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These days everyone knows what social media is, even if they don’t use it; but what about the adaptations of social media platforms being used for businesses internally? Social Networking is more known as things like Twitter, and Facebook, but the original digital social networking had started all with the email, which is frequently used by businesses already, particularly for employee communication. This is why it isn’t really any major shock that we have now adapted our web 2.0 features for businesses.
But how do these features really help a business? Everything with an enterprise social network is meant to be internal, so there aren’t any promotion or public relations going on with this kind of media platform. Instead you have things like micro blogs, following, likes, walls, and more with each employee within a single network that is made of your company exclusively.
This is starting to sound like something that is going to distract your employees more than anything, with silly updates and surfing images from their connections posting things up. Except that the social network is highly manageable and comes with the ability for employees to check each other with things that are out of focus. Plus you can only follow your co-workers or even connect with your co-workers through this platform, including your bosses.
So there is some internal quality control as the software itself can’t prevent people from doing certain things or posting various things, it can be restricted in some cases though, for things like external links outside of the network documents being used. This does help control things, but when it comes down to it, this still sounds like more of an additional problem than a fix for anything.
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The only way a company ever really moves forward is by how much innovation, time, and work are put into the company by those who work it. And it is with that first one that collaboration applications really shine through. True innovation only occurs when ideas are shared and expressed, and what are the best platforms for being able to share information these days? Social Media and other Web 2.0 areas. They provide the platform to be able to comment, share, edit, update and interact with all sorts of ideas that are expressed and through different means.
For a company, this allows everyone within the company to not only interact on the same level, but also provides a means of improving ideas that are shared. In essence the true weight of being able to collaborate with people in your company becomes possible, and best of all, it can be done with anyone anywhere.
It seems like a big push, but think in terms of social media, what kinds of things you could do with basic components of your company. You can share videos to your new employees that provide that base learning video many companies have, and then also direct your new people to a wiki that includes many questions previous new employees had asked after seeing those same videos, which were responded to by other employees. And this is just a simple expression of how this can be used.
Consider the realization of things like the document sharing that Google currently has with their docs system, and then add on a way to categorize and organize all those docs so that they only go out to people in certain groups, like if your company is broken into teams, you have your team 1 doc folder and so on, so that everyone has the documents they need that are updated in real time.
Or what about those cases where you have Human Resources issues, like sexual harassment? Well, using this social network platform allows everything to be completely recorded on the system and can’t just be deleted with ease.
And what about inter-office collaboration between different parts of a company like one that handles sales and another that deals with the production of a product? They have instant sharing access between each other, like video chats, instant messengers, the basic email, and even just simple things like ‘posting on the wall’ of a group that was created specifically for that project collaboration so everyone involved can see it.
All of this is simple and effective strategies of utilizing the social intranet, and it hardly scratches the surface of what is possible, yet already provide quite radical changes to the way a business would handle itself. And this kind of software is still evolving. Before long who knows where this kind of digital platform could take companies.
This article is contributed by Chad Chalifoux, who is a software engineer and has been working on providing better means of projectcollaboration software for various companies over the years.