20 May, 2008

Motivation for social networking in the enterprise

Since my last post on social networking in the enterprise a lot has happened. No doubt, that social networking has gone way past the critical mass and we are no longer talking about an emerging trend.

Facebook recently announced they have raised funding for expanding their infrastructure with 50,000 servers. This is to support a rapidly growing user base that even includes my mum. Over the last year LinkedIn has pulled in 361% more unique users. There are thousands of other social networking sites out there and users are not hesitating to join up.

Now that everyone has learned the basic dynamics of social networks through the many Internet sites that are not only growing rapidly in size but also in diversity, it is time to be serious and consider what value it can bring to the enterprise.

In an increasingly complex environment where continuous innovation is required to stay competitive, collaboration is a key factor to success. Most organisations have acknowledged this for quite some time and have been rolling out empowering collaboration solutions (such as Microsoft SharePoint).

But effective collaboration is not only about streamlining how you work together, it also about who you collaborate with. This is where social networking comes in as a booster for collaboration.

Many knowledge-driven organisations actively promote internal networking by facilitating events where employees from various parts of the business can connect and learn from each other. Social networking tools are another way of facilitating internal networking. But the networking can take place anywhere, anytime and at very little cost.

Social networking in the enterprise should first of all be viewed as another productivity solution. It accelerates the pace at which we connect with the right people to perform shared tasks. From a more strategic perspective, social networking tools can help individuals discover capabilities of people within the organisation they otherwise would not have known of.

There certainly seems to be good reasons for why it is even relevant to talk about enterprise social networking. We now need to turn our focus to how we go about it and actually implement it in a way that adds measurable value to the business.

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