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Summary

The enterprise social networking market is not what it once was. A couple of years ago Ovum analyzed 13 products and identified a common theme of “providing a Facebook for the enterprise.” Today, as the genre crosses over from visionary early adopters to the pragmatic early majority, vendors appear to be pointing their products in various different directions.

Finding the antidote for corporate dissonance and employee disengagement

Consider this question if you are a business leader: What percentage of employees are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace? Gallup’s US Employee Engagement survey (based on daily telephone interviews with 1,500 employees) currently places this figure at around 30%. To put it more bluntly, 70% of US workers are not engaged at work. This figure will of course vary from one organization to another, and even more so globally, but the business challenge is clear to see for those employers who dare to look.

Those familiar with Ovum’s research on the customer-adaptive enterprise will appreciate the link between workforce engagement and customer satisfaction. It is a matter of fact, not debate, that one begets the other. Management gurus point to a variety of reasons why employees fail to engage in the workplace, with one of the most fundamental issues being a lack of reason or purpose. As one climbs the organizational ladder this turns into “corporate dissonance,” a lack of common agreement or understanding of the organization’s vision and reason for being. The result: office politics and management fiefdoms.

To address these issues, business leaders need a medium to help them articulate their vision (the “why”) to managers, employees, investors, partners, and customers. Managers also need a medium that will help them better communicate mission instructions (the “how” and the “what”) to employees. To close the loop, employees clearly need a medium to provide feedback and insight from the field or frontline of the organization. The enterprise social network, in whatever form it might take, provides this.

Enterprise social networking products have adapted and evolved significantly over the last five years, especially when compared with the initial blueprint provided by Facebook et al. This reaffirms the notion that the world of work is very different to that of leisure. Acquisitions, mergers, and product realignments have changed the trajectory of many products in this market, yet most are still trying to find that perfect path; one that is able to unify enterprise communication, collaboration, ideation, and participation. Let it be known: there is no single, perfect path. Business and IT leaders should together look for a vendor approach that is in keeping with the size, nature, and maturity of the organization. Think of it as the “venue” for your “corporate performance”.

Appendix

Further reading

The Customer-Adaptive Imperative, IT0020-000091 (March 2015)

2015 ICT Enterprise Insights on Information Management, IT0014-002951 (November 2014)

2015 ICT Enterprise Insights on Enterprise Collaboration, IT0021-000039 (November 2014)

2015 Trends to Watch: Unified Communications, EI0016-000005 (October 2014)

Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting an Enterprise Social Networking Product, IT013-000213 (January 2014)

The Customer-Adaptive Future, IT015-001822 (December 2012)

Author

Richard Edwards, Principle Research Analyst, Enterprise Productivity & Mobility

richard.edwards@ovum.com

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