Enterprise social networks here to stay: Salesforce

The enterprise space is getting more comfortable with social networking tools for internal communication and collaboration, according to the software-as-a-service provider's Marketing Cloud product director Derek Laney.

Using intranets and emails for collaboration and workflow management within an enterprise will be a thing of the past, as organisations are warming up the idea of internal social networks, according to Salesforce Marketing Cloud product director Derek Laney.

The consumerisation of IT means that employees are increasingly expecting technology that they use in their personal time for work purposes. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) has picked up for that reason and now, influenced by social media, businesses are seeing the value in implementing an enterprise social network to share information and manage workflows across their companies, Laney said.

"What I've seen in the creation of enterprise workflow systems is that companies spend 12 months building these beautiful process diagrams, but when it comes to the actual implementation, it doesn't work very well," he told ZDNet. "Often, what you get is at, say, step two of the workflow, the person at that point will call the person from step one to have a conversation, because there's data missing or the process has actually changed."

Even oil giant Caltex Australia is looking to introduce social engagement tools into its business.

"That will probably be the next big thing for us," Caltex Australia CIO Steve Fox told ZDNet earlier this month.

The benefit of using an enterprise social network is that employees are able see disparate information across the company aggregated through a single feed in real-time so that they can see the bigger picture and take action if they need to, according to Laney.

Laney admitted that many companies are still relying on old intranet strategies to drive these kinds of collaboration.

"The struggle with that is a lot of those infrastructures were created for a different time," Laney said. "There was a time when you created a standard operating procedure, then you put it on the intranet, and that was great because everybody could find it there.

"But now that information is out of date, and staff want to know what is the latest information and who they have to interact with."

US-based General Electric is a Salesforce Chatter enterprise social network customer and has been able to see customer data all through a social feed. The company has also connected machines such as jet engines to the feed so that information on their maintenance needs can be seen in real-time.

The social feed can be customised so that groups within the company can break off into a different conversation through Chatter and discuss work detail among themselves.

Laney said that Salesforce customers that use enterprise social networks have reported increased business efficiency, and this will drive uptake of the technology.

"For them, it's not a social network product; it's a business app, an expense app, or a marketing app that just happens to use enterprise social network as the way to bring people together to get the work done," he said.