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Unisys Lets Employees Drive Face Of Social Business

This BrainYard Social Business Leader listens to employees about how they can use social business tools in their jobs.

"Everybody's going to have some social component to their platform," Knab said. Often, it's appropriate for distinct communities such as sales teams to be able to have their own separate social network for conversations that don't concern the rest of the company. On the other hand, sales people also have access to NewsGator when they want to have a conversation with the broader organization.

One of the things that really matters to the sales team is "market agility," Burke said. The kind of ready access to experts provided by the social communities is paying off now that sales can use a mobile device such as a tablet to get answers to customer questions. In the old days, they'd have to go back to the office, figure out who to ask, and then wait for an answer, she said. "Now they can often find out who the subject matter expert is, pose the question, and get the answer before they even leave the [client's] office. That's impressive to the client."

Knab said the experience also points up the value of learning from experience, which is something the NewsGator team stressed "but maybe we didn't quite believe it." In other words, "don't engineer it or try to treat it like a typical program -- jump in and do it, let it get started, and then mature it."

"We spent time on a pilot when in retrospect we should have just deployed," Burke agreed. In retrospect, she also wishes she had introduced role-based workshops on the value of social networking earlier. "A focused audience approach was much more effective and really drove the usage," she said.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and

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