Over the last few years social has started to appear across the enterprise both as standalone applications and embedded add-ons: however it has not become as pervasive as in the consumer space due to the nature of the conversation. Many companies have promoted social as a vehicle to satisfy the different generations (especially the Facebook generation) however unless a team is dispersed there needs to be a reason to converse online rather than in person. You don’t need a social tool to talk to the person next to you, although it does offer a record of the conversation for all to see.
Social is an excellent vehicle for communications teams to disseminate information and affect cultural change as emails tend to be ignored and no other medium has the power to engage disparate or siloed parts of the organisation. However communications alone will not ensure that a platform remains “sticky” and that users will return. Community managers can begin to fill this void and ensure that the platforms sustain a heartbeat, however once the initial inertia has passed new approaches are needed to maintain engagement. Different features like polls and praise can offer additional ways to maintain engagement however it still leaves social in the “nice to have” rather than the essential category.
As coined by the Web (Web1.0, Web2.0 & Web3.0) the same dynamic can be used for social. Social is only just starting to move from Social 1.0 as although the platforms allow for conversation, most of the output in an enterprise is still push and the majority of the users are lurkers rather than contributors or authors. Social 2.0 will begin as soon as organisations embed social into its Business processes and fabric. There are a number of applications like BPM (Business Process Management) which are moving their processing from the email space into the Social environment where you can approve or submit requests directly from the social stream; however they do tend to be additions to a bespoke system rather than embedded into other enterprise social tools. Once these applications start offering plug-ins into the popular Social Platforms, Social will start to become more pervasive in the enterprise and there will be a reason for everyone to interact. Naturally like any new technology the key is to remove the alternate way of working to encourage adoption.
Enterprise adoption of Social for Business purposes will not only save people time but also money, so in austere times the Business case is strong. There is one thing to remember though, digital is not just a direct representation of paper, you need to evaluate every process moved into the digital space to ensure that it is re-engineered to be efficient in the environment that it is served. A bad paper process will be a bad Digital process.