In my last Biznology post, I suggested that Amazon would be a better model for your internal social platform than the obvious choice of Facebook. After all, Facebook plays a simple “eyeballs” game–the more people spend time on it, the better–while Amazon only realizes business value when actual financial transactions occur. If users are just browsing but not buying, Amazon would be in big trouble. Likewise, the success of your internal social business platform cannot be measured by simply counting number of users, page views or the amount of time your employees spend there. Read the remainder of this entry »
“This is just Facebook for the Enterprise” is the most common way most people describe enterprise social networking platforms. After all, the look and feel of those platforms borrow a lot from the Facebook interface: status updates, @mentioning, groups, walls, profile pictures, direct messages, and so on. However, when implementing a social networking platform at your workplace, you’ll soon find that the resemblance with Facebook pretty much stops there: even though the building blocks are very similar, the overall playbook is very different. If you are trying to find a reference to guide you through the journey of making your enterprise social networking successful, consider going back in the timeline 10 years before Facebook, and set your eyes on another Internet titan: Amazon.com. I kid you not: even though Amazon predated the whole Web 2.0 and online social networking concepts, their evolution from an online bookstore to become the world’s largest online retailer is a much better model for enterprise social platforms to follow. Read on to understand why.
The last 20 years have witnessed many success stories over the net: sites such as Yahoo!, Altavista, Geocities, AOL, Google, Amazon, WordPress, eBay, Hotmail, Wikipedia, MySpace, Flickr, Delicious, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Pinterest all had their days of glory. Some are still around, others fell into obsolescence, but each one of them changed the way users perceived and used the Internet. Vendors of enterprise software naturally followed suit and came up with a number of corporate solutions to mimic the capabilities of those popular online services. However, often the results observed inside the firewall were disappointing. Our corporate intranets are often uninteresting, inefficient and outdated, a pale shadow of the vibrant sites that keep popping up beyond our corporate boundaries. Why does that happen? If page-rank search, blogs, wikis, social networks and microblogging work so well out there, they should just thrive in the workplace too, but we now know for a fact that they often don’t. Understanding the reasons why Internet success is not easily reproduced in a corporate environment is the fundamental first step to change that pattern.
Is your internal social business platform shaping up to become just a slightly better intranet or a good-looking SharePoint site? Is most of your content held in private communities? Are your online conversations happening predominantly in the form of direct messages or private discussions? Are status updates an under-utilized resource in your organization? If that’s the way your social business platform is being rolled out, you may have unknowingly become a hostage of deeply ingrained mental models, shaped by the use of paper, email and shared files, or just became the last victim of the faster horse syndrome.