Facebook’s Wake-Up Call for Jive and Enterprise Social Networks

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Last week Patrick O’Keefe invited me to be on his latest podcast for Community Signal. We’d been back and forth over twitter about my views on Facebook breaking into the enterprise social network (ESN) space and what this might mean for the other ESN players.

As you can expect I had a view, you can listen to the full interview on the community signal episode. I had said Facebook’s move into the ESN space “should act as a wake-up call to Jive that they need to put collaboration back at the heart of their product” I stand by my comments and my team and I are spending a lot of time talking about how we can work around the technology limitations to bring this energy back to our community.

But on the topic of Workplace by Facebook there is a lot of chat happening among those of us who’ve been in this space for a while. Sharon O’Dea shared this great article from Talk Social to Me, Making the Switch from Jive to Workplace by Facebook And she also wrote this article Facebook’s freebie suggests they don’t understand the enterprise. I can’t do their articles justice by trying to summarise them, so I highly recommend having a read.

I can clearly see the appeal. If I was starting over, would Workplace by Facebook be a serious contender? Maybe – but knowing what I know now about managing an ESN over a sustained period of time, in the same organisation I see their proposition through a different lens. I share Sharon’s view ‘selling enterprise social in is hard, because you need to get approval from any business unit that might be affected by its use – i.e. all of them. And that takes ages’. ESN vendors have anticipated and continually try to diversify their product to respond to all those decision makers needs. I think this is a MASSIVE fail. Working this way responds to the traditional organisational design, what I believe made ESN’s great is that they broke down those silos, they destroyed the layers of the organisation and drove collaboration like a steam roller through an organisation – WE NEED MORE OF THIS!!

To me it feels like the current big players aren’t listening to their customers and the new players are after a slice of the pie but don’t fully understand what that means. What is clear is the prize is big, according to the latest market report published by Persistence Market Research titled ‘Enterprise Social Networks and Online Communities Market: Global Industry Analysis and Forecast 2016-2026’ they predict ESNs and online communities will procure US$12.189mn by 2026. We are talking about some big numbers.

Jive were acquired in May for $462m they will sit under the Aurea portfolio, we await news on what this will mean for their customers and the product.

And last week there were multiple reports that Amazon and others are sniffing around Slack, Business Insider UK said ‘Amazon is one of several tech companies interested in acquiring the Slack chat platform’

Dion Hinchcliffe was not wrong when he wrote Why enterprise collaboration is exciting again the burst of innovation is interesting and the shifts in the big players is what gets me really excited. I’m looking forward to watching this space.

 

Choice, variety and back to basics…

This week we’ve had the pleasure of having a student on work experience join our team, she’s 16 and has just finished her GCSE’s. We had a coffee and a chat and I asked her what three apps she couldn’t live without, she listed Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Tumblr as her top three, this was in direct contrast to my cousin (age 14) who listed Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter a few weeks earlier when I asked her the same question. Snapchat is clearly the favourite of the moment. But where one listed facebook messenger as her most used app, for the other it was a no no with her friends and she favoured Instagram. Interestingly they both agreed Twitter was boring.

Our world is filled with no end of choice and variety, we have a never ending diversity of needs, interests and expectations. However when this plays out in the workplace it makes us unproductive and siloed.

When I first took on the role of Community Manager at Pearson my first challenge was to merge 136 intranets into our new Enterprise Social Network (ESN) fondly named Neo (powered by Jive). Our objective was to break down silos, create one source of truth and have one platform where we were all equal. Five years later Neo is going strong but i’m starting to see more collaboration tools enter the mix, teams and departments are starting to think about using other tools.

Now I’m hardly the digital Luddite, in fact I’m normally an early adopter but I just can’t help having this niggling feeling – introducing more tools is only going to exasperate the challenge and silo information and teams further. How much productivity do we lose just trying to figure all these new tools out? The resources needed to implement, engage and launch new platforms is immense, I should know i’ve been doing it for one platform for the last five years. What seems to be forgotten when we’re all excited about all the shiny whistles and bells the vendor is promising success relies on – PEOPLE. You can throw new technology, more apps, customised systems at a problem; but if you don’t tackle the behavioural change your tools will fail.

There will always be thousands of apps and tools being marketed at us to “simplify” our personal and work lives. How we respond and adapt to these changes will become our most useful skill at work and at home. However at work our goal is to add value to our business, before considering if we need another tool or another way of doing things, we should invest a little more time talking to our people and fully explore the tools we already have. Are we using them to their full advantage?

I’ve personally spent the last two months speaking to colleagues, learning about use cases, hosting focus groups and surveying our community. It has been enlightening i’ve realised 2015 is the year we strip Neo back to basics and revisit engaging our community with all that it has to offer, especially since we’re upgrading to the cloud this summer!

We have quite the task list and as I work my through our Neo Improvement Project I will happily share the experience here…