by Sudhir Narasimhan

Leverage Social Technologies for Enterprise Collaboration

Feb 22, 20154 mins

Itu2019s time enterprises moved past traditional collaboration tools and deployed social technologies.u00a0

While most CIOs and Knowledge managers talk big about collaboration, it’s in fact one of the most ignored functions within enterprises today.

Is Email getting counterproductive? Throw this question at any employee of a large organization and the answer is most likely to be in the affirmative.

Email could be a major challenge depending on the size of the organization you work for.  In a large organization with thousands of employees, you tend to get inundated with internal spam on a daily basis as overzealous Internal communication organizations–HR, Finance, IT, Legal and Compliance wings–will flood your inbox with dozens of notifications.  It’s hard to sift through this deluge of information before you get to read and respond to mail from your co-workers and customers relating to your day-to-day work.

In other words, an application that was originally meant to enhance collaboration is eating into your time, negatively impacting productivity.  A recent report from McKinsey estimates that employees on an average spend a third of their work hours sorting, reading and replying to emails.

Also read: How Enterprise Social Networks Can Address Collaboration Inefficiencies

While most CIOs and Knowledge managers talk big about collaboration, it’s in fact one of the most ignored functions within enterprises today. It’s time they realized that traditional collaboration tools like Email and SharePoint sites have serious limitations in large, multi-locational organizations where disparate and geographically separated groups have to work together.

And the solution for effective collaboration exists right there in the world outside. People today are increasingly connecting and collaborating in real time on social media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp have transformed the way people communicate and collaborate.  While many enterprises are still stuck with legacy, a few organizations are realizing the benefits of moving on from traditional collaboration tools.

Atos Origin, a French system integrator took the lead in moving away from email a few years ago. The company‘s management banned internal email after realizing it was a mode of communication that had far outlived its useful existence. While this move attracted widespread criticism from both corporate and media circles, Atos managed to ensure its 80,000 employees shunned email, but continued to collaborate effectively through other tools.

I was privy to an experiment to build an internal social network in a large organization employing hundreds of thousands of people in more than forty countries. This was a place where employees had to endure massive internal spamming on email.  Internal service organizations had to struggle to locate potential client units within the organization whose operations were spread across the globe. While various units in the company shared data on SharePoint sites, searching and locating potential customers was a tedious and time-consuming process.

 The internal social network they launched replicated Facebook.  Every employee had a page that resembled a Facebook page where she could go and share updates on her project.  People could follow one another and managers could easily locate various groups; identify potential projects and pitch for them. Notifications from Internal Communications and other departments continued to come, but they stayed in the background, the way Facebook notifications do. While this company did not do away with internal e-mail like Atos did, it got its employees hooked on to the internal social network.

Today when most enterprises talk of social media it’s mostly in the context of analyzing unstructured data that resides in mainstream social media platforms and extracting actionable customer insights from it. While this is important, enterprises would do well to leverage social technologies to build internal platforms for effective collaboration.

Sudhir Narasimhan is Consulting Editor with IDG Media India. He can be reached at