While the benefits of enterprise social networking are often broadcasted by industry professionals (myself included), before signing your organization up for the next social platform, it’s important to look at the business objectives first.
Enterprise social initiatives that have a clear and compelling purpose from the beginning tend to succeed. These should naturally motivate employees to use the network and see the value of participating. Employees should know what specific problems it will solve, what employees gain themselves, and what overall value it will provide their organization.
But, simply asking “What business problems are we trying to solve?” is a big question to start with. Let’s break it down further. The following questions will get you thinking about ways enterprise social networking can address some of your top business concerns.
o How can you speed up the employee onboarding process?
Organizations large and small struggle to help employees locate the information they need. Files are locked in file systems, emails are kept separate, and managers don’t have time to train employees on where everything is or how things work. Onboarding can take weeks to months. A robust enterprise social network combines systems and content with a knowledge-sharing community, so employees can view a history of information and conversations—and learn much more than from a first-day training session.
o Is it easy for employees to locate expertise within your organization?
Sometimes intranets and directories aren’t enough. Employees need to know who knows what within your organization. A new sales rep, for example, might need to find someone who has experience with a specific type of customer request. By searching conversations or simply posting a question to an enterprise social network, the sales rep can immediately discover and involve the right experts to potentially close the deal faster. Sometimes the best knowledge transfer happens simply by connecting employees to the right people.
o Does your organization have a process for increasing innovation?
Sure employees generate ideas in meetings or even standing around the water cooler, but having a central place for employees to submit ideas is far more productive. The social element allows employees to critique, provide suggestions, and start involving the right players to make the ideas go to market faster.
o How does your organization share knowledge, market insights, industry news, competitive intelligence and even customer feedback?
Via email? Hopefully not. Organizations need a way to leverage the knowledge of their employees company-wide without disrupting their day-to-day activities. Businesses use internal networks to share feedback on what customers are saying and the latest updates on what competitors are doing, ultimately enhancing their products and services. Enterprise social networking brings the latest information in, so employees can act on it and make more insightful decisions.
o What projects do you need to deliver?
When it comes to delivering a project involving multiple people and teams, it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page and collaborating in real-time beyond regular status reports. A Casino Resort company, for example, needed to roll out their new loyalty program to multiple hotels and casinos, involving many hotel managers and IT managers. Employees could view all communication on the project from one place within the network—reducing excess emails. Social platforms streamline the focus of the project with everyone onboard, and no one is left out on important messages.
o How does your organization handle exceptions, escalations, even crisis management?
When exceptions happen, organizations need to escalate the issue and communicate with all of the right stakeholders to make the appropriate decisions. This can be for issues as small as a delay in a client’s shipment to much larger crises. The World Economic Forum, for example, uses enterprise social networking to discuss world issues with global leaders. If a Tsunami hits the coast of Japan, for instance, the Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe can post a video of himself asking for assistance. Minutes later, they can start collaborating on the most appropriate and quickest ways to provide the best support. Not all issues can be resolved with hard numbers and data. Social collaboration plays a big part in creating the best outcomes.