Recently someone found my blog post from last year about Enterprise Social platforms and asked for my opinion on which one they should select. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to be involved in this type of project, but is one I still think many organizations, albeit SMBs, colleges and universities or the largest of enterprises can benefit from. Of course since I fancy myself to be an aspiring architect I couldn’t really answer their questions because I don’t know their requirements. However, deciding on the right platform isn’t as hard as you might think.
What I would suggest any organization do to find the right platform will depend on several factors such as technical aptitude, willingness to adopt new technology, workflows for various departments and other required software integration’s. To get here, designate a person or persons as team leads to start understanding the different features of the applications available and within your budget. Next, ask the various departments within your organization for volunteers. Work with these people to understand how a social enterprise platform can help them solve a problem or improve current processes. Maybe a feature like document collaboration, or project management allows them to be better at what they do.
This actually helps accomplish two things, first it helps you understand the requirements of each department as well as get buy in on the platform from those departments which should help adoption because they will see it as a value versus just some new technology they are being told to use. These previous article may also be useful to help you get an understanding for how to kick off an enterprise social project.
One additional tip, don’t go rouge and just setup a free tool. While this may seem like a great idea, and it may even get a lot of people to sign up initially, it will likely fail to have adoption without a clear use case defined and proper training so people understand how to use the platform. I had a department do this during one of my projects, and the VP of that department was quite brash in pointing out how quickly people signed up, but within just a few days the number of people going back to the site dropped off to almost zero because no one understood what to do with the platform. People actually thanked me when I asked them to stop using it!
Social Media, love it or hate it, can actually be very use even if you just useful it as a learning tool. Right now, from a VMware community perspective, Twitter is pretty much the center of universe. However getting started on twitter can be a bit overhwelming. If you search for the term vmware on Twitter and look at all the users, you will find a mix of VMware official accounts for various groups and influential, smart, and sharing people affiliated with VMware and virtualization. You can find that search here: https://twitter.com/search?q=vmware&src=typd&mode=users – giving it an eyeball test you couldn’t go wrong following roughtly the first couple hundred users in that search, though you may chose to ignore some of the vendors or VMware specific accounts that don’t apply to you…then again maybe you could learn something from those!
While you can likely rely pretty well on the native Twitter clients, I certainly prefer their mobile apps over any of the 3rd party apps, I do like to use TweetDeck which is a web app they acquired that allows a multi-column layout. In it I have a column for everyone I follow, people who have interacted with me so I can respond and engage easily, a search column for any “vmware” related tweets (that gets a little spammy but I’ve found some cool things) and columns for specific accounts such as the VMware official KB account (@VMwareKB) and the PowerCLIBot account (@PowerCLIbot) which sends out various PowerCLI commands.
Lists are useful for finding people with similar interests, for example here is a list I have created which includes all of the #vBrownBag crew: https://twitter.com/jfrappier/vbrownbagcrew/members. List are useful both for finding people and viewing their activity. For example, I follow a little over 1000 people so keeping up with that stream of activity can be quite challenging, however I can see all activity from people I have added to a list. I could then add that list to a TweetDeck column for easy access. You can also subscribe to other peoples lists, for instance I subscribe to a vExpert list from Maish Saidel-Keesin (
although he apparently forgot to add me! For shame apparently I am and can’t read! Sorry Maish!). One of my favorite vendors, ClearPathSG, also publishes and maintains several great lists.
On Twitter, you will also find several podcasts and recordings from various members of the community like the #vBrownBag podcasts of course. Some of my other favorites include:
There are also great local meetups to be found to connect in person with other geeks, err VMware enthusiast…lets be realistic we are geeks and nerds. For example there are local VMUG groups such as the Toronto VMUG and Boston VMUG, other groups such as the VTUG or even vBeers meetups. My last tip is to follow the vendors you work with on a daily basis, and branch out into new news to see what they might have to offer. Vendors like Veeam, Unitrends, PernixData and Infinio are all very active.
If you do nothing else to start with, just sit back, watch and learn. The people on the various lists share a great deal of knowledge. I’d be shocked if you didn’t learn a few new things every day just from watching.
I will be presenting tonight on #BlurtCast about how you can leverage social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook or Google+ in your disaster recovery (dr) plan. As part of the presentation I will be discussing stats and lessons learned during a hurricane last summer where we leveraged social media for a basic communication channel with a very “non-social” employee base (i.e. very few (less than 5) employees had an existing Twitter account out of 200).
Recently I had the opportunity to discuss social enterprise platforms with Duane Craig at TechRepublic, a technology that interests me as much as virtualization (two pretty different things I know). I have been involved in several “internal social” platform projects and this was certainly a fun opportunity to discuss what I have learned and experienced over the years.
From the article:
When enterprises consider setting up their own social media networks, it’s to offer much more than just a place for idle chatter or a technological replacement for the watercooler. In fact, many people now think that using social processes within the business will be transformative across the enterprise. That’s because putting social into business processes leverages the untapped potential of employees, partners, and stakeholders, while also returning control of data to the brand and improving customer relationships.
Jonathan Frappier, director of technical operations at LightWire, Inc., and an independent consultant and blogger at VIRTXPERT, dove into the enterprise social media waters with one of the first companies he worked for when it built a web-based community for CIOs. Ever since then he’s advocated their use. Frappier says the variety of names being used to describe these enterprise social media efforts really only denote differences in complexities and at their hearts they’re all about new ways for people to have conversations, instead of relying on just email.
He cites the advantage of opening up communication to everyone in the organization, across all departments, and how empowering that can be for bringing in new perspectives and ideas. Other advantages he points to include:
- Creating a searchable knowledge base that everyone in the organization can benefit from even if they weren’t directly involved in the original conversations.
- Allowing companies to connect with their employees much like public social media allows individuals to do on the personal level.
- Offering a more modern document management system allowing collaboration on documents that used to be passed around in email or file sharing.
- Expanding business intelligence efforts so every document, and even perhaps conversations, are indexed.
You can read the full post at: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/social-media-in-the-enterprise/the-new-frontier-of-enterprise-social-media-networks/281