While the vast majority of businesspeople are familiar with public social networks like Facebook and Twitter, enterprise social networks are the lesser-known brother of their public network counterpart. An enterprise social network is defined as an internal, private social network used to assist in communications within a business. The goal of an enterprise social network is help employees stay organized, informed, and in sync with what is happening around them in their organization.
An enterprise social network is not Facebook that you can use while at work. It’s not a toy for you to share your work lunch pics with your co-workers. It’s a social collaboration tool. It’s a platform that is designed to increase the flow of information within the company, which in turn will lead to increased productivity within the organization.
Salesforce.com claims they have the world’s #1 enterprise social network. Their product called Chatter is available for free with the purchase of 1 CRM license or $15 per user per month. Chatter is a full-featured ESN, which allows companies to harvest the power of their employees to connect through a secure social network. It is a place designed to host some of that information that you keep stored in awkward long email threads or scattered through out various word documents. It is a place to share all sorts of files through business grade collaborative platform.
Employees can create profiles to get to know their colleagues better and share important information. Through groups, which are public to the entire company or just a few employees, large files can be shared, group instant messages can be sent and project updates can be posted. Like Twitter and Facebook, Chatter users even have a ‘Chatter Feed’, which shows updates on relevant company projects and allows users to comment and add recommendations.
Chatter allows employees to create polls to get social feedback from their colleagues on any topic. Media like images and videos can be posted to the chatter feed. Topics pages can be created to give answers to questions frequently asked by employees. Overall ESNs have many features geared towards allowing for better collaboration.
In reviews of Chatter, the main issue was that ESNs are most effective when there is widespread adoption and that it can be a challenge to convert employees to be active users. However, there are many positives. Dan W who reviewed the platform on g2crowd.com, a business software review site, said that Chatter “allows for socializing in a brand new way around business processes” and contained by saying “the integration with e-mail is especially useful and the file sharing capabilities that come along with it are also quite robust and effective.”
There a number of ESNs out there, but Chatter has some of the most comprehensive features and has the advantage of being fully supported by and integrated with all of Salesforce’s business services. Chatter and other ESNs may greatly benefit businesses that can convince their employees to adopt and effectively use the platform.
With a clear potential to increase productivity and communication within an organization, there has already been a growing adoption rate for the new service. Frost and Sullivan, in its Analysis of the Global Enterprise Social Networking Market, found that the number of full-suite enterprise social networking subscribers reached 208 million last year, an increase of nearly 30 percent from the previous year. The firm expects that number to hit 535 million by 2018, with most of the growth occurring in the next two years. The only question is, will your organization be part of this growing trend workplace collaboration?