Enterprise Social Media: This is the future for business but how am I going to get there?

Social media is changing how we connect, share and collaborate. Early ‘enterprise’ adopters are already reaping the rewards, its time for our business to engage in new ways with customers, employees, vendors and partners.

The parent company I work for has an archaic view on all forms of social media so how the hell are we going to progress with a social enterprise?

Enterprise Social Networking focuses on the use of online social networks or social relations among people who share business interests and activities, it’s often a facility of enterprise social software (regarded as a primary component of Enterprise 2.0).

It encompasses modifications to corporate intranets and other classic software platforms used by business to organise their communication, collaboration and other aspects of their intranets. Enterprise social networking is also generally thought to include the use of a standard external social networking service to generate visibility for an enterprise.

While simultaneously working on a strategy to influence the executives and encourage the business to move in ‘the right’ direction, I am also reviewing the best approach for possible implementation.

There are different kinds of vendors and platforms to benchmark, such as;

  • Specialist social application vendors
  • Enterprise platform vendors
  • Business application vendors

The best solution for our business is one that provides social customer relationship management. The primary goal is to cultivate dialogue and collaboration with customers and prospects, stakeholders within and external to the enterprise.

Internal users can engage with the platform to attract customer and prospective interest, visits and activity with social attributes (such as communities, blogs, cross functional work groups) to directly support sales, marketing and service practices such as campaign management, sales team support, physical store and contact centre feedback.

Sales, marketing and customer service need to be the pillars of a social CRM. Integration with a knowledge management system and analytics would be ideal primary features. There needs to community support which sounds hard when I’m yet to win the support from the Chief Information Officer.

The leading products in the market are Microsoft, IBM, Jive, Yammer, Salesforce.com and Telligent, I’m sure there are more.

In short my strategy will be to review a number of products, weigh up the features and benefits of each, read case studies and talk to companies that are engaged in such a project and then shortlist several options, benchmark, match them with the business needs and conduct a ROI (anecdotal since its not a revenue stream). A cross-functional test-working group would be ideal.

During this process I will be building ANOTHER internal business case to get superior buy-in and attempt to improve the business.

I look forward to linking outcomes back to this blog after progress is made. Experience and advice is welcome.

Dominic Byrne

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