Social is not a product. Social is people.

My colleague Sandy Carter says “culture eats strategy for lunch”. And she is right. Social is not about archiving and sharing documents, its about connecting people to people, connecting people to documents, transform documents to insight – and make insight the startpoint of activities.

For years now I have been travelling around holding presentations where I have said that documents have no real value. Documents in an archive does not make money for your business. They does not increase your revenue, lower your cost, improve profit and speed up productivity.

What makes money and creates business value are the activities done by your business. And activites are alwas done by people. So if you want to improve your business and position yourself against the competitions, and stand out from the crowd – then you have to focus on people and activities.

Email was a gigantic productivity booster in the early days. Like the telefax. But who uses a telefax now? And now email is more of a hassel than a productivity booster. Using email as your main collaboration tool is like driving your car only in the first gearshift – with the handbreak on! It slows you down.

But don’t get me wrong. Email is here to stay, just as the phone will. But it will have less importance, it is only one of many ways to collaborate. What we will see is that email will change. It will become social, in the meaning that email clients will be social clients. It will do more than good old mail in and mail out.

It will be the centre of all your communication and all your collaboration. You have seen the beginning oof this if you have updated your Lotus Notes client the recent years. You have seen it become more and more social with new tools in the toolbox on the right side of the client. You have been able to plug in widgets built on open social standards from lot of vendors solving different tasks. Myself I have widgets for booking travels, starting web meetings, finding people, maps etc. You may plug in whatever tool you want.

But I also use two other social tools for collaborating with colleagues and customers; IBM Connections and IBM SmarterCloud for Social Business. And this hs changed my worklife – and also my private life because it makes me more efficient so I get time to have a private life!

Did you know that Volkswagen – the German carmaker – shuts down mail to their employees at the end of the day and opens it next morning. They want to lower the stress level among their employees – so they become more effective at work hours.

A lot of other companies have seen the same and denies employees to use internal email. The result is a more productive staff.

My main workplace now is IBM Connections for internal collaboration and IBM Smarter Cloud for external collaboration. At the end of the workday there are not more than five -5- emails in my inbox. These are email that I will deal with the next day. The rest is either sorted into the right Activity in IBM Connections or – preferred – deleted!

I register each of my customers as an Activity and do all my internal planning and documentation around the customer within this Activity. I know exactly where to find any information and to-do’s around any customer here.

Shared plans and activities with the customer is done in IBM SmarterCloud where I have a Community for each customer and where the customer is invited to a guest account. So from the moment this Community is established all email between me and the customer stops. No more email. All dialogue happens in the Community! All meeting minutes are in the Community, everything!

You should check out this way of working if you have the possibility. Get yourself out of the mailbox, at least bee there as little as possible. It becomes a prison. Think outside the box. Think structure. Think activities. Be different. Be bold.

The only way to change something is to change the way we do things. Time is not important. Time is a resource and we all got 24 hours each day. Nothing is as equal as that. It ‘s the world most democratic resource.

What makes your life and your work better is your activities. So work smart, make things simpler for yourself and work differently.

Try it – it made my life better! Start today, and let me know how you succeeded or failed so we all can learn from it.

Godd luck!