Enterprises have been a bit wary about introducing tools to their employees that mimic social activities outside of work for fear of lost productivity. But this generation of workers is accustomed to social media combined with UCC solutions to be effective, collusive and productive. More UCC vendors are introducing products incorporating social features like activity streams that will provide more complete platforms for employees to collaborate on projects. Some products that are using social features include Unify Circuit, Cisco Project Squared, IBM, Jive Software and Microsoft. In a recent survey, 79% of the 700 responding companies said that they currently used one or more internal social networking tools. This open, standards-based approach focuses on communication where enterprise users and customers gather – not on proprietary closed social networking systems.
Social enterprise tools incorporate the characteristics of social media into business processes, providing stronger internal collaboration, and allowing for deeper understanding of customers and better customer satisfaction. When a customer asks a question on Facebook and the person responsible for providing the answer does not know it, they can simply re-share the question on the internal enterprise social network to gain insight from other knowledge workers on the best way to respond. Enterprises can take things one step further by leveraging their enterprise social network into their internal UCC business plan. Corporate communications groups can use enterprise social networking to post the latest news and encourage employees to re-share it on their own social channels.
Social media will change the way we get information, reach experts, solve customer service issues, and connect inside and outside of our companies. Some vendors have developed protocols to help enterprises integrate filtered social media into business communications strategies and solutions and to integrate social media/social networks into enterprise communications processes, tools and technologies.
An example of this can be seen in using social media as a contact center channel. Since these interactions are handled by contact centers, they can be tracked and reported on just like other contact center interactions. By unifying UCC and social media into one desktop interface, contact center agents can see user presence across all media including social media, making it easier to perform functions like click to call/click to conference from things like Twitter discussions.
But some organizations have a lot to consider before adopting enterprise social networking. Regulatory and privacy issues, especially in hospitals and legal services, must be taken into account in order to employ the benefits of social networking while minimizing the risks. In fact, successful enterprise social implementations require careful strategy throughout planning.
So how does a VAR help a customer get started in the planning process? First, the customer needs to know what problems and issues their business is trying to solve. They will need to consider if enterprise social networking (ESN) tools will solve these issues and for which employees. Next, businesses must understand if employees comprehend how buying into ESN will solve their problems. Will ESN work for most employees or just some? And finally, how will its use be measured? This discussion can help determine the need for ESN in a business, and also allow the VAR to become trusted advisor to the company.
Making ESN an integral part of a company’s normal culture requires planning, commitment and continual reminders. Organizations that have found success as a result of ESN agree the benefits are worth the effort. Increased collaboration makes good business sense, enabling employees to better engage with one another, improving innovation and productivity while decreasing the cost and time spent traveling. Once ESN is embedded into the corporate culture to the point where it has become an innate part of standard work activities for business users, the VAR will have become a successful and profitable partner to their customer.
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