LumoFlow by Lumo Research Ltd

Enterprise Social Media - Where Is the Business Value?

Blogikirjoitus   •   Loka 21, 2010 08:50 EEST

As part of our Tekes funded product development project, we have had many executive interviews during this autumn related to social media within enterprises. During those interviews we found that social media phenomenon is adding huge pressure towards enterprise IT-administration.

People believe that if you are not in, you are completely out – that’s what most social media consultants are currently saying. Reminds me quite much of 90′s when new media companies were selling web sites. Back then I used to work with cool companies like Razorfish and for me it’s easy to see the similarities between the current. And I know I’m not alone with these thoughts. Alf Rehn, a global business thinker, ended up to Kauppalehti’s headlines in Finland after saying this loud. As you can read from Alf Rehn’s blog, he’s not against the social media and didn’t mean to be so sensational. The social media subject is simply so much in the hype right now.

Under this huge pressure large corporations have started to adapt social solutions for internal enterprise networking needs. It’s currently done simply by adding together all possible known solutions as a platform or set of cloud services, including wikis, blogs, social feeds and you-name-it social sites. The problem is that it’s actually not so easy to understand when those concepts are really useful and how they should be implemented. Tools have become more important than solutions.

A great example is microblogging. During last two months I’ve now seen more than five customer cases where large enterprise (>5000 employees) have started to use internal microblogging service and after six months executives have realized that discussion in those feeds is actually nonsense and the activity levels are fading. The problem is not in microblogging itself (that’s one of the best ways to keep your social network current!), but without clear targets and business objectives the established social network is loosing it’s productivity. That’s one reason why we have added engagement and measuring to our LumoFlow social workspaces concepts.

What we have learned so far is that the answer to many of these questions can be found from the theories of social productivity. “Social” issues cannot be solved with traditional IT-solutions and platforms. For example Gartner predicts that through 2012 over 70 percent of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail:

“Organizations are accustomed to providing a technology platform (such as, e-mail, IM, Web conferencing) rather than delivering a social solution that targets specific business value.”

I couldn’t agree more. It’s understandable when we look a bit back to history. IT managers are used to solve the problems in process improvement, but when we are talking about social productivity the issues are related to people. Instead of talking processes and platforms, we should be talking about social theories and focused business solutions.

Could some day IT-dominated become for example HR-dominated? Maybe, but what’s for sure is that CIO should now hold his horses and find the business case before installing a new platform.