Beyond the hype: business-centric social networking


Businesses have not ignored the potential transformational effects of social networking technologies like Twitter and Facebook on their own processes, knowledge management and communication systems.  Today, many large IT providers like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and Salesforce.com are attempting to capitalize on this interest by developing new enterprise-level social networking products.   These “social platforms” promise breakthrough advances in employee collaboration, knowledge transfer and communications.  As a result, the global market for social platforms is expected to jump from $630 million in 2011 to $1.86 billion by 2014 (source:  IDC).

Potential value

According to the gurus, business-centric social networking will not be dissimilar to what millions of people do everyday with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  That is, find new ways of sharing different kinds of information;  break down departmental silos; foster new communities and; enable the emergence of new forms of customer service and team collaboration.  The business impact will be transformational if companies can get the technology, use case and business processes right.  Although social platform adoption is in its infancy, a number of global companies are already blazing a trail:

Dell

Dell is looking to social networking to enhance collaboration and streamline operations.  They have rolled out Chatter, a new Salesforce.com product, across the organization touching all 113,000 of its employees. Chatter allows Dell employees to share profiles, comment on projects and “follow” colleagues as well as important business processes such as invoicing and sales pitches. The Company found that Chatter was effective in improving the connection between its sales team and manufacturing, which helped the firm better meet its customer delivery promises as well as manage overall expectations.

Cisco

Cisco is leveraging social networking to “flatten the organization” in order to improve productivity and accelerate projects. In this model, Cisco is using their proprietary social networks to rapidly form and deploy product & project management teams. Based on internal successes, Cisco has turned this unique social networking tool into a new product called Quad.  This enterprise-level social network solution integrates with business and Internet content management systems and includes Facebook-style status updates and instant messaging.

Current challenges

Widespread corporate adoption of social networking faces a number of significant behavioral and management challenges.  For example, the uneven market experience of existing collaboration and knowledge management systems suggest that achieving ubiquitous, responsible and consistent employee usage will be a challenge.  Furthermore, having social networking on all the time can divert employee attention, reducing overall productivity. Finally, as has been demonstrated with Twitter and Facebook, there is a tendency for some people to over communicate and generate excessive information, creating data paralysis and process slowdowns.

Today, creating effective social networking applications for the enterprise space is still a work in progress. Conceptually, there should be a lot of value added to the organization but the benefits will be different for each process, worker and department. Before business-centric social networking really takes off, there needs to be some proof that these technologies and approaches deliver real process and customer value with minimal risk.

For more information on our services and work, please visit the Quanta Consulting Inc. web site.

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3 comments so far

  1. Prience Shrestha on

    Well,nice to point out the compatability of the Social-networking in field of business process development. The concept of business-centric social networking site can add communication value in the company but still is a risky stuff to do. Afterall, the degree of revolution in an innovation is proportional to risk.

    Beisdes for social-networking sites, the way the open-source softwares like LINUX is creating the ground for communication among millions of application and software updaters and modifiers in their corresponding BLOGS is quite awesome in terms of communication in business process.

  2. […] how it supports key corporate priorities like new business acquisition, customer satisfaction and project execution.  Secondly, the CEO must ensure that all functional groups and business units are aligned to this […]

  3. […] how it supports key corporate priorities like new business acquisition, customer satisfaction and project execution.  Secondly, the CEO must ensure that all functional groups and business units are aligned to this […]


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