Enterprise social networks (ESN) where do they fit in your digital strategy?
For a start Enterprise social networks wouldn’t exist without being in some way a component of a digital strategy. ESN’s are formed as part of a broader decision to adopt Social Business as a new way of doing work. A social business strategy fits hand in glove with a digital strategy.
Whilst digital provides the infrastructure, eg., Web, Mobile, Cloud, social provides the mechanism for conversations to be shared and embraced by all members of a corporate community. How many times have you had an email conversation with a colleague with the content of the emails known only to the few of you involved in the email. Also at some point one of you is going to leave the organisation, what happens to the conversation then? The email account is closed and possibly archived but in practise it is virtually never accessed again, so the content and context surrounding the conversation is effectively lost forever.
A digital strategy defines the tools you’ll use to communicate and process business issues. A social strategy defines the incredibly important aspect of how you communicate and collaborate between employees, customers, suppliers and other business stakeholders.
Technology – an enabler of social business
Your enterprise social network is based on software from vendors including Jive Software, IBM, Microsoft (Yammer), Tibco, MangoApps, Lithium and so on and is the delivery vehicle for your social business strategy. All interactions happen digitally, in the form of:
- page based conversations
- presence awareness conversations
- video conferencing conversations
- integrated business process conversations
The original term for these was “multi-media” and in those days each item lived largely independently of the other elements. Today’s ESN’s bring all these digital elements together to form a powerful bank of information and knowledge, that can be used over and over, contributing to; lessons learned, faster decisions, better decisions.
Lawyers representing their clients in court have used historical events and precedents to assist them with their case management. The information retrieved in this manner is crucial to a lawyers armoury. It makes you wonder why it has taken so long for the rest of the corporate world to catch on that conversations bring context to content.
Your ESN then forms a part of your digital strategy and it uses the other other components extremely well. The basis of an ESN is the ability to share content and conversations, irrespective of time and place. Cloud has revolutionised the ability to remove the obstacles of place. Organisations are now moving to Cloud based services for both platform and applications in a volume that would have been mocked and scoffed at a mere two years ago.
Cloud offers opportunities to break down geographic barriers and put information into the hands of people wherever they are. Mobile brings ESN information to employees without regard for time. An employee can choose whether they want that sort of connectedness, but if they do, for example when travelling interstate or abroad they can keep abreast of what’s happening back at their office or in fact at any office within the organisation.
Office routines are changing, time spent at the office is diminishing, in favour of a more flexible arrangement. All the more reason why ESN’s will come into their own as this decade unfolds.
If you are considering what elements you should have in your digital strategy, ensure that social business and an enterprise social network are first priority selections.
If you need some help with creating a business case for social take a look at my blog or speak with me directly.