If you see 10 internal emails in your inbox, all with the same subject line, that conversation probably should have taken place in a social enterprise platform instead of contributing to email overload. Many companies have rolled out an enterprise social network, but lack of user adoption and reversion back to email for all communication are signs that it’s time to revamp those efforts.
At some companies, social enterprise tools are presented as completely separate communication channels, but that’s a mistake. Part of this problem could be that some vendors have sold these solutions to companies as completely revolutionary technology that’s going to change the way employees do everything. While that revolution may occur eventually, in the short term it’s more realistic to expect people to spend a significant portion of their communication time in email, and do a little bit of collaboration through social tools like Yammer.
A more helpful approach would be to think of an enterprise social network (ESN) as a more effective way to communicate within teams and across the organization, rather than a wholly separate communication channel.
For example, let’s consider the case of an international conservation nonprofit with project teams around the world. Its main communication objective was to improve knowledge management, sharing best practices and expertise from different conservation projects while reducing overlapping efforts.
Previously, the nonprofit had used a database of traditional lessons-learned reports that captured this information after the project was complete. Maintaining and using this database was labor-intensive and cumbersome.
An ESN offered the nonprofit a way to move lessons-learned conversations into real time. An expert in Africa could post information and immediately get a response from a team member in South America, creating a real global network instead of isolated file shares.
This social enterprise approach to knowledge management also lowers cost and mitigates risk by preventing an isolated project team from going down the wrong path for months before someone speaks up.
If your company has already implemented social enterprise projects in the past, you stand to benefit from upgrading your approach. Here are a few benefits to consider:
- More streamlined communication: By integrating social enterprise tools into existing channels, you’re able to improve team communication by steering important information into threaded conversations. This reduces redundant back-and-forth communication and creates a virtuous cycle. As team members see others contributing to conversations, they also want to share their knowledge.
- Reducing email overload: The goal with an ESN project isn’t to eliminate email, but to improve team communication by making all information more searchable. One way to do that is by moving some communications/conversations out of email and into a social enterprise platform that will help to unclog the inbox while not sacrificing findability of the information.
- Improved mobility for employees on the move: Today’s ESNs feature mobile apps, making it easy to send quick updates to your team from the road without drafting an email and figuring out which recipients to select. Instead, you could go to Yammer, select your team group and send a quick post. This allows you to update everyone at once, and any comments from recipients get added to the update, reducing redundancy.
Again, it’s helpful to think of ESN technology as improving on your existing communication tools and strategies, not completely replacing them. Microsoft is pursuing this idea by weaving ESN capabilities and communication groups through the Office 365 platform. This integrates a number of different applications and embeds conversations within document files themselves, adding meaningful context to everyday tasks and team workflows.
Learn more about today’s social enterprise and knowledge management solutions by contacting Portal Solutions.