Aussie panel group talks enterprise social network usage at Yammer on Tour

Panel group discussed some of the ways they are using enterprise social networks in their organisations, how to facilitate engagement

How can organisations really get value in terms of usage out of enterprise social networks?

A panel discussion group at the recent Yammer on Tour event in Sydney discussed the different ways their organisations are using enterprise social networks (ESN) and how to engage the organisation into the network.

The panel discussion group included Aristocrat IT strategy manager, Joe Robens, AMP director of innovation and social business, Annalie Killian, Westfield director of shopping centre management, Andy Hedges, and Earth Hour chief executive officer, Andy Ridley.

One of the ways the panel group are using ESN in their organisations is not only to enable people to communicate at the business level but to also allow them to interact socially within an organisation. Majority of the panel agreed that in their organisations, employees are using the network to interact socially more so than only for business.

Artistocrat’s Joe Robens said that social use of ESN helps the communications team quickly obtain information within the business and among employees. “[For] social [use] I would say we still probably have more than 80 per cent cut. But this is comes from good news stories that the comms team probably would of never found out about or would have had a hard time getting a hold of in time. Probably 20 per cent [is] driving our more business-related comms to our SharePoint depository,” he said.

Earth Hour’s Andy Ridley, however, found that his organisation purely uses ESN for business purposes. “I would say right now on Earth Hour, 100 per cent [is] operational. There is no social going on,” he said.

In engaging the organisation into the network, Robens pointed out that it is important to have the business executives involved in the network to help facilitate the engagement. “Our CEO is on [the network] posting at least hopefully once a week and sometimes multiple times in a week, sometimes multiple comments or likes throughout a day, just kind of reminding them about it and that gets people reinvigorated about it” he said.

AMP’s Annalie Killian added that using ESN to give staff recognition also drives the engagement. “I think that in organisations, particularly large organisations, it can be very difficult to be noticed and recognition is probably the glue that keeps most people or gets people engaged,” she said. “If you can, use it as a way of giving people recognition for good work, and that’s another fabulous engagement strategy.”

Another point that the panel group discussed was about justifying the investment in ESN. Westfield’s Andy Hedges said that the value that comes from its usage is not something that can necessarily be measured.

“We don’t have to justify the investment we spend in email [and] we don’t have to justify the investment we spend in telephones so why should we have to do the same in this case?” he said. “The payback I truly believe is almost immeasurable because it’s little sparks that occur in conversations that lead to income streams, that lead to cost savings, there’s a whole host of things that occur as a consequence of that.”

Robens also added to this point: “I didn’t want to ramp up some traditional business 1.0 sales pitch for the executives. I felt as though it wasn’t a multi-million dollar global project that needed a steering committee — it was a no brainer.

“Everyone that got involved was basically just proving the need for it.”

Robens also suggested that organisations need to consider ESN for not only meeting the communication needs within organisations but also to stay ahead of what the competition may be doing in terms of innovation and work processes.

“It’s about major disruption and change. It’s about changing your organisation. I guess the shock reality is that if you’re not doing that in your organisation or somebody isn’t doing that in your organisation, it’s just an amount of time before your competitors are going to do it and they’re going to get that value, that major disruption and change in their business that pushes them in front of you,” Robens said.

“This is the future of how organisations will operate.”

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Follow Rebecca Merrett on Twitter: @Rebecca_Merrett

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