Large corporations are starting to have social networks to promote communication, collaboration and information among their employees. Employees in turn are encouraged to share ideas for a better working environment via the Intranet. Companies use such platforms to trade information between teams and employees.
Some like IBM have created the Beehive Research Project, encouraging their employees to interact and connect via social networks. The corporate world is discovering the social outreach of networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to connect with their customers and have an interactive forum where they can share information, communicate and develop a personal rapport with their customers. Though these social networking sites provide amazing opportunity for communication and active engagement, the viable benefits have been in doubt unless business leaders understand how these social initiatives will improve their work practices and the people they engage with.
Enterprise social networks will become the primary communication channels for noticing, deciding or acting on information relevant to carrying out work. However, Gartner, Inc. estimates that through 2015, 80 percent of social business efforts will not achieve the intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology.
“Businesses need to realize that social initiatives are different from previous technology deployments,” said Carol Rozwell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
“Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, followed a “push” paradigm. Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a “pull” approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can’t be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in.”
This means that the leaders of social business initiatives need to shift their emphasis away from deciding which technology to implement. Instead they should focus on identifying how social initiatives will improve work practices for both individual contributors and managers. They need a detailed understanding of social networks: how people are currently working, who they work with and what their needs are.
“There is too much focus on content and technology, and not enough focus on leadership and relationships,” said Ms. Rozwell. “Leaders need to develop a social business strategy that makes sense for the organization and tackle the tough organizational change work head on and early on. Successful social business initiatives require leadership and behavioral changes. Just sponsoring a social project is not enough — managers need to demonstrate their commitment to a more open, transparent work style by their actions.”
Gartner outlined two additional key predictions around social and collaboration:
By 2016, 50 percent of large organizations will have internal Facebook-like social networks, and that 30 percent of these will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today.
“The popularity and effectiveness of social networking sites as a group communication tool among consumers is prompting organizations as well as individual employees to ask whether similar technologies can be deployed privately,” said Nikos Drakos, research director at Gartner. “There is increasing interest for using social technologies within organizations to connect people more effectively, to capture and reuse valuable informal knowledge, and to deliver relevant information more intelligently where it is needed through social filtering.”
Using Facebook-like enterprise social networking software for communication has several advantages over email and traditional check-in/check-out repository-centric collaboration in terms of information capture and reuse, group organization, and social filtering. A Facebook-like social networking environment within an organization can be used as a general-purpose communication channel where information and events that originate in external systems — such as email, office applications and business applications — can be injected into conversations, and vice versa. With an understanding of the key influencers in the social network, communication channels will become even more effective.
By 2017 the majority of all new user-facing applications will exhibit gamified-social-mobile fusion, predicts Gartner.
Three key feature sets (social, mobile and gamification) are already emerging in the marketplace in user-facing applications. These features increase the attractiveness, usability and effectiveness of the applications they are found in. Over the next five years, these three feature sets will continue to co-emerge and fuse into a superset, such that, by 2017, they will appear in the majority of user-oriented applications and apps.
The below example is an illustration of an Enterprise Gamification which can help derive business benefits such as improved customer satisfaction, high quality knowledge and articles, faster response times, high performing and motivated employees.
“Users should include gamified-social-mobile fusion as a desired set of characteristics when evaluating new application investments,” said Tom Austin, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “Applications and app-providers that fail to exploit the benefits of gamification-social-mobile fusion should expect underwhelming adoption, and therefore sales, of any user-facing products competing against alternatives that exploit the benefits of this fusion.”
According to IBM’s CEO study, social media usage is expected to more than triple in the next five years.
Enterprise social business has started to heat up with players like Microsoft acquiring popular enterprise network Yammer and IBM re-positioning its aging Lotus Notes collaboration software with the new enterprise social business software, IBM Connections.
Does your enterprise have a social network strategy? Let us know in comments!