Until recently, I would have argued there’s no business case for social enterprise apps. What was so innovative about replicating popular social networking functionality in the business environment? How would this translate into return on investment?
But then I talked to some corporate Yammer, Chatter and Jive users, all of whom discovered really innovative applications for using these platforms. These uses have enabled their teams to claim measurable gains in a variety of areas. Here are six inventive ways your company can derive value from social enterprise applications.
1. Streamline Project Management
Software developers at PerkStreet Financial use Yammer as an innovative medium for managing projects. They use the platform to facilitate scrum meetings, a key component of the agile software development methodology. Rather than hold their daily morning standup meetings in person, each member of the 37-person team posts “what I did yesterday,” “what I will do today” and “barriers to moving forward” using the hashtag #scrum.
The tag allows users to quickly see what everyone is working on and chime in when appropriate. The poster can also delegate tasks to others with the “@” symbol. With Jive, users can also employ shortcuts such as an “!” to pull information into the thread from CRM and other enterprise systems.
2. Augment Transparency and Accountability
Socialized business platforms have also created an entirely new venue for corporate communications. Since PerkStreet hosts all conversations on Yammer rather than trapped in someone’s inbox, management has continuous insight into the team’s progress. This also prevents work duplication and redundancies because everyone is literally on the same page.
“If you look at someone’s scrum over time, you can see whether they actually accomplished what they said they were going to,” PerkStreet COO Jason Henrichs notes.
3. Find Experts Faster
Centerstance Inc. Managing Partner Greg Lueck says Chatter helps sales staff answer deal-specific questions expeditiously. He recalled one situation where a partner needed someone certified in Cast Iron software integration who spoke Mandarin. The resource manager working with the partner posted the query in Centerstance’s news feed.
“They had an answer within 30 seconds… in Mandarin,” Lueck remembers. In this and similar scenarios, the employee would have otherwise “relied on a central repository of all company’s experience that is located in one person’s head, or nowhere at all.”
4. Leverage Insights
Social enterprise vendors have invested heavily in social and adaptive intelligence. These sophisticated algorithms suggest articles, files and experts based on the user’s position, connections, group memberships and resources they’ve previously accessed.
“Chatter knows what you care about based on your activities, making it’s value immeasurable,” King says of Chatter, the salesforce.com social layer. As a result, employees are better informed and can answer questions before they even know they have them.
“Imagine you have 10,000 people in an enterprise. Sales materials, RFPs are constantly flowing through system… Jive makes the most of this information by channeling it to the right people,” according to Jive Product Marketing Director Tim Zonca.
5. Generate Better Ideas
Yammer provides several means for employees to contribute ideas–from responding to queries and surveys, to posting ideas in a group discussion threads. Users receive gratification when co-workers and leadership “like” their contribution. Then, they are continually rewarded as they watch project teams bring the idea to fruition.
With one advertising campaign, for example, Deloitte CEO Peter Williams asked employees for their ideas for a tagline. More than 38 groups formed that submitted 1,184 original concepts.
6. Boost Employee Recognition and Engagement
In the four years since Deloitte AU implemented Yammer, the turnover rate for active users has fallen to two percent annually–about 10 times less than for employees who don’t use it. Leadership attribute change to employees feeling more engaged and recognized for their work.
“In a company with 180,000 people, most employees rarely interact with leadership,” says Frank Farrall, national leader for Deloitte Australia’s Online Consulting Practice. “Yammer breaks down those barriers.”
Deloitte leadership uses Yammer to pull reports that identify employees with high engagement and positive feedback. The more a user interacts with groups, downloads articles and responds to queries with the same keywords, the more they are distinguished as thought leaders on a subject.
“This is one key way to rise up in the firm–to get recognized as someone who drives connectivity,” Farrall added.
These apps aren’t perfect–several companies responded to this story saying the platform was more “of a distraction” than a value driver. They cited issues with file sharing, inefficient search, lack of customization, and bugs with mobile functionality. Even so, interest continues to grow as companies come up with new and innovative ways to apply the software.
Research for this article was provided by Software Advice.
image credit: kaltura.org
Ashley Furness is a CRM Market Analyst at Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Currently, her research focuses on various topics related to CRM software, sales, customer service and marketing strategy.