In the session The Social Workplace: Rethinking Communication and Collaboration in the Age of Social Networks, Nikos Drako asks us if we removed instant messaging, wikis and widgets, emails or the phone from our work environment, would we still be able to continue to work as we currently do? A majority of those in the room said no. Collaboration is important, but they are only as good as the mission-critical investments that support it. In other words, not very good.
Becoming Part of the Enterprise Conversation
Considering that social networking is already an indispensable personal communications tool, many companies are contemplating building enterprise social networks. But what is it and what will it do? The easy answer is “a private Facebook.” The more complicated answer involves making an investment that properly supports enterprise collaboration initiatives.
Just like social media strategies, creating an enterprise social network is unique to each company. Deriving value from it comes from three primary sources:
- Communication — Is it visible? Is information distributed across channels, people?
- Knowledge Capture — Is content being reused? Are ideas and conversations that would otherwise persisting and being captured effectively?
- Relevance & Findability — Are users being influenced by recommendations, social filtering and other user-generated content?
Broadcast Your Message: Email v. Social Networks
However, before companies can begin to find value in social networks, it’s important to look at what platforms are currently the most valued and why. It’s email, of course! Email messages are safe, secure, ubiquitous and for the most part, accurate. In contrast, messages broadcasted across social media and networks are speedy, encompass a wide audience, and can be reused and shared more easily. By determining your goals for messages and information created, it’s important to see how they align with the appropriate platform.
Contrasting email and social networking in using them for information distribution
Additionally, goals for enterprise social networks must offer appropriate incentives for users, as well as meaningful rewards and acknowledgements so they are more likely to adopt and use for collaborating and capturing conversations.
Social Warrants Mission Critical Investments
Finally, Drakos cautions us to balance our enthusiasm for social networks with the inherent risks that come with them. Many of the risks are exactly why the C-Suite or IT doesn’t want to develop enterprise social networks, yet they are faced with an increasing need to harness, leverage and empower the future of social business. For every knowledge capture or collaborative workflow initiated, there are issues with data retention, privacy, content reliability and authorization that need to be configured.
These issues shouldn’t be ignored nor should they be reason enough to halt the development of an enterprise social network. Instead, their solutions must be supported by the mission critical investments that support the other parts of the enterprise. By 2015, Drakos says that 40% of the enterprise will have a corporate Facebook of some sort. To keep up, companies need to start investing in social as a part of the overall company mission or else risk stifling productivity, innovation and culture.