Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Social Tools for the Workplace

McKinsey's "Ten 10 Enabled Trends for the Decade Ahead" forecasted the high potential for technology innovations to increase business collaborations in social realms. As an example, it mentioned global IT company Atos who implemented an 18 month role out to a no email policy in 2011. Atos planned to eliminate email in favor of social media tools. The basis for this change was a ORSE study that found email could actually hurt the productivity of a company's workforce. It takes a worker an average 64 seconds to get back on track after reading a pointless email [1]. These emails are not limited just spam, which accounted for about 18% of Atos email [2], but also emails such as newsletters, unnecessary cc emails, and chain emails. Multiply that by Atos's nearly 80,000 workers and the amount of high proportion of useless emails a worker receives each day and it is easy to understand why CEO Thierry Breton was interested in eliminating company email.

What is notable here is that Breton is nearly 60 years old. We typically think of the push towards social media as something that would only appeal to and make sense to young adults. For example, the health care organization I interned with this summer had a Yammer site it promoted to Generation Y employees.  It did not intend to have Yammer replace its email service instead Yammer was essentially an "internal LinkedIn" where employees could connect with their peers, share interesting articles, and learn of upcoming company or industry events. While Yammer did have capabilities for sharing files and resources for projects, they were rarely used to their full potential by the company.

Nationwide Insurance, on the other hand, did find away to fully exploit Yammer's sharing abilities. The company developed Spot, a social platform that integrated Yammer with Microsoft Sharepoint (a powerful sharing and archiving application). Spot saves Nationwide over $1 million dollars annually [3] and significantly increased the collaborative efforts of the company.

With the stories such as Nationwide and Atos and the looming trend identified by McKinsey, it seems as though the new money maker in social media will be corporate-focused social media tools. This would be an untapped, blue ocean market that would likely pay very well. However we have yet to see tech entrepreneurs fulfill this unmet need instead favoring smartphone social media applications such as Vine and Snapchat. Perhaps this is due to the large amount of resources a corporate application would demand (security regulations, full integration with MS Office, personnel for a help desk, etc.) as opposed to a simple social media app. If this is the case, why has a power player like Facebook not considered diversifying its services and reaping the profits of corporate social media?

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/tykiisel/2011/11/30/ceo-bans-email/
[2] http://atos.net/en-us/home/we-are/zero-email.html
[3] http://techcrunch.com/2012/06/25/its-official-microsoft-confirms-it-has-acquired-yammer-for-1-2-billion-in-cash/

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