The Way of the Future: Enterprise Social Collaboration / Learning Networks
I am fond of reading the HR predictions that come at the end of each year regarding the following year. I recently ran across a set of predictions that suggested 2014 would be all about technology. Included in the list of predictions was a rapid increase in the adoption of private enterprise social networks by companies. This is a pretty safe prediction. Deloitte predicted over 90% of Fortune 500 companies will have partially or fully implemented an enterprise social network by the end of 2013.
An enterprise social network (ESN) is an internal private social network that streamlines communication and collaboration among workers. I have written in a previous blog about the benefits of improved collaboration in an organization. These benefits include such advantages as:
- Knowledge sharing
- Problem solving
- Efficient onboarding
- Better connection with remote employees
However, these predictions rarely cover an important fact about the early adoption of new technologies. Gartner predicts that 80 percent of early ESN implementations will fail. Some common reasons for such a high failure rate include:
Insufficient implementation planning.
Too many companies assume that adoption of private social networks will be organic. A private social network can markedly change how people approach their work and they need to be educated on how to use the tool for advantage.
Trying to do too much too soon.
There are a number of potential advantages of using a private social network. Some advantages are more pervasive or difficult to realize than others. It is better to initially focus on “low hanging fruit” such as improved collaboration among teams working on high value initiatives/projects or better collaboration among individuals involved in strategic accounts.
Being blind to user input.
Employees are in the best position to determine how they would like to use a private network or additional features they would like to see implemented. It is important to listen and act on user input to ensure higher adoption rates.
Lack of executive support.
Employees are much more likely to take advantage of a private social network when they see senior executives being active on the network, sharing information and responding to the inputs of others.
How to Best Ensure Success of A Private Social Network
In my opinion, the most important way to ensure the success of a private social network is to expand the focus beyond better collaboration and focus on specific use cases. I have written in a previous blog about the potential power of using social networks for personal development. The inclusion of a social learning component and a developmental use case focus within a private social network could conceivably touch every individual within an organization in a very positive and engaging manner. Such a component would include features such as:
- Informal and formal developmental need assessments
- Real time feedback/comments/ratings on published development goals
- Discussion threads and Wikis relevant to key skill sets for the organization
- Access to rich online development resources
- Administrative features to track participation and developmental progress
- Gamification features to encourage participation and reward progress
We at OMNIview are very excited about delivering a social network solution that combines both collaboration and learning components. Such an offering coupled with strategic implementation planning, executive support, and attention to user inputs could have a major impact on organizational productivity and individual satisfaction.