While the answer may seem pretty obvious for most of you, to really understand the issue we need to know what lays behind the technological platform that we often think about when we talk about an Enterprise Social Network (ESN). Today all of the ESN solutions that exist are pretty mature and offer very similar features like enabling people to share content, find experts, crowdsource, earn rewards, chat, just to name a few.
Start with the "Why" Exercise
Before decision makers focus on which solution to pick they have to “start with why” – why should my company have an Enterprise Social Network in the first place? Believe me, we've heard managers tell us "Because it's hip" and "Everyone else has it." Realistically, there's only one good reason: people. The main purpose of an ESN to make work better for your employees; helping them find more relevant information faster and easier so they make smarter decisions quicker.
If you look at your own situation, I think you'll agree with me that just like everyone else, you want to achieve things, get things done. And it's even better when technology helps you with that instead of making it harder. That's why organizations have to ask themselves what is the best way to encourage their employees to engage in smarter collaboration, create a collective intelligence, and make it easier for them to adapt company changes. The question is whether these aspects are considered enough when deciding whether or not to build an ESN.
People First, Solutions Later
Past experiences have shown that decision makers primarily analyze the features provided by the different platforms, pinpointing the user experience theoretical concerns, investigating the possibilities to make functional changes, making sure it can interact with the numerous systems that already exist in their architecture. Of course these questions as well as the security topic are extremely important and should not be overlooked but they must not form part of the foundation for deploying a social network. The well-being of your employees should be.
Value Employees to Encourage Engagement
It is only when employees are put in the spotlight that they really feel recognized and valued, and this will in return result in more engagement with their work, their colleagues, and the company. That is when the enterprise social network will make sense to your employees and it will become the main channel through which your employees will express their commitment and show their motivation. When such a policy is put forward in any company, resistance to change will fade away as though it had never existed and this is a major key to success for any company: adapt and change as fast as the market does. The ESN will only provide the technology and support to make this social policy tangible, to make things go fast, and break geographic barriers for people in the field, at home, or in a coffee shop behind a screen or on a mobile device. So the question of the necessity for an enterprise social network needs to be addressed only after the big picture about the social environment and culture has been drawn by the managing executives.
Small Things Make a Big Difference
In my company, we use the hashtag #WOL (working out loud) to share success stories, concerns, and let colleagues know what we're working on. What would be the small thing you would like to do to see this change happening at your organization?