalking ‘social’ up as just another one of the industry’s tech hypes. I am here to report social is here and it’s here to stay. In fact, today, social users exceed email users and that trend is only growing. But why is Professional Services such a strategic, natural fit?

Easy – Professional Services is an intensely collaborative, project-based, and knowledge-based business. It is completely social by nature. But even though many PS teams are already working socially, they’re doing it the hard way – instant messaging, emails, and/or Skype calls. And to put it mildly, these teams are drowning in pointless email chains and productivity is getting crushed.

Also, these traditional tools (email, Instant Message, etc.) are totally disconnected from the core business systems, with no audit trail and conversations only visible to a select few. Teams are constantly struggling to leverage business-critical knowledge and effectively share information in a timely fashion. How many times are you getting lost in email archive looking for a prior project update? How many times can you answer the same question in an email or send the same document? This is detrimental to a Professional Services Business.

Those days are now gone (or can be!). Social technologies have come in and are letting teams really be teams, delivering collaboration at every turn. Project team members can literally share, update, schedule, broadcast, motivate, document, note anything and everything related to a project across every boundary and time zone with the right tools in place. They can focus on getting things done in lieu of managing project plans.

I should close with a powerful report finding. In “The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity through Social Technologies” the McKinsey Global Institute studied the potential impact of social on multiple industries and found that

Although Social Media will help many industries, Professional Services have just about the greatest potential of any industry to see real ROI benefits. (p. 10)

It’s truly time for Professional Services businesses to take a close look at their adoption of social tools and processes.

Stay tuned for next week’s article when I’ll talk about the types of social technologies and more specific ways that PS teams will benefit.