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Defining an enterprise strategy to reap social media benefits

In order to reap social media benefits, enterprises must define a social media strategy, which includes revisiting technology and security policies.

Social media is taking the world by storm and becoming an important business tool with many potential benefits. A social media program can also be used internally, for collaboration and idea sharing.

If your company is developing a social media strategy, your first move should be to make sure all of the key players from different departments discuss what that strategy should be. Usually IT takes the lead on assessing any networking issues that could impact the adoption of a social media program, including the use of software.

Social media benefits

Enterprise social media software can be used in many ways, including internal collaboration, low-cost marketing, responding to and addressing customers' comments, and providing customer service and sales assistance. It can help sales and service agents create relationships, understand customers' problems and build trust with customers and prospects. A social media program also offers the opportunity to assess competitors' strengths and weaknesses and helps sales reps generate leads and acquire important data about customers.

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Internally, social media tools, especially software, can be used to improve communications between business units and locations and prevent the loss of information. It also enables real-time communication and collaboration, like group project discussions, while improving productivity and the ability to share documents, archive knowledge and provide feedback.

Defining a social media strategy

Instead of making any unilateral decisions, key players from IT, marketing, HR, legal, product development and other departments should be involved in defining a strategy for deploying internal and/or external social media software. A team leader should also be appointed. Because software has so many social media uses, team members need to define how their departments will use it and create guidelines for employees.

IT needs to manage integrating social software into existing applications and business processes. Enterprise social software is a family of applications that may affect network performance. As it is integrated into existing systems, enterprise bandwidth requirements may increase. Employees won't use an application if it doesn't work smoothly, so gaining social media benefits is contingent on seamless network performance. IT infrastructure needs to scale up or down depending on usage and application demands; so, to offer a high-quality end-user experience, applications need appropriate bandwidth allocation, compute resources and policies. To make social media software work, IT departments need to consider the following:

  • Using WAN bandwidth optimization and management to prioritize traffic from the most important applications;
  • Ensuring low latency for applications delivered across the network. Latency should be monitored and measured to ensure acceptable performance;
  • Automating task management to pave the way for smooth performance;
  • Using application monitoring and load balancing to identify types of network traffic and dynamically configure network access and delivery; and
  • Developing security policies that address the growth of collaboration among employees, partners and customers to maintain security policies that ensure compliance and protect information.

Because most networks are not yet equipped to handle enterprise social networking, IT architects need to monitor and improve network resources to decrease latency, balance load requirements and provide suitable access control. The result will be a smooth and seamless enterprise social media program experience.

About the Author:
Karen Kervin is a senior research analyst at Nemertes Research, where she manages research projects, conducts and analyzes primary research, and advises many enterprise and vendor clients. Karen is responsible for benchmarking the adoption and use of emerging technologies in areas including VOIP, UC, video conferencing, social computing, collaboration and IP contact center. Kervin advises leading IT vendors and service providers on their product strategies and roadmaps. She also creates UC and network strategies, manages RFPs and provides directed IT advice for companies ranging from the Fortune 50 to the Fortune 2000.

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