Is your Social Platform adding any incremental value to your collaboration initiative?

October 15th, 2014Social Business

To understand how this concept plays in light of enterprise social, let’s take a step back in time. We know that the concept of enterprise social collaboration had been around for quite some time now. But it was in 2010-11, when some startling predictions were made by a lot of analysts and consulting firms alike which set the stage for a rapid growth in this technology. The expectations of what social technologies meant in the collaboration space at that time can be seen from some of these predictions, whether it is replacement of email as a communication channel, huge potential of social technologies in the economy, or rapid adoption.

Fast forward to 2014 and we see that email usage may not have diminished for a lot of companies and that social business may not actually have any impact on email overload, there are a very few number of organizations tracking ROI of social business to quantify the actual dollar benefits, and more importantly, adoption of social business software has been slow.

Out of the three trends above, the most puzzling and the most alarming issue for the same businesses wanting to adopt social is the problem of slow adoption.

In fact, enterprise social collaboration has not seen as rapid an adoption as some of the other technologies that started out around the same time; e.g. Cloud computing, Mobility.

But the value to be derived from social business is a no-brainer:

We have seen plenty of examples where organizations have forged tremendous success stories as a direct result of social collaboration within the enterprise. Whether it is a financial services company realizing huge cost savings through enhanced collaboration and engagement, or a pharmaceutical company reducing costs and time-to-market, improving operations and regulatory compliance, and increasing productivity by 40%; these organizations were early to arrive in the social collaboration game and rapid adoption helped them get the most out of their social business investment dollars.

But in spite of so many success stories out there, the question still remains:

Why is the successful adoption of public social networks not being replicated in a lot of enterprises?

After all, the employees in these organizations are the same set of people highly active on public social networks. So shouldn’t adoption be a given?

In an attempt to understand this paradox and what could lead to low adoption, it might be worthwhile to view this from an employee’s perspective:

Employees should not have to GO to a place to use social features

Clearly, if using social features requires an effort on the part of the employee, the adoption may not be as quick. Instead, social computing needs to be embedded in their day-to-day tasks. This shift can be observed by Gartner in their publication “Critical Capabilities for Social Software in the Workplace which suggests that “The market is transitioning from emphasizing a stand-alone destination social software site to one that also values the integration of social capabilities within the flow of work processes and projects.” At Unisys, Nick Evans wrote about this integration of social computing into enterprise business processes in “The Power of Social Automation” back in 2013.

It is also evident in the way vendors are adapting their products. Many solution vendors today allow developers to customize applications using open APIs. And then there are several different ways to integrate with the social platform; either relevant discussions from the social platform can be delivered into an existing business application, or the other way around where real-time activity updates can be pushed from a business application into the social platform’s newsfeed.

Integrating social with different enterprise applications like SharePoint 2010 among many others can help create a truly social experience for employees. Some of the contenders for embedding social experience are content management, storage, expense reporting, pipeline tracking, procurement, CRM etc.

Employees need incremental benefit over the corporate intranet

The social platform/layer should offer employees some incremental benefit over the existing collaboration platform; in most cases – their corporate Intranets. Though your enterprise social network is just a powerful extension of collaboration technologies like Intranets, and in many ways the boundaries of ESN begin where limitations of Intranets start to creep in; as far as effective collaboration is concerned.  With its capabilities, Enterprise Social Network brings in a totally new approach to collaboration as seen from the table below:

Feature Intranet 2.0 capability ESN capability
Document Repository Static Dynamic
Key driver for sustaining Content Collaboration
Key search capability Documents/Reports People
Value proposition over predecessor Ability to create workflows Increased number of connections
Contributors Limited as determined by admin Free for all
Efficiency improvement Turn-around-time reduced due to email Turn-around-time  reduced due to less time to search
Investment and Implementation Intensive Flexible – Low to High depending on co.


The list can go on… but the point is that the above table clearly shows that if organizations don’t harness the capabilities on the rightmost column, employees would see no value in adopting the social platform and keep using the Intranet instead, leaving the organizations ultimately with a solution having no incremental benefit over their existing Intranet and their overall collaboration initiative.

At Unisys we offer holistic and integrated end-to-end services tailored to suit the existing implementation and the skills and resources you have internally. We have a dedicated team of industry-leading experts one of “Top Ten Social Business Leaders of 2013”. These experts can help diagnose your social business transformation plans to identify and address key risks for not only a successful deployment, but also an organization-wide adoption.

Tags-   Collaboration Employee Network Unified Social Business