Empowering Technical Communicators, Connecting with Customers
For technical communicators in particular, integrating the use of social collaboration tools in their daily work could empower them like never before and allow them to serve customers better.
Increasing productivity in distributed teams
As companies have extended their operations across the globe, the technology for facilitating collaboration across geographical boundaries has improved both in terms of the tools available and their usability. Online collaboration tools and enterprise social networks seemingly represent the ultimate solution for increasing productivity in distributed teams.
From inside-out to outside-in
Many digital workers are honing their online skills in a bid to learn, share knowledge, and engage in purposeful two-way dialog both inside and outside their organizations.
My colleague (Elena Olekhnovitch) and I gave a talk at the tekom/tcworld conference 2015 on the subject of enterprise social networking. We shared our thoughts on the evolving role of technical communicators and why we believe that best practices gleaned from internal collaboration activities, be it peer-to-peer, within a cross-discipline team, or interdepartmental, can be applied to external collaboration with customers.
The role of technical communicators is evolving.
We also talked about our own personal experiences collaborating and experimenting with online tools in everyday work.
Prior to the conference itself, Elena and I had only ever met virtually. We used all manner of collaboration tools to prepare our talk and the accompanying material, so our presentation truly relates to “drinking your own champagne”:
Applying the latest technologies internally to work more efficiently and thereby create a proof of concept for a vision of how technical communicators can engage and connect with customers.
Creating a proof of concept
At the conference itself, many discussions focused on the topic of intelligent information and what exactly intelligent information is (!). But interestingly, there was more or less a general consensus that we all need to be able to find the relevant information, that is, we need decent search capabilities, and that standards and technology aside, people and mindset play a major role in going forward with digital transformation.
We didn’t cover this aspect in our talk, but with any form of content, whether technical specifications, user help, or content provide through social networking channels, making sure that the intended readers can find your content is also key!
No matter what the content, readers need to be able to find it!
An HTML version of our slides is available online, and the recording of our talk, including some footage from the event, is available at the Enterprise Social Networking online presentation.
Video: Enterprise Social Networking
The Enterprise Social Networking talk covers why technical communicators should embrace social networking and how virtual collaboration can add real business value.
The speakers (Helen Fawcett and Elena Olekhnovitch) share the human, technological, and organizational challenges for technical communicators working in different time zones and from different cultures. They give tips and recommendations on what collaboration models and tools work best for different types of activities.
They also explore how such models and tools can be applied to make even the most technical forms of documentation more visible, that is, easier for end users to find.
The footage of the tcworld conference 2015 (put together by Elena Olekhnovitch) gives some great general impressions of the event itself: With 250 expert presentations, workshops, and tutorials to choose from, held by 278 international speakers in English and German, there was a great deal of toing and froing between conference rooms in an effort not to miss a thing! This conference is the perfect place for technical communicators to learn, network, and have fun in the process!
Enterprise Social Networking Preview
tekom/tcworld conference, November 10 to 12, 2015, Stuttgart, Germany