No matter what type of business you do, one fact will always remain the same: Your most valuable resource will always be your people. People power is especially important in our tech-driven world, where any brainstorming session can create a market-disrupting innovation.
But here’s the problem: The larger your organization, the more difficult it is to look internally to find the best people for your teams. More talent makes it harder to know where to look or who to approach for help to address challenges. This pain is especially potent in an era where the whole of humanity’s knowledge seems to be a Google search away. After all, we have technology that can pinpoint the best Detroit-style pizza place or recommend the perfect B-movie with both zombies and aliens. Why don’t we have it for finding people within your organization?
Enterprise social software is a relatively new category, but these tools are becoming more ubiquitous and essential. When deployed effectively, they can make large organizations more agile and better positioned to succeed in a competitive marketplace. Here’s why.
What Is enterprise social software?
Enterprise social software is a term that encompasses any technology that enables an enterprise to enrich its social fabric, connect members of an organization, and increase collaboration. This can encompass intranets, collaboration, and communication tools.
Another example of enterprise social software would be an internal people search engine. More than just an organizational phone book, enterprise social software systems (such as Sift) give employees the chance to tell their story, highlighting their education, skills, areas of interest and areas in which they are seeking further professional development.
But when we say “social” we don’t mean “social media.” It’s simply a way to bring your organization even closer together, so that it’s easier to leverage people’s talents. Everyone throughout the enterprise has access to the same information, whether it’s an intern looking for a mentor or a CEO seeking help on a project. In fact, enterprise social software systems better equip organizations for the shift to project-based work. After all, the only way to know who to put onto a team is to know who that person is in the first place!
Findability vs. Discoverability
Many organizations already have digital directories, which leads to the question “What purpose does implementing enterprise social software serve?”
Enterprise social software actually addresses a crucial concern in knowledge management: the issue of findability versus discoverability.
“Findability” is one’s ability to locate something specific within a database, similar to looking for a topic in an encyclopedia or searching for a movie on Netflix.
But “discoverability” is the ability to … well, to discover something you didn’t know before. Perhaps a piece of software uses its algorithm to provide you with information that you may not quite know that you need. In a more analog sense, think of the numerous companies providing curated goods, such as Stitch Fix or Blue Apron.
Using enterprise social software to embrace discoverability can significantly speed up knowledge transfer throughout your organization, which can be a differentiator for the business. It can also create networking opportunities for employees, and offer them new career opportunities as they leverage latent skills they may not be using in their current position. In turn, this gives organizations a better chance to tap into their employees’ full potential.
Break down hierarchies with enterprise social software
Interdepartmental communication can feel incredibly hierarchical. At many organizations, if team members need help from an expert in another department they have to spend a significant amount of time figuring out who they have to speak to.
Enterprise social software, however, empowers employees to find the people they need, when they need them. You don’t even need to know a person’s name to find them; all you need to know is the specific skill set you’re searching for. It’s a solution that flattens organizational hierarchies and smooths the silos that sometimes keep people apart.
How to successfully deploy enterprise social software
Enterprise social software is enormously valuable, but implementing it successfully requires that you demonstrate its value.
As you look for a tool, ensure that it has great user experience and that it provides the solutions your organization needs. Consider creating a flow chart of the various processes you want your enterprise social software to assist you with. Also, look at your existing systems; the ideal solution for your company will integrate seamlessly with your existing data streams, creating a single source of truth for your people data.
When implementing the tool, make sure that you demonstrate its value to your employees - remember, they're your true stakeholders. Follow the principles of the technology acceptance model, which states that employees will adopt a new tool if they understand that it will make their jobs easier and that it’s easy to use. This may take some effort to provide training and models that demonstrate the efficacy of the software.
Finally, ensure that your C-suite is aligned with your goals and is helping lead the charge for implementation. Their buy-in will create an example for the rest of the organization and will help you unleash the full capabilities of enterprise social software.