The age of Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) is here. They are rapidly growing in popularity in the business world, and are fast becoming a necessity for progressive companies.
So why is this? Well, we can begin with the consumerization of IT. As individual end-users have become so used to using social media tools in their personal lives, so they now expect to be able to use them in the workplace too. The convenience and flexibility that social tools bring to interactions in daily life can translate well to the enterprise world – and deliver tangible benefits.
One reason for ESN’s popularity is the ’social network capabilities’ it brings to the workplace – users can post, share, tag, like, comment and so on, just like they do in their personal lives – and as such these capabilities are already understood by the majority of the workforce. Add enterprise communication and collaboration tools to the mix and we have the prospect of having all workers at ease with utilizing social collaboration tools and ESN in their everyday jobs – which would seem to make ESN a natural choice for the next generation of corporate collaboration solutions, and a centralized hub for all communication and collaboration activities.
With that in mind though, and with many companies today considering a shift to ESN platforms, how can organizations make the transition to ESN as smoothly and successfully as possible?
When planning for an effective ESN deployment, it can be a good idea to follow a simple three-step plan:
- Know what you want to achieve
Some companies jump into deploying ESN solutions without properly identifying their needs or desired outcomes. Before rushing headlong it is advisable to be clear on your requirements, what you can expect from ESN tools, what the main issues your ESN is intended to address and how to measure success. Starting in the right place with a robust plan and a clear, well-defined use case is a crucial step in your digital transformation along the road to ESN.
- Know how to present it
Just as with personal social media tools, enterprise ESN solutions are highly customizable and come in all shapes and types. So you need a clear vision of what you want your solution to look like before deploying, and also how you want it to be presented to users, both visually and functionally.
It is a question of making it an easy transition for employees. By presenting your ESN suite in a manner that addresses a certain business problem, and with clear business benefits, the tools are immediately attractive. This also outlines a clear user experience for employees, and one that they can adapt to without any learning period.
- Secure stakeholder buy-in
Which leads us onto stakeholder buy-in. Two main groups of stakeholders are needed to help you successfully transition to ESN.
Whether you are adopting ESN on a company-wide basis or just for one particular department, it is important to get managers involved. They need to be aware – and convinced - of the value and the benefits ESN brings to the business. As such it is important to explain to them the vison and objectives behind adopting ESN. By getting management buy-in at the beginning you can help keep ESN as a preferred management communication channel and also encourage managers to promote use of the solution among employees and teams.
There are two kinds of users, internal and external. If deploying in-house first however, it is your employees and teams you need to get on board with ESN. Because you want them to be involved, engaged and using the ESN on a regular basis – just like they do their personal social media tools.
One great way to ensure ESN platform adoption with users is via a community manager. This person can be responsible for leading activities aimed at promoting ESN use, and constantly maintaining the momentum. It is a key role that should be factored into the ESN strategy clearly from the beginning.
So you’re ready – what are the benefits?
Once you have established that your 3-step plan for successful ESN adoption, what benefits can you expect?
ESN helps your teams to exchange documents, and is aimed at replacing the numerous and multiple tools they use on a daily basis. Because project work means working with many mails with attachments, high levels of various documents, large files and multiple versions of documents too, there is so much to manage – not to mention that it can be hard to keep on top of latest versions.
Collaborating using ESN tools help your teams become 20 per cent more efficient, while employee productivity can increase by 21 per cent. Sales go up, customer satisfaction increases and employee turnover can be reduced by 65 per cent. The argument seems clear. Some studies even show that ESN will replace email in the near future - , and some companies are already considering an internal ‘no-email’ policy. It is fair to say that ESN is an idea whose time has come.
Getting ESN right first time however requires working with the right partner – one who can help you stay on top of things and choose and deploy the right set of ESN services for you.
To learn more about how Orange can help your business select the best ESN suite and use it to be more collaborative and productive, please visit: http://www.orange-business.com/en/magazine/boost-collaboration-with-enterprise-social-networks