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In March, I attended the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas with over 10,000 other attendees from over 85 countries. A major theme of the conference was the Enterprise Social Network. Conference attendees were encouraged to use the hashtag #worklikeanetwork.

Many readers are probably talented and knowledgeable professionals responsible for the care and feeding of public social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Instagram, etc. The goal is to maximize the effectiveness of these platforms for the businesses served.

The Problem

Employees, customers, and business partners want to use modern social media-like tools that operate in a private and secure environment. They want a better experience with faster response. To meet this challenge, companies need the ability to collaborate with tools that allow everyone to work as a network, but in an open and transparent way that’s secure from the general public.

 

Nobody is smarter or faster than everybody.

 

Enterprise Social Network Defined

An Enterprise Social Network is a collection of social tools that connect employees with business partners, and customers. These tools provide everyone with the ability to access knowledge and resources they need to work together effectively and solve business problems quickly. These tools often include intranets, and extranets, where teams of people can work together around a common topic. One popular tool that comes to mind in this space is Microsoft SharePoint. Other social media tools like Yammer and Socialcast, Jive Software or IBM Connections can also improve communications and collaboration between employees. These tools have a look and feel similar to Facebook and Twitter, but can deliver an immediate solution that align workers around a business problem in a secure private network.

Enterprise Social Network Features

Below is a list of features that might be found in an Enterprise Social Network:

  •     Rich User Profiles and Management
  •     Possible support for external users or networks (outside the business)
  •     Relationships based primarily on organizational membership, unlike Facebook “Likes”
  •     Allows users to communicate with each other in an open and public way by default
  •     Groups and Permissions
  •     Support for Files, Lists, Libraries, and Notes
  •     Tag content (keywords, taxonomy, folksonomy)
  •     Robust Search
  •     Recognition & Rewards (Gamification)
  •     Analytics Engine to track usage, participation, likes, replies, etc.
  •     Integration with Intranet, Extranet, and maybe the Internet
  •     CRM Integration
  •     Office Integration
  •     Content Management System (CMS)
  •     Unified Communications (IM)
  •     Workflow
  •    Task & Project Management
  •     Personal Filters, Subscriptions, Alerts, Notifications

Enterprise Social Network Challenges

 Gartner says the vast majority of social collaboration initiates fail due to lack of purpose. The report indicated that 70% of organizations tried social technologies, but only achieved a 10% success rate. In the study, they found that “Build it and they will come” does not work. The technology is not difficult to provide. The biggest challenge is cultural adoption and integrating with day-to-day activities. Implementing an Enterprise Social Network is roughly a 20% technology project, and 80% a business transformation project that will have a profound impact on all employees, the company itself, and potentially the companies and customers they interact with.

Enterprise Social Network Benefits

When implemented and managed properly, an Enterprise Social Network can be very beneficial. Ideally, they will encourage sharing of information in a public transparent way. No more silos of information, or treasure-troves of knowledge locked away on individual computers or email accounts. These tools will capture worker knowledge across the enterprise so it can be shared and used by everyone, in a secure manner. An Enterprise Social Network will enable action, and empower participants.

Office Graph – Codename Oslo

 

Social Business Software

Office Graph Insights

Microsoft has been working on a new project codenamed, “Oslo”, which will arrive later in 2014 as “Office Graph”. This tool maps the relationships between people and information by tracking likes, posts, replies, shares, and uploads. In a game-changing move, Microsoft is extending this concept to Office broadly by integrating with email, social conversations, documents, sites, instant messages, meetings, and more. 

The UI looks very similar to Pinterest and is touch enabled. It delivers personalized insights and connects the dots to help people get their jobs done. Behind the scenes it uses sophisticated algorithms that find and display items that will be of the greatest interest to each user.

Are you using any Enterprise Social Network tools? Which ones? What has your experience been? If you’re not using any Enterprise Social Network tools, how come? What challenges are you facing in your organization?

 

Rick Fogerty

Rick Fogerty

Rick Fogerty is a degreed professional with over fifteen years of experience with Microsoft Gold Partners in Dallas. For the past ten years his passion and specialty emphasized Enterprise Collaboration using SharePoint. His focus is now on the Enterprise Social Network using Yammer.  Rick has broad industry experience in communications, consumer finance, energy (Oil & Gas), healthcare, manufacturing, media entertainment, non-profits, public utilities, retail, and transportation.

In addition to his full-time job, Rick is an active volunteer with the American Red Cross on the Disaster Services, and Public Affairs teams. And since 2011, Rick is a dedicated volunteer for the Valley Ranch Association where he established and manages all the Social Media platforms including the blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.