Social Networking in the Enterprise Needs a Specific Purpose

    While adoption of social networking in the enterprise remains relatively nascent, organizations that have adopted it often find they face some challenges in coping with all the various levels of collaboration that social networking enables.

    Social networking in the enterprise tends to dramatically increase the signal to noise. People suddenly find themselves included in all kinds of conversations — the vast majority of which turn out to be not particularly relevant to any of their jobs at hand. Unfortunately, they wind up devoting a significant amount of time and effort to sorting out which conversations actually do apply them.

    Social networking in the enterprise tends to reduce the strain on the email system, but a lot of organizations are hard pressed to apply a tangible return on investment to it. As a result, Moxie Software, a provider of social networking software delivered as a service, just added a free desktop file synchronization capability to the company’s core platform.

    Nikhil Govindaraj, vice president of product marketing for Moxie Software, says the primary issue winds up having to do with the need to collaborate with a purpose. Too many organizations are rolling out social networking in the enterprise without tying it to a specific business objective, says Govindaraj. To that end, Moxie includes the ability to create knowledge management systems that aggregate data about a particular process. That information can then be distributed via the social networking application. For example, Govindaraj says a company could apply Moxie as part of their call center operations in an effort to unify the management of the customer experience.

    What Govindaraj is getting at is that social networking in the business context needs to be all about optimizing a business process, which is why we’re starting to see the rise of social business process management (BPM). Otherwise, it can easily wind up being yet another technology in search of a business problem to solve. Worse yet, it can easily wind up being a technology that does more harm than good from an end-user productivity perspective.

    None of this means that social networking in the enterprise doesn’t have a lot of potential value; it just means it needs to be used with care.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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