Any enterprise would benefit from a boost in company-wide communication, but the study discussed in the article “Enterprise Social Networking: Focus on Relationships (Altimeter Report)” shows just how challenging instituting a new platform for the exchange of information can be. Enterprise Social Networking is the employment of an internal social networking system within one company that allows for individual profile creation and information dissemination from employees of every department and level within an enterprise.
The article highlights the negative findings, including long term adoption of ESN’s being largely unsuccessful, the high adoption of free tools (which later require switching to expensive premium apps), and the fact that companies have difficulty developing metrics to even tell if the ESN is benefiting them.
Though largely reporting on what is wrong with the way companies are introducing internal social networking, the author gives us a ray of hope from the report:
“The report also includes an actionable plan to get started, while there’s lots of details in the bullet points (filled with real world examples from real research interviews), they include four ways ESNs drive business value, including: 1) Encourage Sharing, 2) Capture Knowledge, 3) Enable Action, and 4) Empower people.”
Hopefully without sounding too middling, I think that this report points to active ESN’s being a very good thing—for some. One could argue that a smaller social network, relegated to the departments who find the most use in it should be a way this technology should ultimately be used. However, the report also shows that it may not be impossible to successfully introduce it on a company wide scale, but more groundwork must be done before people begin creating and abandoning their profiles. A companywide information campaign spelling out the benefits and possible uses could quell some of the doubt, especially when it comes to sharing ideas and instilling in employees a sense of voice and validity of opinion.
Decide for yourself, by reading the report.
Benjamin Reilly March 6, 2012