The Changing Face of Enterprise Social
We’ve grown so used to certain ways things are done and get so caught up in our daily routines that we don’t even notice when those routines no longer work as effectively or even at all. Enterprise collaboration tools jumps to the top of my list for this category.
What did companies do for collaboration before email? Before Lotus Notes, wikis and intranets? Before Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, Jive and Chatter? Why does it seem that as more tools for collaboration become available, the opposite effect takes root? …and why do we even care? The short answer is “engagement.” The power of a team is directly proportional to the level of engagement that team has toward a common (and believed in) goal.
Whether it’s an old corporate intranet that is still being used sine the late 1980’s or the latest in enterprise social networking, the value is the same but the methods are rapidly changing. So what is it and why do we need it to change? Fundamentally your choices are:
- Email and messaging platforms: What started as a more convenient way to communicate between two people quickly got bastardized into the catchall for every collaboration task and now everyone averages 200 emails per day if not 50 instant message sessions.
- Portals, intranets and wikis: As with most shadow IT projects, many development teams implemented wikis to start to enterprise collaboration ball rolling. This was usually replaced by corporate portals and intranets to meet the less technically inclined’s requirements. Unfortunately, they usually required an army of programmers for even simple changes outside of adding a document to a content management system (CMS).
- Application-specific collaboration tools: There are a number of tools that are either specific to an application (i.e. Salesforce.com’s Chatter) or to a specific class of collaboration (i.e. Atlassian’s Jira for software development and launch).
- Consumer-driven social media sites: It started with the thought that social sites like Facebook and Instagram work in personal lives, so why wouldn’t they work in the business world as well? However, the very nature of these sites for consumer applications is the reason they aren’t as applicable to enterprise usage. These sites are incredibly open, meaning that they have a distinct lack of privacy and security.
- Enterprise social media tools: The darlings of Silicon Valley and billion dollar market caps, products like Yammer and Jive and their like strive to deliver the flexibility and openness of consumer-class social media interaction with the security and privacy required by enterprises. The downside is the allusion of collaboration is typically replaced by “social noise” and a distinct lack of participation or engagement.
- “Actionable social” tools: The latest emerging breed of tools understands that the need for engagement is at the heart of why we even invest in this endeavor in the first place. The new offerings use direct sessions to contain, control and curate a specific conversation in order to maximize participation, foster engagement and promote innovation across employees, partners and customers.
We live in a world where simple and easy is best. It is clear that the new face of enterprise social media must be just that: simple. We do not want complex and confusing tools that ultimately do nothing to help. We want a streamlined and collaborative process. We want crowdsourced, crowsolved and even crowdfunded with the security, privacy and enterprise-specific requirements of even the most demanding regulated corporation.