Enterprise Social Networks: Failed Technology Deployments or Excess of Communication

Charlene Li from Altimeter draws a drastic picture of adoption of Enterprise Social Networks:

The reality is that the landscape is littered with failed technology deployments. Altimeter’s research shows that less than half of the enterprise collaboration tools installed have many employees using them regularly.

via Why No One Uses the Corporate Social Network – HBR.

Her point is, that the executives need to lead by example:

As I stood in front of the executive team I posed an opening question: “How many of you have been on the platform in the past week?”

Only a single hand went up – the administrator of the platform.

The problem was simple and obvious – because the top executives didn’t see collaboration and engagement as a good use of their time, employees quickly learned that they shouldn’t either.

via Why No One Uses the Corporate Social Network – HBR.

Executives need to listen, share and engage. Yes, but this is in my opinion only one aspect of the adoption story. There is much more like the need for active community management or the need to convince employees of the value of sharing and collaborating.

Stowe Boyd states on CMSwire that enterprise social networks might lead to an excess of communication:

So, perhaps our enterprise social networks naturally lead the workforce towards an excess of communication, and as a result, people avoid them. At least those that want to get their work done instead of first line managers trying to find out what work has been done.

via The Sticking Point with Social Collaboration Tools.

I do not agree with Stowe. People stick to their well known behavior. They still collaborate by email. They still send attachments. They still send comments by mail instead of putting these comments into the blog, the community or the activity, although the Enterprise Social Network is there and the value of transparency and shared information should be obvious. Looking in my own inbox I do find literally hundreds of emails and email threads, which should not sit in email. This is what I call daily excess of communication. A lot the information is useless, the usual FYI- and CC-mania. But some of it is valuable stuff, which should be saved as knowledge, shared and be worked on much more collaboratively.

What can you do against it? I got as far as lead by example and always evangelize the social way. Yes, we need to bridge the world of email with the social world like we try to do it in IBM Verse. But technology alone won’t stop excess of communication and enable the new way to work

What are your thoughts? How do we get to a more efficient and satisfying way of communication. Your recommendations are more than welcome.

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