From ThoughtFarmer: How Social Intranets support better Employee Engagement

Social Intranets and Employee Engagement White Paper Cover

Thoughtfarmer’s Social Intranet and Employee Engagement paper pulls together a range of statistics that add to the case for social intranets (and I would say more broadly, Social Business). Quoting research by Cornell University, Gallup, Aon Hewitt, and Aberdeen Group they point out the cost of low employee engagement and also the gains for organisations that do use social software (including blogs, wikis and social networking tools). In the rest of the paper you can explore how ThoughtFarmer’s own customers have been applying their platform to support the goal of enabling greater employee engagement.

The social business network – right here, right now in Australia

Look past the funky names of today’s social networking tools, however, and chances are there will be enough nifty features to justify the investment. For social business is becoming serious business: A way for organisations to collaborate, build brands, manage reputations, influence thinking, service customers and sell products.

Good to see some sensible coverage of the social business software space popping up in Australia that also includes local case studies. This article talks about well known local companies like Aristocrat, Australia Post, Commonwealth Bank, The Good Guys, National Australia Bank, Optus, Suncorp, Telstra, and Vodafone as all making use of social business software tools like Socialtext, tibbr and Yammer.

BTW I have just one correction for the article, NSW DET are now using Socialtext (they call it ‘Maang‘).

Susan Scrupski: Social Business by the Numbers

  • What’s different about the social business category is there are multiple entry points for a sale.  The sale could come from IT, Sales, Marketing, Customer Support, HR, Corporate Communications or more often than not a  Business Unit.  < Key learning: this is different in software investing.  Buyers abound.
  • The Social Business story has reached a tipping point.  No longer are sales “missionary” sales.  There are line item budgets for social business software, and large RFPs are on the market from F1000 companies who are investing in these platforms.    Further, every software company is now incorporating social into its product suite, albeit mostly still relegated to “silo” functional software for specific departmental needs (Sales, HR, etc.)
  • Social Software is not a “replacement” category of software like  Salesforce was with Seibel or Workday is with various ERP modules.  This is not a cloud v. on premise alternative. (Jive sells both on and off premise).
  • The deals are larger.  Jive closed three million dollar plus deals in the fourth quarter of 2011.  Large institutions in various industry segments (PwC, Thomson Reuters, and Ace Insurance) chose Jive  to introduce a new way of working to their firms.
  • Social Business software delivers real value to every knowledge worker in the enterprise. The market opportunity exceeds that of traditional enterprise software which typically serves a discrete business unit function (manufacturing, HR, finance, sales, etc.).

Following on from my post yesterday, my Dachis Group colleague Susan Scrupski has posted some points (from a Jive investor call) about the value of the social business software market. I’m sharing this not because I think you are necessarily interested in how much money companies might make from “social business software”, but rather because its an indicator of what defines “social business” and how it is different from other technology driven initiatives.

A second look at the facts and fiction of Social Business

In 2011, the US hit a milestone — more than half of all adults visit social networking sites at least once a month. But when it comes to using social-networking technologies inside organizations, many business leaders are at a loss to understand what value can be created from Facebook-like status updates within the enterprise. Some organizations have deployed social-networking features with an initial enthusiastic reception, only to see these early efforts wither to just a few stalwart participants. The problem: Most companies approach enterprise social networks as a technology deployment and fail to understand that the new relationships created by enterprise social networks are the source for value creation. In this first of two reports, Altimeter looks at four ways enterprise social networks create value for organizations.

While I think we should recognise the limitations of the Altimeter survey (i.e. the small sample, a variety of organisational/business units sizes and geographies mixed in the results) there are definitely some interesting points to reflect on in this free report (and thank you Altimeter for sharing both the report and the data).

However, I think looking at this report and reflecting on Sameer Patel’s reaction, I think he is painting an overly gloomy picture of ‘social business’ because it hasn’t (yet) come up with a set of generic spend x on software y and we promise you’ll receive z. (ok I’m paraphasing – read Sameer’s post and then read the rest of mine!)

Firstly, no-one in this survey felt that that were measuring the impact of ESNs “very well” (31% said somewhat well and the rest either somewhat poorly or very poorly). Further, many of the measures reported are highly questionable, particularly if used in isolation – e.g. % of employees using it.

Secondly, we have no data here that indicates either how they approached the deployment of these tools or how well they rated the effectiveness of the approach taken. The assumption is that they have all deployed them 100% effectively.

Finally, we have no benchmark data for organisational performance for both organisations attempting to become social businesses versus those that haven’t.

I’ve mentioned before some research in Australia that reported how high-performing workplaces are up to 12% more productive and three times more profitable than their peers. However, only 15% of organisation in Australia exhibit management practices that support this – these are: being highly responsive to changes in customers’ and suppliers’ circumstances, encouraging high employee participation in decision-making, achieving on-the-job learning through mentoring and job rotation, making effective use of information and technology and attracting and retaining high quality people.

But since the benefits are clear in bottom line terms, why aren’t organisations falling into line behind these practices?

In a way, I think I agree with many of Sameer’s points but its a stretch to write off Social Business based on this data alone. Really there is whole bigger and more complex picture to understand around what makes organisations more productive or effective that we actually don’t understand that well.

Social Intranets and Managing Remote Teams courtesy of ThoughtFarmer

If you have about an hour to spare and haven’t bumped into the theory and advice around the management of virtual teams before (something I haven’t written about specifically since I moved my blog off Blogger) then this is worth watching. The Webinar features Nancy White and ThoughtFarmer bring this theory up to date in the context of using a social intranet to support virtual teams. BTW see my brief guide to successful virtual teams for my take on this (written in 2008).

Motley Fool Social Intranet Case Study from Socialtext

An overview of Motley Fool’s “Jingle” intranet. The tangible stat shared in this case study is the 3/4 reduction of all-hands email being sent. For a general overview of Socialtext 5.0, see this presentation recording.