Social networking sites and platforms are becoming a forum for engineering problem solving. Manoj Babu Mathew explains how Infosys benefits from social networking.
How does Infosys use social networking?
Formal and structured training processes such as certification programs, training programs and classroom sessions fail in their ability to transfer implicit knowledge — the little tricks that allow people to be more productive. At Infosys we wanted to set up an organization that revolved around a community of practices. Within the company, we set up forums and state what areas we want employees to start talking about. People then find their own peer groups based on interest, be it manufacturing, plastics, simulation or ballistics. We then create the right tools (a wiki, blogs, meeting sessions) to start sorting out solutions.
From this process, we can then identify where we need to formally deliver competence through structured courses and deliver learning into a larger pool, especially for new employees.
Why does social networking work for Infosys?
This is how engineers network. Before social networking tools, most engineers participated in physical, regional networking groups. A lot of learning used to happen in those. Companies would also have super users — someone employees can go to with problems.
Now at Infosys social networking tools are critical because of the rate at which we hire engineers straight out of college. The Infosys workforce is largely very youngand it's fair to say younger engineers adopt these social networking technologies early. And the tools are easy for others to adopt because they're very straightforward to use. Getting on is easy, stating a problem is easy and elevating a response is easy.
Do these tools help Infosys in other areas of business?
We have started using wikis in our consulting engagements, where we work with our customers to build a solution. We're able to capture the thought process on both sides as to how you evolve from stating the problem to defining the solution. This is starting to be a trend in the company.
We've also had engineers go out and take something they've learned and developed in a social networking environment and gain recognition for it or relay that information to a larger audience. That's where external user groups and white papers come in.
Does using social networking present any challenges?
With any social networking site there is the risk of compromising information. With the external user groups, you always wonder if the information presented has been vetted by the company. When relaying social networking information into the external world, we validate what moves out so we don't compromise technical information. We have to be careful here from a reuse perspective.
Manoj Babu Mathew is practice head, Product & Lifecycle Engineering Services, Americas at Infosys.