Finding Value in Enterprise Social Computing

This is a flashback to a post I wrote 3 years ago.

Enterprise Social kind of took a pause there for a while.

But, as noted by Ron Miller Enterprise Social is Roaring Back.

The market for platform providers and vendors has shifted and morphed quite a bit in the last few years. Some leaders have been acquired. Some have done some acquiring themselves. And, others have just slipped away.

What has held true about Social Computing and is especially true with Enterprise Social Networking and Computing is …

You Get Out What You Put In!


Heads Up: In the next few posts I will be continuing this discussions of how to aggregate disparate Social Computing content repositories and describing what might become the future of Enterprise Social Computing (ESC). Also, I will be covering how to gain ESC adoption and how to integrate and communicate the results to drive the business forward to achieve an ROI on Enterprise Social Computing.

Finding Value in Enterprise Social Computing

Is there value in Social Computing? From a personal standpoint I think the answer is a fairly obvious yes. People have embraced Social Networks and Social Computing. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube have become ubiquitous and are driving billions of dollars in revenue. However, their focus has primarily been with end users and their experience.

What about the enterprise?

  • What’s in it for the enterprise?
  • Why should a company care about Social Computing?
  • What’s the ROI on Enterprise Social Computing?

There are a few factors to consider with the primary focus being that companies want and need to develop a Centralized System for Communication. There are numerous reasons for having a centralized system of communications.


  • Faster top-to-bottom communication streams internally.
  • Minimizing confusion by utilizing speed. If there is confusion it can be corrected rapidly.
  • Adapting to changing market conditions.
  • Improving communications with customers and partners.

But, all of these factors only work when adoption of the tools takes place. They only work when there is a consistent and predictable use of the tools. And when management and the employees are committed to giving them enough time to show results.

The Three R’s of Social Engagement

Another way to look at the value and towards the ROI for Social Computing is through the 3 R’s of Social Engagement (plus there is a side benefit of the 4th R … we’ll get to that).

Relationship, Responsibility, Repeatability

  • Relationship – Social Computing is about People.
  • Responsibility – Social Computing is about Accountability.
  • Repeatability – Social Computing is about Consistency.

All of which drives what I call Corporate Authenticity. Which is a term and topic I wrote about in 2009.

Trust Our Peers

Of course, the whole idea of Enterprise Social Computing is to engage and align the people more closely with the business.

It’s simple … There is a Human Element involved.

We trust our peers. The information shared internally and with people we know, trust and respect will have a higher probability of being accepted at face value. Which helps speed communications and enables the business to adapt more quickly. Which leads us to the reasons why businesses care and why they will continue to seek adoption of Enterprise Social Computing.

Why do companies care?

  • First and foremost … Protect this House. Insuring the content being shared is kept confidential while encouraging the act of sharing is a challenge. The business has a need to insure the information created and shared in the Enterprise Social Computing platform(s) is secure.
  • Second – Encourage Sharing Internally with the goal of making it easier to engage customers and partners.
  • Third brings us to The 4th R of Social Computing – Revenue.
    The business needs to realize a return on investment (ROI) for Enterprise Social Computing efforts. The obvious measure is in the form of revenue. However, other forms or ROI should not be ignored – good will, customer service, public relations, and the all important word of mouth.

The Risk of NOT Adopting Social Computing

Fines, loss of face and in worst case scenarios … Jail Time.

Too many people are taking the easy route offered by tools like DropBox, Google Docs and Box to store, share and possibly disclose confidential company information – either intentionally or accidentally.

I’m not trying to create a fear of Enterprise Social Computing here. But, just like with other corporate information that is misappropriated – either intentionally, maliciously or accidentally – there can be ramifications. These need to be factored into the overall equation and balanced for the specific business needs.

Another post will talk about the role of Records Management and Governance. These are critical topics and elements to a well rounded Enterprise Social Computing strategy.

Why do vendors care?

It's simple ... Social is The Fabric of our Lives.

imageThis has been proven in the consumer markets with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s still early days for the Enterprise Social Computing market, but that means there are huge opportunities waiting to be tapped and filled by vendors.

The smart vendors, including the platform providers, realize this and they are jumping in.

Microsoft, SalesForce, Jive, Google and IBM are actively developing, marketing and selling ESC solutions. There are attempts by Oracle, SAP and other large enterprise platform providers to jump into the space too – either by acquisitions or by extending their existing offerings. The point is … the market is wide open.

Of course, vendors need to see an ROI too. The Enterprise Social Software market is expected to become a $6.4 Billion dollar market in 2016. That’s enough to get vendors interested and building solutions that help customers reach for the 4 R’s of Social Engagement and to drive towards Corporate Authenticity.

There have been a few vendors that have kept the pace and to a large extent led the field. Including local companies to the Seattle area like Simply Measured and others that include Hubspot and Sprinklr have remained independent. Which allows them the flexibility to break new ground and lead the way in areas that have a direct overlap into the Enterprise Social Computing space with the Dark Web. More on this in a follow on post about the Dark Web.

Derived Value

Enterprise Social Computing follows the age old metaphor ...

You Get Out What You Put In!

Which begs the question …

How much will you put in?

Any Enterprise Social Computing effort will need time, effort and a long view commitment to achieve success. It will not be an overnight success. It will need to morph and change along the way. And to achieve an ROI there will need to be realistic milestones. Ultimately the perceived and derived value will be driven by how much the companies puts in.

It will not be an overnight success

Will Enterprise Social Computing transform the business?
The answer is YES … if you let it.

imagePutting people at the center of the conversation and allowing them to communicate, share and make adjustments to the business in a real-time fashion is empowering and rewarding. This hasn’t changed for thousands of years.

Try it … you just might find you like it a lot more than you ever imagined.

And you might find that employee satisfaction goes up. As well as improvements in market awareness and the ability to adapt more quickly. All the while getting more customer and partner awareness, adoption and revenue.

Ultimately the goal is to help businesses become more comfortable and effective at Finding Value in Enterprise Social Computing.


clip_image001Jeff is business advisor, mentor and community engagement expert. He has spent most of his career in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2.

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