Rethinking enterprise social networks

Rethinking enterprise social networks
Dec 31, 2013
Alan Pelz-Sharpe, Matt Mullen
KM World issue January 2014, [Vol 23, Issue 1]


By applying social networking technology to a process, rather than considering social purely as a publishing channel, it can become a place where a process is recorded, discussed and ultimately executed. The result is continued business engagement and continued employee collaboration centered on a shared working activity.

As the trend toward using social as a layer rather than a channel builds, we expect to see more interest in agnostic platforms, such as those provided by Citrix, Jive, VMware and TIBCO, as well as pressure on relatively closed platforms like Oracle, SAP and Salesforce to open up further.

The overriding lesson that has been learned from the first decade of “social business” is that it must find a true purpose or process to support in order to succeed as a part of any enterprise stack. Simply parachuting social into an organization and expecting it to possess transformational qualities is a quick way to create a valueless and barely used silo of information. Where the value of social platforms lies is in deploying social tools to glue together existing processes, to help deliver a shared business goal as part of a defined workflow, or to help socialize processes to a wider community within an organization

Knowledge management theory and history has a potentially pivotal role to play in the future “socialization” of business—lessons that were theoretically learned a decade or more ago appear as new news to this generation of social entrepreneurs. That is a shame, because the technology they have to share with us today makes the KM products of the late 90s look primitive, but people are people and don’t change at the pace technologists and futurists like to believe. Arguably they don’t fundamentally change at all. The technology should be there to augment human activities, not impose unwanted working cultures. Social networking technologies are learning that lesson, but there is still a long way to go.



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