Guest post written by Ashley Furness, who has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. Currently, her research focuses on various topics related to CRM software, sales, customer service and marketing strategy.
Most people wrongly assume social enterprise networks are simply Facebook for business. If that were the case, Microsoft wouldn’t have dropped $1.2 billion to replicate one of the biggest work distractors.
Augment transparency, accountability and communication efficiency
Social enterprise platforms move conversations from someone’s inbox to the public, so management has continuous insight into the team’s progress. This prevents work duplication and redundancies and drastically reduces the need for emails, phone calls and meetings. Salesforce surveys, for example, show Chatter reduces email 30 percent and meetings 27 percent.
Streamline project management
Users also reported advantages with project management. Social enterprise platforms use shortcuts that make relevant conversations easier to find (using the #keyword, for example).
Also, users can quickly wrap co-workers into the conversation with the @username function. The end user immediately receives an alert that someone has referred to them in the news stream. They can find that conversation thread and get context just scanning through the conversation.
Find experts, information and insights faster
Social enterprise vendors have invested heavily in social and adaptive intelligence. These sophisticated algorithms suggest articles, files and experts based on the user’s position, connections, group memberships and resources they’ve previously accessed. “Chatter knows what you care about based on your activities, making it’s value immeasurable,” said Dave King, Chatter Product Marketing Director. As a result, employees are better informed and can answer questions before they even know they have them.
Centerstance Inc. Managing Partner Greg Lueck recalled one situation where a partner needed someone certified in Cast Iron software integration who spoke Mandarin. The resource manager working with the partner posted the query in the news feed. “They had an answer within 30 seconds… in Mandarin,” Lueck remembers. In this and similar scenarios, the employee would have otherwise “relied on a central repository of all company’s experience that is located in one person’s head, or nowhere at all.”
Generate more, better ideas and boost engagement
Social enterprise platforms provide a platform for crowdsourcing innovation – from responding to queries and surveys, to posting ideas in a group discussion threads. Users receive gratification when co-workers and leadership “like” their contribution. Then, they are continually rewarded as they watch project teams bring the idea to fruition.
This connection helps employees feel more connected with leadership and therefore engaged in the business. Deloitte, for example, pulls reports from Yammer to identify employees with high engagement and positive feedback on the platform. The more a user interacts with groups, downloads articles and responds to queries with the same keywords, the more they are distinguished as thought leaders on a subject.
“This is one key way to rise up in the firm–get recognized as someone who drives connectivity,” Farrall added.
A Work in Progress
These apps aren’t perfect. Several companies responded to this story saying the platform was more “of a distraction” than a value driver. They cited issues with file sharing, inefficient search, lack of customization, and bugs with mobile functionality. Even so, interest continues to grow as technology improves. From what I’ve learned, the question is no longer if socialized business will become the norm, but when.
How do you derive value from social enterprise apps? Join the conversation with a comment here.