by Rebecca Merrett

Harnessing enterprise social networks

Mar 27, 20123 mins
Collaboration SoftwareSmall and Medium Business

Enterprise social networks (ESN) can improve collaboration, innovation and information sharing within organisations. It can hasten communication and work processes and break down siloed departments.

With Yammer on Tour currently in Australia, Yammer chief customer officer, David Obrand, sat down with CIO Australia to talk about the value of enterprise social networks and how CIOs and organisations can harness its power.

Although there are many ways ESN can bring value to an organisation, one of the most important values, according to Obrand, is the way it can influence an organisation’s culture.

“It’s so rare that you see enterprise technology that users naturally gravitate to by their own, but when they do there’s incredible indirect value that you can get and a lot of it is correlated to the culture of the company,” Obrand says.

“The better the culture, the more people stay. That reduces costs of having to recruit and train new people.”

Obrand uses an example of a first year employee who debated with the CEO over a policy that was publicly posted by the CEO in the organisation’s network, which the CEO found to a helpful way of receiving feedback from an employee who may not have felt comfortable in a more traditional setting.

“I think that has a huge impact on the culture of the company because you as a first year employee feel like you have a voice. Not only do you have a voice, but that voice is being heard. And if everybody feels that way, they are going to feel much more comfortable to share their input which drives the engagement.

“Every statistic you see from Gallup or Forrester or IDC says a majority or employees in companies are disengaged and a lot of the reason they are disengaged is because they are tethered to these siloed applications that don’t give them a voice. When you have a voice, you then feel engaged, and the more engaged you are the more value the company gets out of you as an employee, and the more value you get out of that experience.”

Obrand says that for organisations to get the most out of ESN, engagement needs to come from not only rank and file employees but also the executives to help facilitate the engagement.

“It’s really important you have your executives engage them in the network,” he says.

“You [also] really want to align it to business processes,” he adds.

“Really, at the end of the day, enterprise social [networks are] so unlike traditional software because you can’t force adoption. It’s not a compliance tool, and so it has to be something that users can naturally gravitate to.”

Obrand says CIOs need to consider their organisation’s readiness when adopting ESN.

“You definitely want to be thoughtful about organisational readiness. The one thing about enterprise social [networks] is that they drive behavioural change in an organisation, they drive positive behavioural change but it’s something that as an executive team you would want to be mindful of to be able to help shape and shift as it evolves,” he said.

Follow Rebecca Merrett on Twitter: @Rebecca_Merrett

Follow CIO Australia on Twitter: @CIO_Australia