When Enterprise and Social Collide: the future of collaboration

The way that we all collaborate at work is changing, just as the way that we all collaborate with our friends already has, and it’s all about social media.

Like many of my colleagues I use different social platforms in different ways: for me Facebook is for Friends and Family, Twitter is for Work and Arsenal and LinkedIn is for Work and Contacts. We all strike a slightly different balance, but as a rule most of us are now quite comfortable using social media for public collaboration whether work or personal.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Email has had its day, we all overloaded, slaves to our inboxes, Enter #social #collaboration tools” user=”billmew”]

There is another side to collaboration however, the less public kind – for example the collaboration that occurs behind closed doors at work, and that in most organisations, is still done via email. Many believe that email has had its day, not only are we all overloaded, slaves to our inboxes, they believe that in future we will all use social tools for collaboration at work instead. To this end companies like IBM, Microsoft and Jive have for years now been selling and enhancing their tools for workplace social collaboration. These are like Facebook, but for internal use.

If IDC is to be believed, then IBM is the leader in this space. It has made IBM its worldwide marketshare leader in enterprise social software for the fifth straight year. Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant on workplace social software also had IBM as a leader, along with Jive, Microsoft and Salesforce. The Forrester Wave for social depth platforms had Lithium, Jive, Acquia, Telligent as its leaders. Meanwhile IBM, EMC and Box were the leaders in Forrester’s File Sync and Share Wave.

Enter the real social giant, Facebook…

In January 2015 Facebook launched a pilot version of its Facebook at Work tool. It uses familiar Facebook features like the news feed, groups, messages and events, but has been designed purely for use within individual companies. Employees’ information is not be accessible to the outside world, including keeping it separate from their personal Facebook profiles.

The challenge for all social collaboration tools is adoption

The challenge for all such tools is adoption. Employees won’t move away from email until they have an alternative that is not only easy to use, but also provides immediate and obvious advantages. It is also a cultural thing. Unless you can change the culture of a firm and get enough staff to use a new tool, it won’t be of any value. After all in collaboration terms it’s no use having a phone if there’s hardly anyone else to call.

The traditional enterprise giants have the advantage of knowing the enterprise computing market, having an installed base and being able to integrate with their other corporate applications. Facebook however has the advantage that its tool is already familiar to almost everyone. It also is easy-to-use, secure and available on desktop and mobile devices, along with its complementary messaging tool, Work Chat.

[easy-tweet tweet=”In #collaboration terms it’s no use having a phone if there’s hardly anyone else to call” user=”BillMew” hashtags=”social”]


Case study:

iAdvize is a firm that provides a messaging platform that enables businesses to engage customers and prospects on their website and on social media from a single tool (Chat, Voice, Video). Its employees are only too familiar with social media and external collaboration. iAdvize was pre-selected to be one of the first companies in Europe to take part in the private beta of the ‘Facebook at Work’ solution before its official launch. In July 2015 it started using the solution, and it rapidly became the company’s number one internal communications tool.

More than 90% of its employees now use the business version of Facebook every day and generate an average of 1,000 interactions on a daily basis (posts, likes and comments).

Surveys is used to enable employees to gather their colleagues’ feedback on different topics. Watch group has become the best place to share articles, research and other resources about news and trends related to iAdvize’s market, and real-time customer engagement. As with Facebook hashtags and tags to people optimises the impact of posts. New staff at iAdvize can find all the information about the integration process and can also view the profiles of their new colleagues to work out who’s who! And Events is used to get people together for a talk, a meeting or a corporate event. Key statistics are as follows:

Key figures:

  • More than 90% of employees use ‘Facebook at Work’ every day
  • 75% of employees use the ‘Facebook at Work’ mobile app an average of 1,000 interactions a day
  • 113 groups have been created since the launch
  • iAdvize Team is the biggest group with 143 members the smallest is, unsurprisingly, The Matthieu group with 3 members on average, 5 events are created every month on ‘Facebook at Work’; international evenings, conferences, races, Movember events, the Christmas party and many more.

Examples of active groups:

  • Gong: where employees can share personal and team achievements with the rest of the company – a new client, a successful deployment, a product innovation, the launch of a communication campaign, etc.
  • 1 day, 1 customer: where employees post short customer success stories with a meaningful figure or fact.
  • The Genie’s tips: where anyone can share good deals – a great restaurant, a baby-sitter, an idea for a gift, etc.
  • Newbies: where newcomers can find all the necessary information to help them through the first days/weeks/months (integration process, practical questions, etc.).
  • Product News: where you can find out about all product evolutions and innovations.
  • The Genie Running team: where runners can organise lunchtime runs and plan group participations in official races.


In another recent blog “Expansion: up, down, left, right, forward or back – which way is best? we look at the six strategies that companies can use for expansion. The fifth of these “climbing the product stack” requires you not only to understand your own clients, but to understand their clients as well, which is not as easy as it sounds. Google tried to do this when it launched its own social platform, and we all know Google+ wasn’t the success that had been hoped for.

If Facebook gets things right with Facebook at Work, as it appears to be doing, then the corporate technology players in the market will need to look out.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Corporate technology players in the market will need to look out if #FacebookatWork is as good as it seems” user=”billmew”]


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