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Enterprise Social Network Killer App: Content is Next-to-Worthless Without Context

Enterprise Social Network Killer App: Content is Next-to-Worthless Without Context

“Content is King” is the refrain we are always taught, but content is next-to-worthless without context. The way organisations have stored and managed their content has traditionally been quite poor at providing the context needed to understand it and in so many ways context is the “Killer App” that an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) can bring to an organisation’s knowledge.

We all know how starting a new job can often be like attempting to solve an NCIS murder mystery. The best repository of context for your new role has just walked out the door and taken all their corporate knowledge you need to do your job with them. Piecing together how all the various files documents and emails you now have access to - which is not always everything you need for that matter - is a classic investigative mission fit for agent Gibbs and his team! Your effectiveness as an employee or manager is hamstrung from the outset and in this respect one hand is tied behind your back.

We are now seeing that a key aspect of delivering Return on Investment (ROI) for an Enterprise Social Network is the context around an organisation’s Intellectual Property (IP). Traditional systems provide only one accessible dimension of context - two at most. Here are the THREE dimensions that ESNs provide:

  • Tags - intuitive Tagging systems within ESNs mean that each piece of content is easily cross-referenced to other related content. This doesn’t involve laborious and flawed searching through folders or drives but is simply one click away and is silo or application-agnostic. Filling in gaps around documents, files or conversations can be done quickly to understand all the various components and implications.

  • People - content is inherently interwoven with the people to whom it is relevant, and as a result ESNs quickly introduce not just the owners of documents, but also its stakeholders and the wider groups and teams with an interest in it. Follow up discussions with those people are easy to achieve to get a wider understanding if necessary - but usually this is right there on the page because of…

  • Conversations - we have written before about how very often the most valuable source of IP within an organisation is buried in the unstructured discussion that takes place in email. Not so within in an ESN - the content is embedded within the conversations around it as an object in a way that is searchable, chronological and accessible.


In fact you could say Enterprise Social Networks bring to content the kind of context that forensic science has brought to murder investigations. Much of the mystery is solved because the information you need is accessible and tangible instead of buried in the minds of the chief suspects. Indeed, those very suspects are self-nominated and transparent. This kind of context gives a three-dimensional picture of any piece of information meaning less time is spent trying to understand something, and more can be devoted to execution around it.

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