Enterprise social media improves employee communication and makes collaboration easier. But ensuring seamless social media integration into an employee’s workflow is another story.
Employees use email and instant messaging, in addition to social networking sites like Twitter, to get their jobs done, but switching back and forth between disparate UC systems and social networking platforms can be time-consuming and slow social media adoption.
Vendors are now heeding the call with products that can integrate social media activity directly into an employees’ workflow.
Social media integration: channeling the fire hose of information
Adding conversations typically held on Twitter, or even enterprise social networking tools like Yammer or Salesforce’s Chatter with the productivity tools and UC platforms they use is the direction that UC vendors should be working toward, according to Henry Dewing, principal analyst at Forrester Research.
“With so many social media paths like TweetDeck, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, no one really wants to switch between all these feeds,” he said.
Social business software provider IGLOO recently announced a new enterprise microblogging application that can be integrated directly into the enterprises’ UC platform or corporate Intranet.
“Just like with Twitter, a popular tool in the consumer space, people are able to microblog their thoughts in real time,” said Andrew Dixon, vice president of marketing operations at IGLOO. “The microblogging application allows employees to have contextual microblogging right in their workflow for real-time communications.”
While stand-alone Twitter-like services offer a non-targeted feed of information, the IGLOO enterprise microblogging application is more customizable. Employees can publish a question or comment to specific colleagues or groups of colleagues via the application, eliminating the “fire hose of information” effect, Dixon said.
“By allowing employees to choose where information is published, the conversation will appear to the right people to whom the information is relevant to what they are working on,” he said.
Integrating a social layer to the collaboration platform is central to the greater enterprise social media trend, Dewing said. Salesforce added Chatter, a Facebook-style interface for corporate communication, and IBM's social business software Sametime has integrated with Polycom's REALPRESENCE platform. “I think the big trend right now is to give employees the ability to move less between different interfaces,” he said.
With the IGLOO enterprise microblogging application, communication can be done in one less window, “but getting down to one window for all social media feeds would be nirvana for the enterprise,” Dewing said.
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As social media has become a critical tool for employees to get their work done, it has sparked a prominent need for a dedicated space for event streaming and microblogging to live, Dewing said.
“Five years ago, an email client stayed up all day on an employee’s screen for corporate communication. Now, it’s the instant message client,” he said.
Better integration of social media into the enterprise workflow will become the industry norm, but right now vendors have just begun to scratch the surface, said Brad Shimmin, principle analyst for Current Analysis.
“IGLOO has architected their product in such a way that they can fit as needed from one company to another, and it all comes down to flexibility for the enterprise and really allowing that contextuality of communication to take place,” he said.
Enterprises will be looking for vendors that can handle different deployment options—including pure Software as a Service (SaaS)—and can work as a deconstructed offering in order to best fit into the corporate intranet or any other communication platform. Moving forward, products that act as a unifying repository for an employee’s UC stream and can integrate well with existing products will be essential, Shimmin said.
Boosting user adoption of social media is not about changing behaviors, Dixon said. “[An enterprise] cannot ask people to change their behavior, to stop using email and start using social tools for communication,” he said. “Instead, let’s build on what we are doing and using every day, and microblog more effectively.”
Enterprise microblogging, and applying communication directly into the context of where people are working is going to catch on with same vigor that email has, Dewing noted. “I think you are going to see enterprises five years from now wondering how they did without,” he said.
Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, News Writer.
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