De-Siloing Social Software


Human beings are social by nature.  And why shouldn’t the software that people use at work support that inherent social inclination? It can – if it is intrinsic in the way that they actually work.

To date, many initial social endeavors from software providers have included a Facebook-like page through which employees can recognize, comment, or share with each other, either bolted on to another application or stand-alone, the latter requiring an annoying extra sign-on by the user.

Now, however, providers are scrambling to provide value by creating enterprise social software that can drive business results throughout the organization. To do so, it is more of a platform underlying applications than a separate glued-on application itself. When integrated, the value touted by vendors may actually come to pass and transform how business people connect, engage and transact with customers, colleagues and partners. –[for further reading, see Stacia Sherman Garr’s blog Performance Management As a Part of Daily Life: Changes the Game posted on Friday, September 21, 2012, which looks at integrating social technologies in performance management.]

In the consumer world, we have seen Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter messaging beginning to surpass email as a form of communication.  Business is catching up: McKinsey&Company surveyed 4,200 companies around the globe and found that 70% used social technology in some way at work and of those 90% reported seeing some degree of business benefit. (McKinsey&Company. The Social Economy, 2012).
But how might a social-based solution prove useful at work?  We have seen it already in the rapid rise of social sourcing in the hiring process, using social networking media to engage prospective candidates where they “hang out.”  Customer communities have supported work-arounds and “how to’s” and provided product feedback to vendors for a decade now.  Today’s marketing and customer service organizations use social technologies to engage with customers to increase brand loyalty, manage reputational risks and capitalize on opportunities.

Does Social Technology Impact HCM?

There are other ways to deploy social technology at work today, ways that directly address employees.  One is to look at ways to increase employee efficiency.  According to PayScale, (The Salary Reporter, 2012) , employees spend 30 minutes a day searching for documents, costing businesses $3,900 per employee each year in productivity losses. Asking teammates where something is and instantly getting a response can alleviate that waste and the ensuing frustration. The collaboration facilitated through social sharing and communication very likely contributes to the McKinsey findings of business benefit.

Use of social media in onboarding and in learning –key human capital management concerns–is increasing as new hires are introduced to their teammates and begin business and social discussions even before the first day on the job. Social is becoming embedded in learning solutions to allow shared learning, collect feedback, and provide just-in-time instruction that is context sensitive. Another area to consider the oft-hazy area of engagement, where the theory of increased engagement via social media has yet to be proven.

IDC expects worldwide enterprise social software applications revenue to grow at a CAGR of 42.4% (Source: IDC Worldwide Social Software 2012-2016 Forecast). Such applications are becoming too widespread to be ignored. As an underpinning to HR and employee self-service applications, learning management and onboarding, solutions that eliminate social silos have to potential to drive real business results.

Christa Degnan Manning

Christa Degnan Manning leads Bersin by Deloitte’s Technology & Tools research. In this role, she collaborates with Bersin and Deloitte colleagues across practices to identify and analyze software and service providers that support and sustain success in human resources, workforce enablement, and organizational effectiveness. Christa’s research and advisory work helps businesses align their workforce support strategies with the right third-party software and service partners and governance models to deliver functional capabilities and employee experiences that support productivity, engagement, and workforce efficiency. She also helps solution providers map their capabilities and go-to-market activities with solution buyers’ and users’ critical needs. Christa draws on more than two decades of business-to-business market research, operational leadership, and global workforce experience. She holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard College, Columbia University, including studies at University College, University of London. Christa also has completed on-going executive education coursework in business metrics at Wharton, University of Pennsylvania.

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