The So­cial En­ter­prise

Busi­nesses are dis­cov­er­ing the col­lab­o­ra­tive power of so­cial net­works. And em­ploy­ees are

Business Traveler (USA) - - BUSINESS TRAVELER - By Dan Booth

Busi­nesses are dis­cov­er­ing the col­lab­o­ra­tive power of so­cial net­works. And em­ploy­ees are reap­ing the benefits

In the dig­i­tal age, busi­nesses for whom the lin­gua franca is knowl­edge have a prob­lem: Too much in­for­ma­tion spread out among too many sources, and no good way to connect the right knowl­edge hold­ers to­gether to cre­ate real wis­dom. The re­sult is that dig­i­tal knowl­edge does not get passed be­tween peo­ple ef­fec­tively, and busi­nesses lose out. Of course the prob­lem isn’t re­ally new; com­mu­ni­ca­tion gaps have been the bane of do­ing busi­ness since the first mis­di­rected memo (prob­a­bly dat­ing back to an­cient Egypt). More re­cently, tech­nol­ogy plat­forms such as In­tranets have been em­ployed to pro­vide cor­po­rate-wide so­lu­tions.

But th­ese days, the ex­po­nen­tial growth of dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion is sim­ply over­whelm­ing le­gacy col­lab­o­ra­tion tools and widen­ing the gap be­tween who knows what and how best to use that abun­dance of valu­able in­for­ma­tion.

En­ter the En­ter­prise So­cial Net­work. In much the same way as con­sumer-fac­ing plat­forms such as Face­book and LinkedIn cre­ate mil­lions of user-de­fined so­cial groups, en­ter­prise so­cial net­works al­low em­ploy­ees in com­pa­nies to or­ga­nize them­selves and com­mu­ni­cate in a less for­mal, more flex­i­ble en­vi­ron­ment.

Rather than es­tab­lish­ing rigid, top-down, of­ten heav­ily siloed org chart art of who owns what in­for­ma­tion, ESN tools let em­ploy­ees cre­ate pro­files and list de­tails about them­selves. In turn, this makes it eas­ier for other em­ploy­ees or work­ing groups to find them by skill or re­spon­si­bil­ity, or by busi­ness unit.

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