Social media software in the enterprise is much talked about at the moment, and many executives are taking steps to implement it within their organisation. As the head of an enterprise social software company, I obviously see this as a significant and beneficial trend.
However, I think it's important that companies are installing enterprise social technology for the right reasons, not just because they are jumping on the bandwagon.
You may have encountered this in your company: with the topic so often in the news, executives feel pressure from their boards to prove that they have an "enterprise social strategy". There is also pressure from employees to adopt such software, since it so closely resembles the programs they are using in their free time.
I see first-hand, every day, the tremendous value of social enterprise software, so I have no doubt that a company deploying a system will ultimately put it to great use. But that may take longer than necessary if the company doesn't have a clear idea at the outset what they are going to do with the software once it's up and running.
The sure-fire, no-lose answer: aim it at your customers.
With enterprise social software, you are connecting employees not just for the sake of making connections, but to create a better-functioning company; specifically, a company that can drive sales by creating better experiences for customers. Everything that occurs in a social enterprise framework, such as giving your employees a sense of shared purpose and experience, should have as its end point a better customer experience.
Enterprise social software is for the scores of CEOs now asking themselves how they can get their organisations closer to their customers - precisely the question that consultants at IBM have identified as the No. 1 concern for chief executives.
When you aim internal collaboration at your customers, everything falls into place. Sure, there are profiles and updates in an enterprise social technology, just like on Facebook, and people form together into groups. But they don't do so out of idle curiosity or simple gregariousness. Instead, it's to get the entire team aligned around the goal of generating shareholder value by creating great customer experiences - with great products, great sales and great service.
Let me outline a scenario every enterprise goes through. When a customer contacts an enterprise, they are looking for the right answer to a specific question. Today's enterprises struggle to provide the right answer quickly - it can be a complicated, manual process that's made harder when facing operations are geographically and figuratively disconnected from the enterprise.
An integrated enterprise social collaboration suite makes it easy to find or crowd-source the correct answer and then provide it to the customer. The collaboration platform can help companies quickly identify and segment standard issues and flag the more serious problems that have the potential to impact a company's bottom line, engaging expert resources to resolve them quickly. This way, knowledge workers can easily share relevant information with each other, and most importantly provide right answers to customers.
Employee morale can also be viewed through the prism of improved customer service. When employees feel good about their company, they are more likely to proactively suggest ideas that will help solve customer problems.
When you deploy enterprise social technology, you are creating more connectivity in the workplace. And that is always for the better, because it makes even the biggest company small again. You make possible a happier employee base. That, in turn, creates a better product than a disengaged employee base ever could. That leads to better customer experiences, more customers and ever-growing shareholder value.
Do you need any more reasons than that?