3 Things You Must Consider When Choosing An ESN

 This week I came across a blog post from Kinship enterprise on 9 key features they have identified for any enterprise social network. In brief, they highlight the importance of 9 rather good features of an enterprise social network platform, such as search, teams, tools and social engagement etc. Despite choosing features being one of the first things you may want to delve into, success in creating a rich and valuable space depends more than just choosing a technical partner and implementing the latest widgets. It requires a new way of thinking about your audience and about your business.

When organisations view enterprise social networks, merely as technology deployment, they often fail to recognise that the new relationships created by their enterprise social networks are the source for value creation. This result’s in initial enterprise wide adoption, that then dwindles.

As outlined in our Social Business Cookbook – which focuses on audience motivations and use cases over functionality – choosing the right tools (features) is very important and will make a huge difference to the chance of your social community being a success. Though, it is far from sensible to seek out a platform purely on the amount and the types of features within the platform.

It is important to note that there is no ‘one size fit’s all’ when it comes to choosing the right enterprise social network for your business, as every business has a different audience, with different motivations, and different goals. So, if you're in the market for an enterprise social network platform what guidelines should you follow? This post will share three key areas for consideration to help you make the right decision for your business.

4 Roads are exhibiting at the Simply Communicate Smile London event on the 9th November. Book your ticket and join us on our table discussion where Rob will be facilitating a discussion around this very topic.

Goals and Motivations

 All to often companies choose an enterprise social network based on technology features rather than determining their goals and how the platform will be of service to their audience. Different audience motivations give rise to different communications needs, and it is these needs that should determine the choice of functionality.

Be clear on your organisation’s goals and how an enterprise social network can achieve these goals by improving collaboration and/or communication. For example, you may want to improve customer relationships or, like We Are Social, share knowledge and distribute resource allocation globally, with an implementation of an internal community on the Telligent platform.

Additionally, goals and strategies change and adapt, and your enterprise social network solution should too. A key consideration in the evaluation process should be whether a platform can be configured or customised to reflect to your changing business goals, further down the line if required. 

Integration

Think about integration and how your existing business systems can – or can’t – integrate with the enterprise social platform. An enterprise social platform should become the fabric across existing platforms and add value as a result, rather than being another stand-alone platform, fueling the ‘siloed’ approach you should be steering away from with the adoption of an enterprise social network in the first place. After all, the whole point of using an enterprise social network is to minimise the amount of applications that need to be used to carry out your business. 

Be Mindful of Tomorrow

 Our advice would be to ‘keep it simple.’ What is right for your organisation today? You may find it beneficial to consider where the current barriers to communication are. You should choose the technology based on whether it does what you need it to – address these barriers and focus on the functionality which will help your audience meet their most important motivations. 

We suggest you get the basics under your belt, and then add more specialist tools if and when the need arises later – your enterprise social network should have the ability to grow with your business. As time progresses, it will become clear which additional tools are required, and you can easily switch them on then.

The bottom line is, enterprise social network features are important, but they shouldn’t be the basis of your choice. Instead, think strategically about how the software will address your challenges, he needs of your audience, and how it can scale.   

4 Roads are exhibiting at the Simply Communicate Smile London event on the 9th November. Book your ticket and join us on our table discussion where Rob will be facilitating a discussion around this very topic.

Alternatively, our blog is packed full of information and guidance on a range of topics, including the types of social communities available and more about choosing the right tools for your social community.