Slideshow 6 Considerations for Your Enterprise's Social Strategy

  • June 21 2013, 12:11pm EDT

Of the hottest enterprise information management trends, social and collaboration is the most familiar to users already. But that doesn’t make its selection and ROI any easier for enterprise data decision makers. So what should you weigh when considering strategies and tools for ESNs and collaboration suites? These half-dozen tips are condensed from a report by MWD Advisors Researcher Angela Ashenden.

1. Focus on More than Technology

Like other IT and data initiatives, social and collaboration must be a combination of process, strategy and solutions. Based on the reach of social networks and consumer collaboration/communication tools, there is an upside of better awareness with the purpose of these solutions, which may inject some “enthusiasm” to the strategy and process parts of this plan, MWD suggests. Ashenden summarizes: “If individuals are not in the habit of thinking collaboratively in the way they work, simply giving them new tools is not going to suddenly make them work differently, at least, not on an enterprise-wide scale.”

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2. Don’t Think Cheap

There are low-cost or free-mium social collaboration tools, though your budget should connect with the needs of changing employee attitudes and capabilities toward day-to-day sharing and not merely the price tag. You’ll already be spending to make sure any tool lines up with your enterprise plans and systems connections, so make sure you are involved with one that gives business users the confidence to do their jobs better.

3. Pace Yourself

The range of functions with ESNs and collaboration tools can stack up: blogs, comments and discussions, profiles, connections, recommendations, collaborative editing, wikis, file sharing, rating, tagging, groups, etc. That’s great for people used to diving into various social networks, but it can be overwhelming for many others. For starters, MWD suggests sticking to a “few well-chosen features ... to avoid turning off a large subset of your audience on day one.” This also opens the dialogue for what’s working and what people might be interested in seeing and using next.

4. E-mail isn’t Going Anywhere

Social and collaboration capabilities won’t replace the standard bearer of office communication, the e-mail, any time soon. E-mail is poor at tasks such as group discussions and document collaboration, and new social/collaboration capabilities could be a welcome change to these processes. But you need a tool for certain sensitive communications or contact with customers and people outside of your organization. Start by integrating your email with desired collaboration capabilities.

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5. Put Social in the Palm of your Hand

In the consumer world, Facebook, Twitter and many other smaller social platforms have taken off in part because of the adoption of heartier mobile devices. Ashenden of MWD writes that adoption of enterprise social platforms is “significantly accelerated” when they can be accessed by users away from their desks or on their own devices. Of course, this expands the risk and need for access security measures, but it could be worth it in terms of getting users engaged quickly.

6. Avoid the Social Silo

As organizations advance over data and IT strategies toward better user reach and agility, you want to avoid problems of the past in setting up a social and collaboration platform as another silo. Stressing the tight integration of social/collaboration with existing ECM, CRM and other line-of-business applications will “make it easier for people to grasp the value of social collaboration, and to adopt the software,” Ashenden writes.