The struggle has gone on for a decade or more: How can we give workers all the tools they need to collaborate efficiently without breaking the bank? Knowledge Center contributor J.B. Holston shows you how, using an enterprise social computing platform in your company, you can give workers all the tools they need, while reducing IT costs, controlling enterprise assets and watching business performance soar.
technology and the Internet mature, and as Generation Y floods the
workplace, workers expect e-mail, calendaring, file sharing, social
networking, knowledge management, expertise discovery, business
intelligence, blogging, wikis, RSS, photos, video, chat and more.
Progressive organizations typically try to provide these tools to
ensure workers receive the right information and the right contacts,
through the right channels at the right instant.
The trick, however, is providing these resources without spending
too much in licensing fees or deluging the IT staff with implementation
and administration burdens. One solution is a single, integrated social
computing platform that synthesizes all these applications and
functions into a "Facebook for the Enterprise" environment. With a
single social computing platform, organizations can reduce their IT
burden, licensing fees and operating costs-all while improving
They can also better maintain control of their people and brand by
keeping them on an enterprise social network versus consumer ones such
as Facebook or MySpace. Here are five ways a "Facebook for the
Enterprise" social computing platform does just that:
1. Less e-mail traffic
Aside from the burden of poring through e-mail, storing it typically
costs $447 per GB per year. A Fortune 100 manufacturing company we work
with estimates that reducing e-mail volume by merely one-half of one
percent saves the company more than $600,000 annually. And, by letting
employees interact in communities focused on work areas, conversation
is streamlined and content is deliberately shared in context-including
files that would formerly have been e-mail attachments. As a result, an
organization can eradicate a lot of e-mail, transfer more knowledge and
quickly pay off its enterprise social computing investment.
2. Reduced reliance on enterprise software
A comprehensive social computing platform is a natural environment
for executing many of the activities that take place in far more costly
customer relationship management (CRM), BI and human resources
applications. On an enterprise social network, activities can involve a
broader set of constituents working more organically around fresher
information to solve problems faster.
3. Easy application integration
Why should a bank, for example, go into its mainframe and code a
brittle alerting system to notify tellers of potential fraud when RSS
and XML-the heart of better social computing platforms-can take care of
it simply, cheaply and flexibly? Any information locked in high-cost
legacy systems, applications and proprietary databases can be unleashed
this way for easier consumption by the people who can benefit.
Traditional enterprise application integration is especially costly in
this era of perpetual restructuring, where it can take months and
millions of dollars to code integrations to e-mail systems from merging
4. Reduced printing costs
Organizations can significantly reduce costs of printing equipment,
supplies and maintenance by reducing printer usage, which turns out to
be a wonderful side effect of using RSS and social computing to build
or update a company portal. For example, one of our customers cut its
printing and toner budget by nearly two-thirds simply because employees
were able to view important content from their start pages. They no
longer had to drill deeply into disparate back-end systems to find and
print out their reports and other documents.
5. Simplifying life for HR
Enterprise social networks simplify life for HR in a couple of ways.
The first way is that they provide an environment attractive to
Generation Y candidates and the way they expect to work. 77 percent of
Millennials use social networking sites (which are brimming with
non-work distractions and security holes), 50 percent subscribe to more
than one social networking site, and a full 91 percent say newer,
innovative technologies in the workplace would make them more likely to
consider a potential job opportunity.
The second way enterprise social networks simplify life for HR is
that they capture important institutional knowledge as their best
workers retire. The enterprise social network also provides a support
system and safety net during layoffs that mitigates the morale problems
that ensue. Networking, on or offline, is by far the most common route
to a new job. 70 percent of workers found their current position this
way. With an enterprise social network, laid-off workers have a
fighting chance to land on their feet, which everyone appreciates.
These are just a few of the ways an integrated social computing
platform translates into hard cost savings for a company. There are
even more savings in publication subscriptions, travel and software
development. All this is good news because social computing is a fact
of life. It's coming. All computing will be social. Better to have it
happen in your enterprise environment and improve business performance
than lose control of your brand and people to places such as Facebook
J.B. Holston is President and CEO of NewsGator.
J.B. has run a wide range of technology and media enterprises over the
last two decades. As President of Ziff Davis International, Holston
managed Ziff Davis' operations across more than 100 countries, and
launched Yahoo! Europe. He was part of the senior management team that
led the successful LBO of ZD by Forstmann, Little, and subsequent sale
Since selling his last technology start-up, J.B. has helped
create a wide range of for-profit and not-for-profit entities,
including Media-x at Stanford, among several others. After receiving a
BA in creative writing from Stanford in 1979, he taught English at
Phillips Academy, worked as a consultant for the Boston Consulting
Group in Boston, studied and wrote in Paris, France, then worked in
strategic planning for NBC and RCA.
J.B. received his MBA from Stanford in 1986, then worked on Jack
Welch's staff at GE before moving back to NBC, where for five years he
was responsible for strategic planning and NBC's international
operations. He can be reached at JBH@newsgator.com.