Enterprise social networks

Tue 07 Oct 2014

What can Enterprise Social Networks – ‘Facebook for the workplace’ – do for your business?

From humble beginnings as a way for students to keep in touch, social networks have become a crucial business tool bringing rapid communication, breaking down silos and offering new opportunities for collaboration. Today, many businesses are reaping the benefits of internal chat systems modelled on public social media platforms. Here are five ways your business could benefit from Enterprise Social Networks (ESN).

Connectivity

You’ve encountered a problem in the workplace. The person to whom you would usually turn has moved to a different floor, a different building, perhaps even a different continent. With globalisation businesses are becoming both bigger and more widespread, resulting in the need to re-establish efficient connectivity between employees within an organisation, and this is one of the main benefit of ESNs.

Knowledge

Peter Crosby, Head Of Brand Voice for TIBCO Software’s ESN, tibbr, says that a business is only as good as the people who work there, and they’re only as good as the knowledge they have. ESNs can gather the expertise of present and past employees and make it accessible to all, regardless of departmental and geographical separation. They also enable businesses to monitor and manage the relevance of knowledge in order to keep it up-to-date.

Collaboration

Inter-departmental and international collaboration is vital for many businesses in an effort to keep up to speed with innovation. ESNs are the areas in which employees right across businesses are encouraged to contribute collectively to the development of business innovation. These informal platforms can make for a highly fertile environment where an employee feels connected and able to contribute to the wider business beyond their own department.

Talent

Encouraging collaborative contribution to knowledge bases can also release the untapped potential of individual specialist knowledge, previously only harnessed within departmental silos. Too often employees are pigeonholed according to their job-descriptions, thus preventing the discovery and distribution of fresh talent within businesses, but ESNs provide opportunities to demonstrate their expertise.

Commentary

In his article ‘9 Benefits of an Internal Social Network’, business journalist Russell Working says ESNs provide “reality checks” for corporations. They create hubs in which employees can individually voice thoughts and opinions for their entire business communities to hear. The result can be a facility, which provides accurate, trusted information from the very people who are responsible for keeping the individual business running. It’s also a way of inviting external commentary from business customers.

Four to watch 

ESN can certainly benefit a business keen on keeping up-to-speed with business development in the modern world, but that is not to say the business can simply implement a platform and expect instantaneous results. It takes time for such a new facility to become commonplace in the workplace. Done right and with patience, though, the results will speak for themselves. Here are four ESN platforms to consider.

1) tibbr – Simplicity, integration and customisation lie at the heart of the first ESN (www.tibbr.com)

2) Yammer – An ESN with a particular commitment to generating success through connectivity and networking (www.yammer.com)

3) Socialcast – Focused on directing and organising conversation within business (www.socialcast.com)

4) Salesforce Chatter – A free ESN, which enables efficient cross-organisational collaboration (www.salesforce.com/chatter/overview)