Executives at my client organizations are often timid when it comes to using social technology inside the organization. One recently explained that he believes collaboration must be done face-to-face, in person. He’s missing the fact that most of his employees neither sit in front of computers nor are acquainted with all the internal experts.

I recently posted for ALI about how to change your language when you talk about social, and the following two examples offer some real-world perspective.

Bring the Data

Sometimes, you have to have data to further the case. For example, one of our clients recently conducted a study to determine how long it takes their employees to find a policy. They conducted the test with employees across the organization and many different policies. It took, on average, 5:48 to find a policy. The team has already learned that social technology – coupled with usability improvements – could help reduce the time to find a policy.

Nielsen Norman Group once reported that it takes just 56 seconds to find a policy on the best intranet, versus 6 minutes and 4 seconds on the worst. Taking the client’s average number of policy searches per day – based on search data – and their average loaded salary, we crunched the numbers. Credit must go to Shannon Ryan at nonlinear creations for a really cool tool to make this easier.

The client could realize a productivity savings of $5.5 million. How much of that improvement could be realized by enabling employees to easily see a list of the top ten most popular policies? 10%? 20%? That could be a $1.1M opportunity; that’s results an executive can wrap his or her head around.

Keep it Simple

Nearly ten years ago I was working with a client on benefits open enrollment. The company was making significant changes that required a lot of employee education. Plus, enrollment was being done 100% online for the first time. Employees – many working in manufacturing environments – needed simple guidance and instruction.

I believed short video podcasts would be the ticket, but I also knew the client was conservative and cautious; they would never use anything they thought smacked of “social media.” So, we called them “short videos.” It didn’t take much to convince them. The podcasts were very successful and helped to smooth the entire enrollment. Afterwards, I told the client the company could lay claim to being an early adopter of social technology.

If you keep the focus on the business prize, the executives will come along with less trepidation. Data paves the way. With a little luck, you’ll create some great success stories that make the next new thing even easier to add. It’s all in how you talk about it.

If you are interested in learning more about intranets, their governance and social technology use inside organizations, I’ll be teaching at this upcoming event: