Communication between companies and customers has changed forever with the advent of social media. Social networking portals are interactive platforms where companies familiarize customers with their brand and employees for better relationships and meaningful engagement. New age enterprise applications must incorporate social into their functionality for mutually profitable interactions with customers, employees, and partners.
Facebook, Twitter and other popular social media networks are already being mined by enterprises to augment their CRM systems and build social profiles of customers. However, companies are now looking at social enterprise solutions that offer Facebook like advanatges along with security, privacy, administrative and analytical capabilities, and some regulatory control. According to Forrester Research, solutions on unified communications and collaboration will decline by 2014 while the market for social enterprise apps and related services will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 61% to become a $6.4 billion market in 2016. The inherent nature of social enterprise applications is being cited as the factor that will drive adoption across information workers.
Numerous leading companies are releasing social enterprise applications or incorporating social technology into existing solutions. Salesforce.com recently launched Salesforce Communities, a platform that lets companies create social networks with Facebook like features for employees to engage with customers, business partners, and peers. This category of apps typically offer full capabilities ranging from microblogs to social analytics, and integrate with popular enterprise applications and platforms to work as a social layer that evaluates and accesses all types of information within a company.
Advantages of social enterprise applications
Social networking functionality in enterprise apps lead to measurable gains that are already being experienced by seasoned users of solutions like Yammer (acquired by Microsoft),Chatter (acquired by Salesforce), and Jive. Some advantages of social enterprise applications are:
- Effective customer engagement and sales: Social platforms help you to better understand customers by creating a social profile that is very close to the real picture. You can also track leads and deals, and close sales.
- Efficient project management: Social interaction uses hash tags which can be searched. Project related interaction can be collated on one page and progress appraisal and reviews become a breeze. Other shortcuts such as tagging certain communication with symbols like ‘@’,’!’, etc., also streamline workflows and simplify communication.
- Transparent communication and ownership: By bringing teams to the same page, communication is open and transparent to team members and management. This creates accountability and eliminates email loops and redundancies. This kind of collaboration has helped Salesforce reduce emails by 30% and meetings by 27%.
- Recognition and rewards: Open collaboration reveals the experts to both teams and managers. The platform becomes a medium for learning, teaching, and improving the overall performance of teams. Leadership can ‘Like’ good ideas and appreciate members’ contribution.
- Better knowledge management and learning: Enterprise social apps use adaptive and social intelligence to recommend articles, videos, and other content to users based on their interests, connections, memberships, and suggestions to other users. This leads to knowledge sharing and training with employees understanding complex processes via videos (and sharing it with others), sharing digital assets, and more.
- Employee engagement: Social enterprise applications contribute highly to employee engagement as they engender team bonding, organizational commitment, alignment with business goals, recognition and appreciation, and belongingness. In turn, organizations see lower attrition.
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