Enterprise social media usually causes people to change the way
they’ve been working. In many cases, that’s a good thing, because organizations
with silos, entrenched professional hierarchies, and far-flung operations stand
to gain the power locked up in sequestered data and sequestered people. But to tune
into the drumbeat of the social media buzz, one might think enterprise social
media is the right fit for any organization. Like any other technology,
enterprise social media won’t necessarily be for everybody.

Common scenarios

Sriram Chakravarthy (pictured at right), Vice President of Product and Engineering (tibbr) at TIBCO, says he sees some common scenarios emerging for
those organizations benefitting the most from social in the enterprise.

“Any company that has employees who are working remotely or
in the field, regardless of their size, can see tremendous benefit from social
collaboration software,” he said. “As soon as you have people who are
separated by walls or geographical distance, businesses begin to struggle with
transparency, communication, and keeping everyone working towards the same
objective. Organizations that are constantly generating and sharing content, as
well as interacting with customers on a daily basis, are able to use social
collaboration software as a team working space that keeps employees connected,
allowing them to get real work done together.”

Solving problems

Getting work done together means having something other than
email to help focus the barrage of information where it is needed. Social media
platforms tend to do that, while also helping to solve problems related to:

  • Information being lost or misplaced;
  • Not enough relevant information available for
    making decisions;
  • Information already in the organization’s
    possession that should have been considered in decisions, but it wasn’t
    available when the decisions had to be made;
  • Customer relationships that are suffering
    because team members aren’t or can’t share information timely and effectively;
  • People aren’t able to easily and effectively
    share their insights, experience, and contacts.

Beyond considering the problems to be solved, organizations can
also look to their company’s business and IT goals as indicators to recommend
enterprise social. Ian Gertler (pictured at left), director of corporate marketing and communications
for Deltek (owners of the social
collaboration platform Kona) says the purposes or objectives can be
as varied as the organizations.

“While we have a huge span of both professional and personal
users that fall into many different categories and organizational sizes, social
collaboration really is based on the people using it, and the goals they’re
looking to achieve together,” he said.

As a cloud-based collaboration environment, Kona is quick and
easy to start using. Gertler says an organization can often get by with little
involvement on the part of IT; this makes it simple to use for small-to-medium
size businesses, internal company teams, or even non-profit and educational
organizations with limited IT resources. But, he says there can be strong cases
when IT may want to spearhead adoptions. Some of those times include:

  • Protecting network information, while enabling
    internal and external collaboration. External individuals don’t have access to
    the company’s private network, and network credentials aren’t exposed to the
  • Enabling peer support where peer-to-peer
    communities trigger knowledge sharing and issue resolution with team members,
    rather than involving IT directly.
  • Reducing ticket escalation rates and email inbox
    overload problems.

IT advantages

IT can also find opportunities in using enterprise social media
for its own purposes, such as resolving hyper-sensitive issues quicker,
providing the “pulse” of projects to IT leaders, speeding up learning
on pilot projects, and lowering overall administration burdens.

Key questions to ask

When an organization is considering social media collaboration,
it also has the option of hosting it on premise. TIBCO’s Chakravarthy outlines
five key questions to ask that will help to determine social collaboration fit,
and provide clues as to what type of platform might work out the best.

  • Are there team members not regularly in the
  • Is there anything beyond basic email allowing
    the team to share ideas and files, and to connect with the business
    applications they use?
  • Is there something in place that allows
    employees to access their shared information and resources from mobile devices?
  • Are there plans in place to expand the business
    and, if so, what kind of process is in place to share the existing knowledge?
  • Is there a large number of customers who would
    like to have more contact with the organization, and who want to share more
    information in a private, secure manner?

Empowerment rules

Deltek’s Gertler notes that there are always going to be a
variety of reasons and goals for exploring new technologies and processes. For
IT departments, it’s about making the business run better. However, the real
purpose is empowering people in project-based businesses and beyond to get
things done — whether that involves removing unnecessary and time-consuming
meetings to create better team processes or eliminating technology challenges
for users so they can collaborate with their teams better and more efficiently.

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