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Enterprise Social Networking

by Vivek on January 20, 2015

What’s the big idea?
By Shobha B H

Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) is not exactly a new concept. However, its adoption in India has been subject to many debates – ranging from security to implementation. But are the concerns well-founded? A tool that is being broadly adopted across the globe surely must have some credit. Let’s clear the air.

Demystifying ESN

ESN, like any other social medium today, helps bring people and information together and is used to connect people working towards common goals.

Why should organisations start investing in an ESN platform?

  • The Need to Engage Millennials
    Today’s Gen Y, born in the internet age, has grown up with social media such as Facebook and Twitter. They are accustomed to interaction through social mediums and can multitask easily. These platforms make it easy for them to build connections
  • The Necessity to Collaborate Globally
    Markets today boast competition that is unprecedented in human history. Constant exchange of information and collaboration is imperative. It is essential that organisations move away from traditional methods of communication and adopt more viable tools that are designed to listen and respond faster
  • Brand Associations
    The present workforce is a very young demography which thrives on social media. It is essential for a brand to appear relevant to this generation and create an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation. ESN does just that by creating an ‘open and transparent’ work environment.

Can any enterprise embark on this journey?

Most enterprises today want to implement ESN. However, there is a dilemma on how to manage an open style of working. People are slowly recognising the need for transparent exchange of information that comes with ESN.

Any organisation can adopt ESN by addressing these three basic criteria:

  • Organisational success with social media is fundamentally a leadership and management challenge, not a technology implementation. 80% is cultural change and the role played by technology is a mere 20%.
  • Employee acceptance is key to the success of ESN. Participation by all sections of the organisation is essential.
  • Inculcating an environment that fosters collaboration is vital. There should be a healthy mix of business-driven needs and common interests and passions, the latter engaging at least 20-25% of the community with photography, trekking, etc.

The key takeaway here is not to judge the capabilities of the platform, instead understand the organization and its ability to change.

How does one start?

A successful ESN is led by 80% culture and 20% by the platform capabilities. Contrary to popular beliefs, ESN is not an IT initiative – it needs a much broader level of acceptance. All, or at least most, levels of organisation must be eager to participate in this change. To extract value from the investment, it is necessary to integrate businesses and transform the way people work.

  • Have a clear vision of why you want to introduce this platform in the enterprise
  • Define the business outcomes you want to achieve
  • Identify community managers who are passionate about driving this change and can bring people together
  • Put a plan in place to measure, iterate, and adapt periodically

What are the main challenges in India?

  • Internet Connectivity
    One of the primary issues in implementation, as far as India is concerned, is the lack of good internet connectivity – it is a still very much a luxury.
  • Risk and Compliance
    With information being so easily accessible, industries associated with IP such as ITES, Banking, Pharma, and Manufacturing are apprehensive about security risks. This however can be tackled with user education about the medium, risk mitigation plans, and a well-defined social media policy in the company.

What should you look for in an ESN tool?

‘Why can’t we build this on our own?’, ‘Why should we invest?’ – These are common questions posed when ESN are discussed.

To answer this, a few questions have to be considered:

  • Can your organisation keep up with the pace of innovation?
  • What is your scale of operations? Can an internal platform deliver the same?
  • Can your organisation deliver a seamless user experience? Interface makes a huge difference
  • Can your organisation develop a platform that can easily integrate with the rest of your investments?
  • And, does your internal platform have the ability to search and find right information quickly?

To conclude, ESN is a solution that most existing and future workforce need to perform better – it’s about redefining the way people work. Adoption requires a cultural change and a passion to integrate different sections of an organisation. To grow globally, one has to think and act globally and ESN can help you achieve just that.

(The writer is Enterprise Social Lead, India, Microsoft)

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