Social Media in the Enterprise Part II

Bill Miller : Enterprise 2025
Bill Miller
Currently providing consulting services. Was most recently VP of Operations at FreedomVoice, cloud-based PBX. Over 25 years of voice, data and security networking experience. In recent years, he has been a staple presenting and on panels at IT Expo, Digium Asterisk World, & Astricon.

Social Media in the Enterprise Part II

Part II of this three-part series is intended to discuss the internally focused social media perspectives and tools. Depending on who you talk to, social media is old (long time consumer driven Twitter or Facebook user) or new (enterprise driven Sharepoint or IBM) for those enterprises who have an IT staff who have committed to social business software and building internal communities. Gartner Group has done a magic quadrant report on this market and can be downloaded here from Jive's web site. You know social media for business is mainstream when you see the leading players are Microsoft and IBM and the relative newcomer Jive; the challengers include two newcomers Open Text and Atlassian; the visionaries include names such as Google, Drupal, Telligent; and the niche players include over 20 players with specialized tools. This world is taking shape! If you did not know it previously it's time to get on board the mainstream social media for business bandwagon sooner rather than later!.

The driving force for social media in the enterprise: productivity! Collaboration leads to increased and effective productivity. Finding subject matter experts, department heads, all sorts of information using internal search tools and easily schedule and execute conferences all behind the firewall in a secure and manageable fashion. The use of these tools include ability to publish internal reference materials by subject matter experts, connect and collaborate with those individuals, search and find them easily anywhere in the world, create podcasts, discussion groups, workflows, profiles and on and on. These tools eliminate wasting time and maximize resources and productivity for the enterprise. It is why "Collaboration" has become the new hot term for new software. The lines between consumer social networking and business collaboration software are blurring but require structure and policy to implement effectively.

Internally the requirements are split into new ways to manage projects, information, collaboration, and even internal "reference"  books and contact info. In the past, larger companies published costly internal specialty books such as who knew the accounting system, who knew the email system, who knew this programming language, etc. IBM's Lotus Connections is built on these previous experiences. Today this has become a simple Wiki or data base available on the intranet but with incredibly powerful capabilities such as video conferencing, audio conferencing, and presence. Even Unified Communications suppliers have started to implement social media software into their software. Siemens and Avaya come to mind and use as demos at tradeshows. Maybe we will start seeing case studies soon with clear cut ROI.

As CIO or IT Director whichever it is in your enterprise, consideration needs to be given to internal productivity tools vs. consumer oriented social media which today includes: Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, LinkedIN and anything that is personal in nature. The issues raised by many CIOs include managing what information gets posted, interleaving family and friends with business especially during business hours and being able to manage this for the entire enterprise.

In a recent survey by Robert Half released in April, where 1400 CIOs were interviewed, that 23% are implementing tighter personal restrictions on social media with respect to personal use, 14% tighter restrictions with respect to business use,  while 10% were more lenient with respect to business use and 7% more lenient with respect to personal use. 2% had no answer. What does this tell me? It's like taking a shower in a new hotel - you play with the hot and cold water until you get the right mix.  This is where we are today.

Companies need to create, implement and refine their social media policy.
In the policy, items of a critical nature include:

  • Information disclosure
  • Compliance
  • Governance
  • Monitoring Policies
  • Audit
  • Privacy
  • Controls
  • Regulatory
  • Blocking policies
There are many more but each company in each vertical will be different. For example, health care companies have definitive compliance policies that must be adhered to and must be considered. Perhaps a general computer with social media access will be available in the cafeteria or break rooms which can be used but all desktops will be restricted.  This situation will evolve over time as managers and executives learn and tools get better. It's like security and passwords. People who use laptops and travel who don't use strong passwords are exposed and expose their company data. Social media has similar ramifications. Proper implementation will help with overall employee satisfaction and recruiting as well as a platform that is able to mix communications among baby boomers, Gen X'ers and Gen Y'ers.

In part III of this series we will discuss external social media for business. We will look at some industry analyst data, customer service and support, integrated marketing and lead generation, and user communities. Although some companies offer products for both internal communities and external communications you will find many are different. Many companies are integrated marketing companies and companies that specialize in customer service. Tracking Internet based conversations about brand and with these monitoring tools generate leads, offer top notch customer service, and build and protect their brands.  

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