Is Enterprise Social a Waste? – The Sequel

Greg MeanyNewsLeave a Comment

Several weeks ago we posted a blog asking the question “Is enterprise social a waste?”. The post was based on a report from the Sierra Ventures CIO Summit that declared enterprise social tools were the most over-hyped product group of 2013. To be honest, we actually were a little concerned about posting a blog with such a provocative title because there’s a team voting aspect to our own enterprise Q&A product, Haydle. But in an effort to differentiate our approach to social functionality and not get caught up in the pending tide of negative opinion about enterprise social platforms we decided to hit the publish button….

 

Earlier this week the WSJ published a blog post by Steve Rosenbush that reinforced the issues emerging with enterprise social platforms.  The post entitled “Antisocial: Why New Communications Tools Aren’t Catching on Faster at Work” focused on the marketplace rumors that Jive Software, one of the primary players in the enterprise social space was seeking a buyer. Rosenbush cited Re/code’s Arik Hesseldahl’s article Jive for sale for the rumor and noted that since their 2011 IPO Jive has experienced sales headwinds and actually signed half the number of new customers in 2013 as they did in 2012. (This information remains unconfirmed by Jive)

 

To be clear, our purpose is not to pile on the difficulties for Jive. We frequently talk to prospects that are Jive customers and they seem to have a strong commitment to the product. But the trends do indicate a need for updated thinking about which social approaches actually work in the enterprise and which need to be re-considered.

 

Perhaps the question is, what problems are the large enterprise social platforms trying to solve? Is it to give employees the same social functionality they get in their personal lives? Is it to try and find a channel to reduce the flood of email? Is it to create a sense of collaboration?

 

Unfortunately, none of the answers to those questions has delivered real results to the value-chain. Does posting “what are you working on” help your co-workers? Maybe, but its unclear how useful that information is over time. Is any measurable amount of email in danger of being absorbed into a social channel? No. Is collaboration actually increased? It’s difficult to quantify. And there’s the rub. None of these ideas has a measurable impact on making an employee’s job easier, getting products to market faster or improving customer satisfaction. And, they require a commitment to a new platform and a new workflow. Social for social’s sake sounded like such a good idea, but we’ve reached a crossroad where an idea we all thought had merit just isn’t playing out the way we anticipated.

 

So what’s the answer? Here at Haydle we value social functionality but look at it from a different vantage point. At its core, Haydle is a knowledge management product with a social component, not a social platform with a knowledge management component.

 

Haydle solves the problem of undocumented knowledge in an enterprise. This is the truly valuable information trapped in the heads of subject matter experts and frequently lost in CMSs, intranets, wikis, and discussion boards. Haydle uses questions to pull information from an organization, then uses team voting to validate the answers and capture the results for future search-ability. A virtuous circle if you will. The result is people’s work life gets easier, projects get done faster, and a real sense of collaboration and team work is realized without all the noise and obsession of the social channel.

 

As the alignment of business and technology continues grow in importance CIOs will look at their application landscape and consider the real impact of social on the success of the enterprise. This early reality check raises doubts about the business usefulness of implementing a large platform to bring personally familiar social functionality to the enterprise, but it also makes us consider how a more targeted approach to social can deliver more predictable and more desirable results.

 

Always interested in you thoughts…