7 Replies Latest reply: Apr 20, 2012 2:34 PM by Tracy Maurer RSS

    Enterprise Q&A Advice?

    Nikki Bussard

      We're planning to initiate an Enterprise Q&A initiative. The idea would be to have an open group where anyone could ask a question about anything business-related, along the lines of what McAfee/AIIM describe in their paper When Social Meets Business Real Work Gets Done.

       

      McAfee summarizes it like this:

      Enterprise Q&A (EQ&A), or the ability to ask questions at large – to an unknown and unspecified audience – without having to guess in advance who might be able to answer them. Enterprise Q&A is a technologically-facilitated way to achieve serendipity.

       

      Is anyone doing this now? If so, any advice? My main question is around how do you manage questions to the "unspecified audience" that are also appropriate in a group related to a special interest? For instance, say you have groups around different functions in your company: Technology, Creative, Marketing, Project Management, etc. If someone asks a question in the generic group, should you move it to the related interest group? Or vice versa? Or just let them post anywhere and use a common tag to cross-surface content (something like #gotaquestion)?

       

      The advantage of posting everything in the generic group is that email links that go out in alerts from the main group when it is originally posted will still be valid, and the interest group followers will also get an alert when the discussion is moved. I would still tag it and re-surface it in the original group in a feed. You also make it easy for people to do, since they don't have to decide where to post. The disadvantage is that you lose ability to use analytics to track who is answering the questions and therefore might deserve some kind of reward. You also can't filter by unanswered questions in a feed, and it requires some overhead to maintain.

       

      I could list pros and cons of other options as well, but would rather get real feedback from folks who are doing this now. Thanks in advance.

        • Re: Enterprise Q&A Advice?
          saramiller

          Hi, Amber. Thanks for your question. I am also very interested in hearing from users who have tried this.

           

          Although I have not tried it yet, I plan on creating a Q&A forum for our users at our "re-launch" in a few weeks. My plan is to not re-create any spaces that we have today in advance of our launch (unless specifically asked by the managing team). Once a topic has garnered enough interest on the Q&A forum, I will direct those users to a new space dedicated to that topic. (Side note: I'm also launching a Water Cooler space that I expect will spin off into specific Social Groups.)

           

          As a community manager, this approach makes sense to me since most of what I do is connect users with questions to the people with answers anyway.

           

          Looking forward to others' thoughts on this. Thanks!

          • Re: Enterprise Q&A Advice?
            Ted Hopton

            We set up an "Ask All of UBM" space a long time ago (having seen CSC's similar set up, thanks to sharing from Claire Flanagan). We not only made it the top of the list of spaces but featured a graphic promoting and linking to it from the main page.

             

            It took a while for it to catch on (I can't recall now how slow the uptake was), but it's now *the* place to post a company-wide question if you don't know a better place to ask. It's actually a mix of business questions which have proved invaluable in getting responses quickly and usefully, with fun threads on movies, music, etc., which I don't feel so proud of, but that do engage many people.

             

            I highly recommend such a central Q&A place. Of course, monitor it and help make it work! Cross-post in groups where people likely to know the answer are (you likely know those places better than the person who posted the question). And don't forget to be the hands-behind-the-curtain: alert contacts you have who could answer the question and ask them to post responses to it. Use your network :-)

              • Re: Enterprise Q&A Advice?
                Gary Williams

                Hi Todd....How does your community use this space compared to status updates?  We're still in a soft launch phase but we've seen people have success posting generic type questions via a status update that are then socialized via their network.  Example: Jane posts "Does anyone know anything about X?", John is following Jane sees the question doesn't know the answer but shares it with Phil who he thinks might know the answer.  Phil responds to Jane's status telling her to contact Sally.


                That type of an example has happened several times so we've thought about promoting that approach to general question asking.  I'm curious if you see the same thing in your community or if that happens in just your Q&A place.

                 

                -Gary

                  • Re: Enterprise Q&A Advice?
                    Ted Hopton

                    Hi Gary,

                     

                    We don't use status updates widely. We are still on 4.5 and they have not truly caught on widely. I hope that will change with our upgrade to Jive 5 this weekend.

                     

                    Still, I see the Q&A space as distinctly different from status updates. For me to see a question in your status update I have to either be following you or looking at the entire company's activity stream. I am not going to do the latter often, and there is so much flowing through there that the odds of me seeing your question are low. So, your reach in a status update is not really very far, in my experience.

                     

                    The Q&A space, on the other hand, is followed by many people who like both to help and stay informed. I should explain...

                     

                    So, after a year or so as "Ask All of UBM" I changed the space to "All UBM News and More." It was already getting good traction for questions so it seemed a natural evolution to make it a place for announcements, too. It's not used an awful lot for that, but I also moved our Help Wanted job posting space within it. Investor Relations has a space within it, too, where all the analyst reports and anything related to our stock price gets posted. We have a Hall of Fame space there, too. So it's a space people follow both for the Q&A and for news, too.

                     

                    Anyway, my point is that when you post a question there it not only gets in front of a lot of people all across the company who are following the space, but it sits there. Someone checking out the space tomorrow or the next day will see it. But they aren't likely to see your question in your status update days later -- it has been buried in the activity stream.

                     

                    Of course, it's not an either-or choice! Great to suggest to people to post questions in as many ways and places as they can to increase the chances they get an answer. So, I'd tell people to use the Q&A place as well as their status update.

                  • Re: Enterprise Q&A Advice?
                    Nikki Bussard

                    Wow, thanks Ted. I'm all over the hands-behind-the-curtain. I'm hoping we will have a dedicated person or people looking at this space acting as a connector (e.g., forward the question to the people we think can answer it and ask them to respond), as well as someone from each large domain area keeping an eye out for opportunities to make connections.

                     

                    Are you guys offering any incentives for answering the questions? If so, how does it work?

                     

                    Also, do you ever move questions if they seem like they belong nicely in an interest group? It sounds like you are just posting an alert, which I think would also work. However, I am concerned that my interest group owners will want all content related to their domain listed in their groups, and will want to track the closure of these questions as part of their own metrics. For example, our Project Managers group was the first group we started. It is the best managed and most successful group we have, and the owner of that group has an interest in seeing all PM-related queries and answers stored there. Did you have that issue? Perhaps, like so many other things social-business-related, I just need to "get over it" and be happy that people can get their question answered. But since I know it will come up, I'd like to be ready with an answer if possible.

                     

                    Claire Flanagan, I'd love to hear your thoughts as well.

                      • Re: Enterprise Q&A Advice?
                        Ted Hopton

                        Ha, we're pretty laid back about where content goes (maybe too much so...). I suppose we may have moved a post or two into a more targeted place, but in general we don't. We have a pretty widely used practice of cross-posting, so we ensure the original post is where all the comments take place and people just post links to it with a short message like, "This post is really important for people in our group." I would think blog posts like that in your PM group would serve the need, if not perfectly.

                         

                        No incentives for answering questions! I am not a believer in that, personally. We want to develop a culture where helping is just what we do, it's part of your job. Happily, I find many people are eager to share their knowledge and experience, and as people have done this over the years, it's become more and more widespread. I still want more of it, of course!