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Facebook Workplace jolts enterprise collaboration but misses point of next-gen social

By December 5, 2016Article

The landscape for enterprise social just got more interesting with Facebook’s recent launch of “Workplace,” a tool the company says brings the most popular attributes of its consumer network to the workplace. The company touts its ability to help people around the world, who work in different ways, to “stay connected.” 

At face value, it may sound plausible. It builds on the success of Facebook’s vast consumer network with tools, features and functionalities that are familiar to millions of employees – and which they would presumably embrace in the enterprise. It also seems to make sense in today’s business environment, which is more globally and geographically dispersed than ever before. So, the concept of staying in touch, sharing ideas and working though problems from the convenience of a smartphone may sound innovative, even business critical. 

However, Facebook’s Workplace, and many other popular enterprise social platforms such as Yammer, Jive, Slack and others, will fall painfully short in reaching their full potential – and in tapping the immeasurable potential of social in the workplace. Here’s why. 

Enterprise social is about influence and buy-in, not necessarily about collaboration 

Results of an original survey we conducted earlier this year found that a lack of employee “buy-in” was blamed for failed technology initiatives. In fact, 52 percent of respondents cited “slow” or “reluctant” adoption from end users. Amazingly, fewer than eight percent of respondents said technology initiatives fail due to the technology itself. In other words, how well and to what extent employees embrace new ideas will determine whether initiatives succeed or fail. 

Initiative success is not based on how well employees from remote areas of the world were able to share information on a new product. This type of collaboration is also important, but there are plenty of ways to share information to accomplish such tasks. There are far fewer ways for management to understand where teams are breaking down and almost no ways for business leaders to use enterprise social forums to course correct, engage and motivate. 

The truth is many C-level executives are highly deficient when it comes to engaging and inspiring employees on social forums, and leaders often do a terrible job making sure everyone is on the same page and properly motivated. In 2017, the market is going to an increased reliance on enterprise social in the workplace and a renewed effort to harness “social” as a means of achieving organizational alignment. 

4 enterprise social predictions for 2017 

1. C-level execs will begin to embrace enterprise social as a management tool.

In today’s globally distributed and increasingly millennial-dominated workforce, social will become the preferred method of communication. Smart executives will consider how this new channel can be leveraged for competitive advantage. 

2. Enterprise social as a means of workplace collaboration will fail to prove its real value.

The market for basic collaboration tools is robust. While there may be incremental improvements in file sharing technology and ways to connect with co-workers in the year ahead, it’s more important that companies embrace social as more than a channel to get work done. Companies will start to realize that enterprise social communication has become the norm for a modern workforce and smart managers will harness the technology and the medium as means of engaging and inspiring. 

3. Enterprise social will become more actionable for the workplace.

In a consumer environment, social tools are entertaining and keep users connected. As these tools are further adapted and refined for a business environment, they will be fundamentally different than their consumer counterparts. It will be critical that organizations distinguish between meaningful social interactions and just “social noise.” We’re going to see some new breakthrough solutions that are tailored to the workplace. 

4. Every CEO will become a “social CEO.”

Most CEOs understand that social media has become a powerful means of communication, but many have remained hesitant to embrace the channel to engage with and influence employees and partners.  We’re going to see activity pick up considerably in 2017. 

Brian Anderson is chief marketing officer at POPin. He has over 25 years of global marketing experience in technology, business to business and business to consumer markets. He has a proven track record of success in branding, revenue growth, M&A, IPO, as well as multiple key marketing disciplines.