What Is An Enterprise Social Network
An Enterprise Social Network (ESN) is a software platform which allows users to quickly and easily locate, tag, connect and share with other users. ESNs are similar to consumer facing websites like Facebook or Google+ but provide features which are specifically tailed to user inside an organizational setting. Enterprise Social Networks provide a foundational "social fabric" which connects the users within an organization to each other and supports knowledge transfer, information discovery, collaboration and innovation within the enterprise.
An Enterprise Social Network is the backbone of an Enterprise 2.0 program. The Association for Information and Image Management defines Enterprise 2.0 as follows:
AIIM defines Enterprise 2.0 as a system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise.
Some common features of an Enterprise Social Network include:
- User-controlled Profiles - an ESN will allow users to describe themselves, and edit their own user profile to include interests, skills, background, education, and other information. An ESN may optionally integrate with Human Resources Management (HRM) systems or Learning Management Systems (LMS / e-Learning) to automatically include certain information about the user.
- Social Graph - an ESN allows users to connect with or "friend" / "follow" other system users. The connections define whose information will appear in the user's news-feed and may be factored into search algorithms, used for group-messaging, and/or used to facilitate "expertise locator" functions, or to influence the ranking of items which have been tagged or voted on
- Tagging - an ESN will support free-form tagging ("folksonomy") of items, ranging from status updates, to business events, to documents, to other people in the organization. These tags are used to enhance later retrieval of important knowledge and support a "rapid recall" capability.
- Voting - Enterprise Social Network products also allow users to "vote" on items, indicating their agreement with, endorsement of, or support for certain positions. These votes allow the enterprise to "crowd source" the rating of ideas, and are a valuable way of tapping into "collective intelligence" in the enterprise.
- Newsfeed / Activity Stream - ESNs will provide a stream oriented interface where events, status updates, questions, and other relevant items will flow for the user's review. Advanced ESN products will support sorting and filtering within the newsfeed / stream using various sorting criteria (age, votes, relevance, etc.) and will give the user tight control over what appears in their feed, creating - in effect - a "Personalized Information Stream".
- Search - Search is a critical feature for an ESN, and will allow users to locate other users, featured content, important links, business events and any other content which is necessary for them to work effectively and efficiently.
Why Should I Care About Enterprise Social Networks
Enterprise Social Networks represent an evolution of the old Intranet idea, and are an essential tool in modern enterprises where rapid information sharing, thorough knowledge transfer, rapid innovation, and effective collaboration are essential. Additionally, younger employees have been conditioned to expect software to have these "social" aspects and will demand these kinds of tools, especially as more and more Millenials move into the workforce.
ESNs help avoid the costs associated with low employee engagement, help break down silos within your organization, work against the "nobody around here knows what they are doing" feeling, and support better workplace morale.
How Can An Enterprise Social Network Benefit My Organization
An Enterprise Social Network can serve as the "social fabric" that underpins the free flow of knowledge and information with your organization. With engaged employees, sharing and collaborating using an Enterprise Social Network, you avoid the tremendous costs associated with simple mis-coordination issues, and you begin to integrate the knowledge within your enterprise into a cohesive whole. As users discuss, tag, share, publish, vote on, and use content streamed through the ESN, tacit knowledge is captured and made accessible, which is a crucial step towards transforming your organization into a "Learning Organization" and finally realizing the dream of effective Knowledge Management.
How Do I Implement An Enterprise Social Network
There are a plethora of products on the market which claim to be "enterprise social networks". The products include freely available Open Source offerings, proprietary offerings from the likes of IBM and Jive Software, hosted SaaS application in the Salesforce Chatter or Microsoft Yammer molds, as well as a mish-mash of other products which are barely "enterprise" OR "social" in any meaningful sense. Some firms also choose the "roll your own" approach.
And while many of our competitors offer high quality, useful products, we believe that the Fogcutter suite is the best option for many, if not most, firms. All of the components of the Fogcutter suite - including Quoddy, our Enterprise Social Network platform - are Open Source, developed in the open, use open standards and common protocols, and provide a wonderfully flexible and powerful base for your ESN rollout.
Quoddy is unique among ESN products in that it features a radical focus on integrating with actual value creating business processes and workflows, unlike many other ESN products. With Quoddy, you can subscribe to relevant business events right from your ESB/SOA infrastructure, integrate with BPM / Workflow systems, Document Management Systems, Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning and Manufacturing Resource Planning systems, and even your Sales Force Automation systems... with Semantic Integration powered by emerging Semantic Web technologies, Quoddy provides the most unified and cohesive view into the knowledge and information that your users need to collaborate, innovate and make better, faster decisions.
For more information on Fogcutter, Quoddy and our other mondo tubular products, please contact us today.
- Enterprise Social Networking entry @ Wikipedia
- Enterprise Social Software entry @ Wikipedia
- Five Evils of Enterprise Social Networks - Network World
- Ten Startling Reasons To Use An Enterprise Social Network
- Ten Guidelines For Choosing An Enterprise Social Network
- Enterprise Social Networks Are Here To Stay
- AIIM - What Is Enterprise 2.0?
Information on this page partially based on the corresponding Wikipedia pages, and the other links above.