Social Networking in Enterprise: Good or Evil?

Darina Borushko
Digital Content Manager
October 11, 2019

In addition to covering the basic communication needs of social beings, social networking platforms allow businesses to move towards better connectivity, collaboration, and productivity. That is why they are now on the rise in the modern enterprise workplace. 

Nevertheless, the beneficial potential of enterprise social networking (ESN) does not override its controversy. There are cases when an implemented ESN does not bring the expected advantages. Instead, it causes the rise of spontaneous, untrusted conversations that turn out to be frustrating and confusing in terms of employees’ productivity. No wonder, therefore, that some organizations see ESN more as evil but not as good.

So which is it? Is ESN is worthy of development and implementation? Let’s try to answer these questions by pointing out ESN benefits, pitfalls, characteristics, and possible ways of rectifying their weaknesses.     

Benefits Enterprise Social Networking Is Designed to Bring

Despite being sometimes criticized, each ESN solution is built with the idea of providing maximum utility. The most compelling benefits it is supposed to bring are:

Improved Internal Communication
ESN allows reconciling everything employees need for the minimum-effort yet efficient communication in one place. In this way, it efficiently eliminates the destructions derived from out-of-schedule activities. What is more, ESN offers the opportunity for admins to monitor inter-organizational conversations and define critical issues before they even appear. 

Modernity
While ESN still allows obtaining a competitive advantage on the market, it is rapidly becoming a new normal. Enterprises adopting this technology today have a chance not just to meet customer expectation, but often exceed them due to the increased efficiency of processes. 

Technical Support
In most cases, ESN solution comes with a remote team of knowledge-loaded professionals available for technical support issues 24/7. This allows enterprises to save on hiring additional people for support and let IT-department focus on other important issues.   

Stronger Connections
Implementation of an ESN can do miracles for the reputation and trustworthiness of a business. Offering the ability to be featured in multiple locations, it makes easier for enterprises to reach their targeted audience, build valuable partnership connections, attract investors, etc.

Cost-Effectiveness
Although ESN development often requires remarkable investments, it has the potential of opening plenty of possibilities that can significantly improve both internal and external operations. When used with the mind, ESN can literally pave the way for prosperity.

Enterprise Social Networking Pitfalls 

Just like any other solution, ESN also has some disadvantages. Let’s have a look at some of them,  pointed out by both employees and business owners.

  • Some organizations see an enterprise social network as a medium of communication, but not a tool for getting work done.
  • Also, business owners and managers note that ESN promotes spontaneous, untimely, distracted from the work conversations.
  • According to employees, the greatest concern of using ESN lies in the difficulty of finding information. ESN creates one more information channel and makes it tougher for employees to connect dots between messages, documents, people, etc.

Easy Steps to Address the Weaknesses

Even though disadvantages related to ESN are sufficiently serious and often make businesses refuce using such a system, they can quickly fade if organizations take some easy preventive steps. 

Step 1
Do not introduce ESN solution as a siloed system. It has to be an integrated tool that supports employees’ daily work. This will allow keeping all the vital information in one place, as well as it will help employees in finding documents, messages, people, etc.

Step 2
Make sure that employees will get early guidance on how to prioritize navigation between tools used within a company, so they will understand what ESN needs to be used for. 

Step 3
Guidance on the productivity of different tools is also a good idea. It will help employees to define the most workable cases for ESN. For example, they can learn that it is perfect for brainstorming sessions among geographically dispersed employees, or for receiving quick answers to burning questions.

As you can see, eliminating some of the possible ESN pitfalls is not a hard thing to do.  Nevertheless, there is one more thing to pay attention to: not all of ESN systems are created equal. So what makes a good ESN?  

ESN Crucial Features

Depending on needs of a business, ESN can be built with a multitude of different features. Nevertheless, there are some common features shared across almost all ESN systems. These are:

Social Dashboards
Organize information on contacts, files, discussions, and so on.

The ‘People’ Section
Allows seeing personal data, skills, group participation, and other information that was synchronized from social networks.

Content Creation
Options for page creation, sharing of spreadsheets, whatever a company needs.

Comments and Tagging Support
It provides the ability to follow, filter, and easily add tags and comments.

Integrations
Integrations with systems already used within the company, such as CRM, HRM, ERP, etc. As well as integrations with third-party systems such as Salesforce.com or Sharepoint.

Mobile-Friendliness
Allows accessing crucial business information and participating in working processes from anywhere, anytime.

All the above mention features are often complimented with some custom ones, that are defined and added under the individual needs of each business. These could be talent mentoring, idea voting, analytics, whatever. The truth is that quite often, the implementation of custom features requires significant money investments. Nevertheless, having a tailored to your business ESN system means owning a powerful tool for growth and profitability. And such a system is more likely to save money than to waste it.

The Bottom Line

ESN system can work miracles for a business, significantly enhancing its performance by improving communication and simplifying routine processes. Nevertheless, not all systems are equal. That is why businesses need to put their minds to functionality, as well as offer proper guidance to employees on how to get the most out of this powerful tool. 

At Elinext, we create custom solutions that are tailored precisely to the needs of each client, and ESN systems are no exception. Whether you have a question about functionality, design, performance, etc. of your future or existing enterprise social network, feel free to contact us. We are always happy to make technologies work for our clients’ success.

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