I was reading an
interesting article in the Financial Times this morning
(registration required) about the fact that Facebook is apparently
developing a corporate version called “Facebook at work”.
It got me thinking, as I spend most of my professional time now
convincing corporates that that they should be using an enterprise
social network to collaborate, would I use (and trust) Facebook for
my enterprise collaboration?
There are a number of existing enterprise-grade social networks
such as IBM’s own IBM Connections (free
trial here), Microsoft’s Yammer, Salesforce’s Chatter, and Jive.
All of these existing solutions offer a variety of features,
from full file-sharing, document management and collaboration,
through to communities, and real-time chat.
Many of these solutions can be hosted in the cloud, and some can
also be hosted securely “on premise”, providing CIOs peace of mind
that sensitive corporate data is secure on the company’s own
Now I’ve got my corporate social network, what
The issue I find my clients struggle with, regardless of the
platform is how do you drive adoption? It is all very well to
have rolled out a brand new corporate social network, but you need
users to actually want to use it – and this requires a
Cultural change is hard, so how do you encourage people to
change their behaviour and share what they are doing?
My view of how we will treat the value of collaboration in the
future can be summed up in one line:
“In the future, your value to an organisation won’t
be what you know, it will be what you share.”
The analogy I use all the time with clients and at conferences
“..ten (or 20) years ago, If I said to you that you had to carry
a piece of plastic (a mobile phone) with you everywhere you went,
and be available for calls on the weekend, you probably would have
asked me what additional pay I would receive as a result”.
The thing is, in 2014. when we join a new company, one of the
first things we ask about is our mobile phone. We need to get
corporate social networks to the same “mobile phone” moment where
everyone is asking about access to the network, and if we took it
away, there would be a riot.
How would you separate Facebook from
So back to the
FT article, where they hint that the new Facebook network is
aimed to compete with existing networks such as LinkedIn and Google
I am not sure I would want to use the same network for both
personal and business use, and given Facebook is driven by
advertising, could we be assured that I would not see
advertisements for the latest top secret deal I am working on
alongside my posts?
I am also not sure that a FB@Work would compete directly with
networks such as LinkedIn.
LinkedIn woks well as a directory of contacts, and also surfaces
great business-related content from my contacts.
While I am sure LinkedIn is looking at how they might expand the
site beyond being an excellent directory, the issue of adoption
remains, and this is of course where companies such as IBM excel at
taking an existing network, and developing processes to ensure they
are properly adopted.
How do you become a social organisation?
Below you can see a video
that explains how IBM Interactive Experience social collaboration
experts designed a program and process to help 320,000 Tesco
Colleagues communicate, collaborate and reward great work in
real-time right across the country using Yammer.
In the words of Alison Horner, the Group Personnel Director:
“How do we make a big business feel smaller?”
What we did at Tesco was a year-long project and required more
than just training people on how to use the platform, as in every
implementation, the focus needs to be on the cultural changes, not
just the technology. This will be something I focus on in an
upcoming blog post.
I will be watching how the FB@Work progress progresses, and see
if larger, more risk-averse organisations take to it, or it remains
the “free” model for small and medium companies.
What are your views – could Facebook make the jump to becoming
your company’s internal social network? Please leave me a comment
below or Tweet @AndrewGrill