“People connection to information, information connection to people — that’s really the heartbeat of any one of these collaboration systems,” he said.
Led by Bernoff, Forrester is implementing its own internal collaboration system, the HERO Platform, for the company’s 1,200 employees. The system aims to create HEROs, highly engaged and resourceful operatives.
“Unlike the superheroes that we hear of in comic books, being a HERO in a corporation is not a lonely activity,” Bernoff said. “You need a lot of help. You need to find people who are experts in everything about the company from corporate communications to technology to finance. Without a system that really eases that connection, you are not likely to succeed.”
Most employee collaboration tends to take place by email, with an assist from the telephone, instant messaging and video. A corporate intranet provides a place to post and share documents and information. Forrester’s HERO Platform created a social interface on top of that intranet featuring news feeds, community and group functions and discussion features much like those familiar to many users through Facebook and other consumer network sites. The aim is to help employees more easily make connections with others and get access to the information, people and resources needed to be successful.
Bernoff and the HERO implementation team analyzed the Forrester organization before implementing the system to identify specific needs and capabilities required, such as making sure it was accessible to the company’s mobile, dispersed workforce. But like many shiny new corporate objectives, some organizations shoot first and ask questions later, implementing systems without clearly defining objectives and communicating them to employees.
“You don’t just send an email to everybody in the company and say, ‘Collaborate — click here for our collaboration system,’ and then expect it to work. It’s a rollout and it takes continual planning,” Bernoff said.