Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Need for an Enterprise Social Platform


I’ve had a twitter account for more than a year now. In that short amount of time, I’ve had conversations with people who are working on some pretty cool things. These usually trigger some wild ideas. If I need to know more about something, there is usually a person to follow who keeps me updated.

Below is a picture of my social computing universe, or at least that is what I’m calling it.


Site Type What It’s Used For How I Use It
micro-blog To communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? Let people know what I’m up to, as well as find out what other people are up to, or what interesting things they have found
facebook social networking service Helps you connect and share with the people in your life. To stay in touch with family, friends
linkedin social networking service Serious professional business network To research job candidates, communicate with outside people in a business context
blogger blog publishing Share your thoughts, photos, and more with your friends and the world. I use it for writing posts like this.
flickr photo content sharing Share your photos and watch the world Put up photos I want to share with people, and look at other people’s content
delicious social bookmarking Save your bookmarks and see what others are saving To bookmark blog posts or other interesting websites
bloglines rss feed reader Track your favorite news, blogs, weather, and classifieds so that you don't have to To subscribe to rss feeds
gmail mail provider A new kind of web-based email email
msn messenger instant messaging makes it easier than ever to stay connected to the people you care about instant messaging and online presence
friendfeed content aggregator helps you discover and discuss interesting stuff that your friends and family find on the web Aggregate most of my content to a single feed and setup rooms to monitor friends, trends and other interesting things.


The Enterprise Today

Now, think about the company you work for…How do you meet people? How do you find out about new projects? How do you get your ideas heard? If your company is like mine, you rely on email, networking, attending meetings and hallway conversations. Even using these limited tools you still may not; meet the right people, find out what is really going on, or get your great ideas to the right person. There are always barriers to break down or silos to bridge.

We’ve always heard the same chant, “Breaking Down Silos”. In fact Google Suggest offers 459,000 search results on that phrase alone. We hear it everywhere. Why? Because it’s a common problem.

What’s the solution? Create an Internal Social Networking Platform.

Use Social Networking, Open Conversations and Transparency to blow up the limited communication paths that have been entrenched in corporate life. Bridge the silos between the cube dwellers and the front line staff, cross the chasm of Marketing and Operations.

I’ve known people who have worked in the same building for years and have never met or conversed once. This isn’t necessarily their fault, throughout the day, you don’t  get much of an opportunity to get up and out of your area to meet other people.

Social Computing makes this possible, there is a common meeting place where ideas, thoughts, problems and aspirations both mundane and strategic can be shared.  Where we can hear from our co-workers, leaders and teammates and open up the opaque world of traditional meetings to transparent conversations. And best of all the meeting place is right in front of you, on your computer or phone. The method of entry is just a click away.

There is a problem with this however. The  mainstream social networking tools; Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn etc, are all public. If I wanted to share something about what I’m working on within my company, whether it be an idea, a problem or a frustration, I really don’t want to share it with people outside the company. What is needed is an internal Social Computing Platform.

Components of a Enterprise Social Platform

I’ve drawn up what I think are the basic components of an Enterprise Social Platform. Some of these are more traditional, such as Email and an Intranet. The rest are more Enterprisey 2.0 components.


Next Time

In my next post, I’ll talk about what some candidate implementations for each of these components.