Enterprise Social Networking has become quite a hot topic across many blogs, news sites and conferences. When done right, an ESN can catapult a business into a collaborative success. However, when it fails to meet business goals, it is sees as “nice to have”. To that end, I conducted a video interview Mycustomer.com, in which I covered a number of different points relating to the popularity of Enterprise Social Networks, how to identify and measure the value and making the change stick within your organisation. I’ve summarised some of the key points below.
How are your ESN initiatives doing against some of these critical success factors?
Why is there so much demand?
We’ve seen a huge take-up in Yammer’s service which is indicative of a strong demand, recently topping 5MM people registered via www.yammer.com.
One of the main reasons we think this demand exists is because people inherently want to make a difference at work, and this often requires them to make connections within the organisation that they might not be able to with the current information systems they have.
Whether it’s finding a document that they’d otherwise spend a week re-writing or connecting with someone that has the expertise they seek, ESN tools such as Yammer provide a way of making the resources of the organisation available to you when you need it.
We see our customers benefiting from this capability in a huge number of different ways, from enabling their sales teams to deliver faster, providing better customer service or on-boarding new employees faster.
This level of connectedness is also essential for businesses that need to adapt to a world where the rate of change is only ever increasing. Without being able to effectively marshal the resources at their disposal, organisations will find adaptation to be a challenge without tools such as ESN to provide these connections.
Who is driving the take up?
We see a wide range of stakeholders involved in ESN initiatives across our customer base. However, there are three stakeholders who are at the table in the majority of cases:
- The CIO is a key stakeholder in any ESN initiative. They will almost always have responsibility for the overall management of the service from a technical point of view and ensuring that it meets the relevant standards of the IT organisation. Tools like Yammer are also a fantastic way of CIO’s being able to demonstrate quick time to value and delivery of services that enable the business.
- The HR Director has a key role to play in terms of formulation of policies and governance for the use of the ESN capability, much as they did during the introduction of email and other forms of communication. As employee engagement is generally part of the HR remit there is also a direct HR benefit to the delivery of ESN as it is a great way of measuring and improving employee engagement.
- The Communications Director is very often part of the core ESN team. Recognising that the introduction of ESN represents a shift from one-way communication to a discussion with the people in your organisation is something that is of huge interest to the Internal Communications organisation and a source of real benefit for them.
How do I find the value?
ESN is a capability which gives your organisation the ability to more effectively draw on the people and resources it has. Given this, there are a wide number of areas where business value can be obtained. We advocate the following process:
- Analyse bottom-up: For those with existing free Yammer networks, the process for identifying value areas can be accelerated by analysing what is already happening. Often those who realise the potential value of the platform will gravitate towards it and will be demonstrating some behaviours that can be amplified or adapted for maximum business effect
- Filter through a top down view: Review what your organisation is looking to achieve strategically and marry the capability that Yammer provides to that. This will help demonstrate relevance to those who are most focused on company strategy. What we often find is that there are already activities that are going on within the Yammer network that directly support the strategy, but this activity allows you to consider whether more value can be delivered
How do I measure the value?
Given the breadth of potential benefits, there are a correspondingly wide set of measures which could be applied. Fortunately, the measures which often make the most sense are those which are already used within the organisation (such as sales metrics or employee engagement scores).
When measuring the value, our key advice would be to focus on the effect (e.g. the business result) rather than the cause (simply measuring uptake of a platform), as this will allow you then demonstrate value in terms that the business understands.
While core metrics such as uptake are important, having X people using a platform doesn’t mean that it is generating value for an organisation – if it did, then you could make a very reasonable case for installing bars in your offices!
Support your adoption metrics by also considering real business measures – for example, how many deals did your sales team do that made use of the ESN capability, and how many of those deals were accelerated (and by how much) as a result of the connections made via the ESN?
How do I make the change stick?
As with any new capability, adapting an organisation to make the most use of Yammer will take time, particularly if the organisation’s culture is not one that is conducive towards sharing of information and team working. There are a few critical success factors that we have seen work consistently at our customers, which are:
- Pick things that matter: Focus on processes that are core to how your organisation operates and explain how the capability Yammer provides can be directly relevant to making them more effective
- Gain executive sponsorship based on a business case that has been created around these core processes, and ensure that this sponsorship translates into active participation by the executives involved
- Communicate relevance rather than technology: Don’t treat this as a technology project but instead communicate to people why this is relevant to their day to day work and doesn’t add time to it. Put all your communications efforts into this as without the associated change in behaviour your ability to deliver business value will be limited
- Remove any technical barriers: Choose a platform that reduces the number of technical barriers to adopting the change in behaviour. If people have to think too hard about what button to press, they are unlikely to adapt to the new way of working.
- Put it where people work: Integrate the capability both into the business process and the tools people use every day. Technology like Yammer Embed can help hugely with this and has been shown to dramatically increase adoption, as the barrier to contribution is significantly reduced
Here at Yammer, the Customer Success team are always on hand to help you make your journey to ESN adoption a comfortable one. Our existing customers have an experienced guide to help them on the road to success, supported by a structured approach and access to the largest network of existing customers in the industry.