How To Reap The Benefit From Corporate Social Networking
Nowadays, more and more enterprises are adopting popular enterprise social networks (often known as ESN); these internal tools are designed in accordance with popular social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. The aim of ESN is to leverage and maximize the use of social media, such as facilitating information access and strengthening vertical and horizontal communication, thereby enhancing collaboration between people.
You may have heard of Yammer, Teams, Jive, Chatter, and Jabber, these are some well-known ESN services used for private communication within an organization; but do you know how these corporate social networks have become a thing? Before getting into how you can actually benefit from these ESNs, let’s get into a brief history of it.
This article will cover:
- A brief history of ESN
- Uses Cases
- Famous tools
- Best practices of ESN implementation
- How to effectively use ESN.
A brief history of ESN
At the beginning of the 1990s, in the early days of the Internet, people began to use the Internet to stay connected and to form communities around common interests. Sites like theGlobe.com, which was closed in March 2019 were the main points of online sharing content. These social networks have become so large that everyone wants to participate, including advertisers.
Starting from these early sites, the modern social media platforms that we are used to today, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, were born. Drawing on cues from the massive popularity in the consumer world, social networks targeting companies like Yammer and jabber have also begun to appear and attract attention.
These ESNs were developed as a social network similar to Facebook, but only available for internal business purposes. By using the platform, all team members can communicate with each other via a user-friendly interface which also has an activity feed that shows the latest actions and content of your colleague.
Companies can also see the value of having a communication and collaboration platform, which makes it easier to keep all employees on the same page. Yammer was acquired by Microsoft in 2012 and was the base of Microsoft Teams as we know it today.
Uses cases for ESN
By implementing ESN, a business can streamline their work via:
Employees can discuss work-related issues, such as activities in existing projects, company policies, or industry news via ESN. Besides, the platform allows employees to arrange informal discussions related to hobbies, events, or even birthday parties. These informal discussions can be one of the important factors driving employees’ work satisfaction, leading to work efficiency.
- Ideas and Inputs Generation
This is a two-way process. Employees can share files with their colleagues or links to informative articles, statistics, and research that support their work while posting their requests to ESN regarding policies, projects, technical issues, and even ordering supplies. Therefore, ESN can be used as a knowledge management solution to support employees quickly solve specific problems.
- Updates and events notification
Employes can use the network to notify others about the project’s completion, getting promoted, relocated, and so on. In addition, they can announce upcoming events such as training workshops, seminars, or a presentation, promote these events, and encourage others to take part in them.
- Task management
ESN can help employees organize tasks, which is especially important for tasks that require input from multiple people in a specific order, like contract approval, The ability to track the tasks of other team members help keep everyone on the same page.
Enterprise social network tools
ESN can be deployed in two forms: standalone tools and a complete collaboration platform. Let’s understand what they are!
Some of the well-known standalone tools that can be used as ESN are:
- Slack: This is a messaging application that provides internal and external file sharing, message archiving, and an advanced search as well. The app also supports voice and video calls. Slack offers both mobile and web versions.
- Workplace by Facebook: This is a business-focused twin of the most popular social media platform, Facebook, and is tailored to messaging and team collaboration. Workplace is used to create profiles, unify everyone in the team, share information, organize events, etc.
- Chatter by Salesforce: This tool is known for its ability to empowers users to stay connected, to collaborate, and to share files in real-time. People can also use Chatter as a forum for sharing knowledge and creating polls.
Based on the experience of developing collaboration tools, we recommend you to use a collaboration platform (which is mentioned below) instead of the standalone ESN solution because, without the ability to integrate with other internal systems, these standalone social networks cannot ensure the continuity of enterprise processes and the employee collaboration improvement in the long run.
Collaboration ESN platforms are usually built on an organization’s digital backbone like the intranet, portal, or CRM, etc. A collaboration platform provides communication functions like chat, forum, community, blog, discussion area, and moreover, video conferencing. Some of the well-known collaboration platforms are:
- Yammer: This is an Office 365 collaboration application that can collect, store, and classify conversations, and provide powerful analysis, and reports based on conversations. Yammer can integrate with third-party tools easily. Besides, it is mobile-friendly.
- Microsoft Teams: An Office 365 tool for team collaboration. Microsoft team can help create a safe and isolated collaboration area where team members can communicate, share files, and work on projects together.
These integrations create an ESN that can take full advantage of two aspects: collaboration tools that help ensure effective employee communication, and intranet functions that integrate communication with customers, and associated documents, making them searchable and retrievable.
This combined solution enables companies to streamline business processes, avoid data silos, duplicated, and mishandle old and new documents; this will result in collaboration enhancement.
Best practices for effective ESN implementation
As a top software development outsourcing company in Vietnam, we suggest you follow these practices to effectively implement an internal Enterprise Social Network.
We recommend the following best practices that will help your business social networking tools add value to your organization:
- Internal Training: ESNs can be used to provide internal training due to its wide range of functions and integrations. However, adopting ESN tools can rather be a difficult task, at TP&P technology, we do offer an internal training section for employees where ESN experts will show them how to effectively use this technology to achieve their work goals.
- Tracking and analyzing user metrics: In order to be successful, ESN should be a dynamic system that is continuously improved to adapt to constantly-changing-business-needs. Therefore, you should pay close attention to tracking and analyzing indicators like the number of active users, each user’s contribution (can be the content category, comment, or ratings), etc. This helps make ESNs more user-friendly, have more wanted features, and remove the useless ones.
- Ensuring security and compliance: ESNs can contain the risk of security breaches because of their free sharing of information, links and files feature. This is critical for regulated industries as serious fines may be imposed for security breaches. Therefore, ESN should be equipped with a set of security mechanisms, such as permission levels that make sure the protection of sensitive information and prevent users from viewing, sharing, saving on desktops, and even printing out some certain contain.
Why we need an ESN
We have mentioned some benefits of ESNs above. Now, let’s delve into how you can benefit from ESNs.
Companies often implement them to fill the communication gaps in their team. Companies with distributed teams can earn great achievement using ESN. Via the online communication platform, we can interact with our colleagues worldwide.
But only by using ESNs for communication and socialization, you’ve already missed out on the power of a corporate social network. Using a variety of tools and software to collaborate, manage tasks, share, edit, and manage documents means that work efficiency is reduced due to constant context-switching.
This problem can be solved by using an ESN that is seamlessly integrated with document sharing and collaboration tools. Your team can get the most value out of your ESN implementation project. Think of ESN as the main communication and collaboration center of your organization. No one wants to waste time figuring out which tool they saved which conversation, whether it’s about documents or projects.
This approach is supported by Harvard Business Review. The HBR revealed that teams using ESN found it easier to collaborate and share knowledge across silos. This helps them make decisions faster, develop more ideas, and stay in touch with their colleagues and company.
*Note: Before implementing an ESN, make sure you have answered questions like who would be responsible for maintaining the platform. Some companies centralize ownership and moderation within one team, while others extending the ownership across the whole team.
The workplace thrives thanks to excellent communication and collaboration among all employees. Whether your company is currently working remotely or in a brick-and-mortar office, getting your team members to stay in touch is compulsory for an effective workflow.
Therefore, investing in an enterprise social network is a smart choice. Not only it encourages colleagues to communicate and collaborate across silos but also helps employees be involved in the company activities, leading to more innovative ideas.