Currently, social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are used by more than 66% of adults online. Enterprises today have recognized the information flows on these platforms as valuable ways to facilitate better communication. This has sparked the use of social networking for business needs, an idea that lies at the core of Enterprise Social Networking (ESN).
Enterprise social networks represent a key feature of enterprise 2.0. This connected, always-on business uses an internal, proprietary social network to help employees collaborate and communicate in an open and unstructured manner. A host of third-party enterprise social softwares (ESS) have also entered the market to address this emerging organizational trend.
The primary benefit of ESN adoption lies in collaboration. Networks come equipped with instant messaging and video-conferencing to support a dynamic work environment where knowledge can be extended across hierarchical boundaries with ease. The build-as-you-go structure of these networks helps employees develop collaborative solutions in an adaptive manner. Furthermore, employees have easy access to best practices and expert information on an open platform.
This improved access and flow of information can boost organizational productivity. Innovation is encouraged when employees have the tools and support they need. This can also ensure a faster time to market as new ideas are efficiently managed through the network. These social networks can also encourage crowdsourcing of internal process improvements. The maintenance of an always-on system delivers real-time insights for better business intelligence.
ESN serves as a valuable tool to foster corporate culture. Employee satisfaction and motivation can improve with better access to productive tools and resources, creating a bottom-up workflow. Research suggests that engaged employees are 37% more likely to stay with their employer and deliver five times higher shareholder returns than others.
Organizations that operate across geographical territories stand to benefit from the adoption of an enterprise social networks as employees stationed in remote locations can communicate with ease. A majority of social networks are optimized for mobile and include robust security measures to protect valuable enterprise data. This can also result in significant cost benefits with an improvement in processes efficiencies and smooth management of workflow. The integration of these solutions with the cloud and SaaS can help organizations reduce infrastructure and investment needs further reducing costs.
Enterprise social networks are set to become an organizational imperative as they become open, scalable and more secure. Recent estimates suggest that 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies will deploy enterprise social networks by the end of 2013 with the global ESS market expected to grow from $721.3 million in 2012 to $6.18 billion in 2018. With a host of benefits to be gained from such solutions, companies are equipped to make smarter and better informed decisions as they become the social enterprise. What are your thoughts on enterprise social networking? Please leave your comments below.