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Summary:

Social networking may be an omnipresent trend these days in the consumer sphere, but not every boss is thrilled when someone suggests bringing it into the enterprise. Yammer Co-Founder and CTO Adam Pisoni has an argument to convince any skeptic.

Social Networking for Enterprise Skepticism

Social networking may be an omnipresent trend these days in the consumer sphere, but not every boss is thrilled when someone suggests bringing it into the enterprise. Maybe you’re the guy who thinks employees have better things to do than chat, or maybe it’s your supervisor who fears an endless virtual complaints box and foresees sensitive information broadcast to frighteningly large groups. But Yammer co-founder and CTO Adam Pisoni has an argument to convince any skeptic.

Speaking to WebWorkerDaily following an appearance at the IBF 24 event and the announcement of new business integration tools for his product this week, Pisoni offered strong arguments to counter skeptics of social networking for the organization:

When I think about who in a company should be the happiest about this, it’s executives. Because your employees are talking about the good and bad of your company somewhere, and if it’s not within your corporate social network, then it’s either around the water cooler or on Twitter or Facebook – places that you have far less visibility.

Companies are really taking advantage of the fact that not only can they bring that in-house, but they can turn it into a positive by getting involved. The ability for a brand new employee to have an interaction with the CEO on his first day – you can’t imagine what kind of impact that has on retention and loyalty.

We’ve heard so many stories about an employee or a set of employees who disagreed with a policy change that was about to be made and went on Yammer to start talking about it. Executives were able to get involved, explain what was going on and turn that situation around.

Historically, because information has been so siloed, it’s been easy to believe that you could control that information and make sure people don’t talk about things. But with something like Yammer you turn that into a more connected workforce that feels involved with the executives, with the strategy, with the vision, and thus become more productive on executing on that vision.

If you’re still unsure that you can prove the value of social networking for businesses, Pisoni adds an analogy to illustrate the power of social tools for connecting employees:

People  often question: what is the value of social? I gave this analogy on the IBF 24. Nowadays when you’re walking down the street and you want to find a good restaurant, you pop out your iPhone, you do a search on Google Maps and it tells you where the restaurant is. You look up reviews, get the phone number, get bus maps and all that stuff. This process — that used to be highly inefficient, that required going to many different channels to look for information in many different ways — has been brought together in a way that is so highly efficient. Google has taken all these databases and brought them together in a simple interface.

The way I look at social in the enterprise is it’s that same kind of thing but around people, where people are these repositories of knowledge and the social layer really takes these complicated processes that would have involved going up and down hierarchical chains of management or across divisions in geography and connects them in a way that is very similar to that Google Maps app on the iPhone. Because people are really the greatest source of knowledge within a company.

Has Pisoni succeeded in swaying your skeptic (whether internal or external)?

Image courtesy Flickr user jonny goldstein

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  1. What Pisoni is talking about is what communications specialists call employee engagement, and whilst tools like Yammer may help *some* employees feel more engaged, they do not mean that *all* will. That’s why these tools are just one part of a wider strategy that includes – shock horror – face-to-face meetings, town hall meetings, away days, leadership summits, conference calls, etc., etc.

    We need to get away from the enterprise-social-networking-as-silver-bullet idea and stop misleading executives into thinking that it is a replacement for real consultation, discussion and feedback. It’s not. It’s just another tool.

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