There’s still a significant drag on incorporating social collaboration tools in the business, and much of it is coming from IT.
Microsoft, which has at least 1.2 billion reasons for promoting the use of social networking within enterprises, sponsored a social collaboration survey of nearly 10,000 individuals in companies with a minimum of 100 employees. It found that 77 percent of the respondents wanted tools that would improve collaborating in the office, but according to 68 percent, IT is unwilling to support social networking for their business function because of security concerns.
Fifty-eight percent also said social networking sites would hinder productivity and so aren’t supported by IT.
Another interesting finding: 31 percent said they’d be willing to use their own money just to be able to use social media tools in the office.
Perhaps part of the problem is how IT thinks about social technology. Facebook, Twitter and other public social media sites certainly could raise questions about security and compliance.
But that shouldn’t be a reason to avoid all social technology. Another way to use social tools is as an add-on for existing technologies.
“You should consider the existing systems that you are already using and how enterprise social software can – or can’t – integrate with them,” Vipin Thomas, product manager at enterprise social networking company MangoApps, writes in a recent Business2Community article. “Some enterprise social software integrates well with legacy platforms. Others operate as a separate silo. User satisfaction tends to much higher when enterprise social software can integrate with existing platforms as opposed to being a standalone platform that doesn’t add value to the systems workers are already using.”
Integration seems to be the key word here.
That’s a trend we should see across social software and enterprise apps, according to Dion Hinchcliffe, Chief Strategy Officer at Dachis Group and the Enterprise Web 2.0 blogger for ZDNet.
“One of the bigger trends in social software recently has been ‘connectors’ to bridge social media with existing business applications,” Hinchcliffe wrote in his January prediction post. “In 2013, many enterprises will understand how these work, get better at turning these connectors on, and make them available to workers. In addition, updates to traditional business applications will continue to add more social networking features (often through social media startups they’ve acquired) that allow improved collaboration and sharing.”
To integrate social collaboration into your existing business process, Thomas recommends IT focus on building five “must-have” integrations for any social platform:
- Document repository, integrated with document management software such as SharePoint, Windows File Server or whatever you happen to use. This will allow you to control and audit the sharing of documents and other files.
- CRM integration. Hinchcliffe suspects social CRM will remain a silo from other enterprise applications for now, but forward-thinking companies and those truly focused on providing top-notch customer service will want to integrate CRM with social platforms, argues Thomas.
- LDAP/Active directory integration. This will boost the security and ease identity management for enterprise collaboration tools.
- An Inline Frame, which is used to embed another web-based site into your site, so you can use your enterprise collaboration tool to work in other business applications.
- Google Analytics, to help you track enterprise social network use.