Today business users spend one whole day per week on email. This is a staggering amount of time for a communication tool that is not meeting business needs and generates major inefficiencies.
Companies start to move away from using 50-year-old email technology as a primary way of internal communication. Employees increasingly see email as a symbol of information overload and inefficiency. For instance, Volkswagen has agreed to turn off emails to workers with BlackBerry devices outside working hours. Atos, the IT services company, decided to ban use of internal email among its 74,000 employees by 2014.
When it comes to knowledge sharing and collaboration, an enterprise social network (ESN) offers a far better way of business communication. Enabling a many-to-many communication, an ESN promotes sharing of relevant content and connecting with relevant individuals who can answer questions and solve problems faster than email can ever allow. Enterprise social networks solve email inefficiencies in four key ways:
- Email generates piles of low-relevance information. Enterprise social networks deliver relevant content to each individual. Social technologies are the best way to filter and manage information on the basis of employee’s connections, interests and actions. Employee can easily join relevant groups, add project colleagues and follow interesting broadcasters.
- Unlike email, the group and the status update functionality in social networks enable open and structured conversation, especially for someone jumping in the middle. Imagine an employee who has just joined a project and needs to get up to speed fairly fast. Enterprise social networks allow the employee to simply scan the news feed and comments from all project participants and get an idea of where the project is, what the main issues are and how they are being addressed. With email, all this information is lost in someone’s inbox and requires a lot of effort to collect.
- Enterprise social networks help to capture and reuse knowledge, which is commonly lost in endless email trails. Lew Platt, the old CEO of Hewlett-Packard said it right “If HP knew what HP knows, we’d be three times more productive”. When an employee leaves the organisation, most of their knowledge is lost in their inbox and inaccessible to successors. With enterprise social networks, the employee’s aggregated knowledge is easily accessible and searchable.
- Email doesn’t enable top management to listen to the voices of the organisation. Enterprise social networks allow top executives to feel the pulse of their company by simply tuning into the enterprise social network and seeing what conversations are taking place. Issues can be discovered fast and addressed in a timely manner, keeping the organisation’s morale high.
To keep up with the competition, companies need to recognise that enterprise social networking is an opportunity to tackle problems caused by email and drive efficiency. The mission is not to replace email, but rather lessen its use and adopt social technologies to foster sharing and collaboration. This is already happening. According to Gartner, by 2014 enterprise social networking will replace email as primary communication channel for 20% of business users. How do you see the use of enterprise social networks in your company?