Guest Blog by Jennifer Smith
It’s no secret that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have found tremendous enthusiasm among businesses and enterprises. With Facebook, a company can freely advertise and conduct focus group research. It can draw traffic to a website and effectively engage with a loyal consumer base. It can create communication opportunities between employees, partners, and affiliates.
Many businesses have, in fact, embraced social media to such a degree that they seek to implement a social networking platform of their own. These internal social networks are accessible only to employees and include message boards, profile pages, file sharing software, and private communication applications – not dissimilar from a public social media system.
Internal social networks offer numerous collaboration benefits for the average enterprise. They allow for quick, fluid, and constant communication, thereby making it easier for employees to coordinate at all times. They encourage feedback, proposals, and ideas from all workers, thus opening the door for innovation in any shape or form. They furthermore integrate well with cloud computing platforms and allow files to be shared and transmitted in a secure manner. And, finally, they can contribute to the culture and sense of community that a company seeks to foster. Instead of having to stand near the water cooler or sit around in conference chairs, employees can feel integrated even when removed from the office.
There are two main concerns that prevent many managers from implementing an internal network. First, implementation difficulties and security challenges stand to pose headaches even after adoption occurs. Second, it is often feared that employees, when given access to an internal social network, will only become less productive during the workday as a result. Both of these concerns ultimately boil down to money, as business decisions usually do. Are the costs of installing and maintaining the system worth those peripheral benefits – benefits that may only be offset by productivity losses in the first place?
While this question is a valid one, it is likely that these concerns will only continue to diminish in the future. When internal social networks integrate further with cloud computing software, businesses will increasingly view the joint security and implementation costs to be worthwhile ones. When social networking becomes an even more dominant business tool, companies will more and more often realise that collaboration between employees is just as important as communication between consumers. And in this manner, the challenges posed by internal networks will – slowly but surely – be surmounted and overcome.