We call it the “Eyebrow Moment”. The moment in our sales meetings when our prospect’s eyebrows suddenly rise. They don’t know they're doing it but we are working towards this point. This moment is important because it's when they start to appreciate that Enterprise Social Collaboration is a serious and robust business tool, not merely a “nice to have”.
We have been in the enterprise social networking industry for a while now and over the past couple years we've been overcoming what has been termed the “Yammer Effect”. To some extent, the popularity and awareness of Enterprise Social Networks can be attributed to this phenomenon; but for the most part they have been damaged by it. The “Eyebrow Moment” is when we know we have moved past the Yammer Effect and onto a legitimate business discussion.
Walter Adamson over at Kinship describes that “The Yammer Effect” is made up of 2 parts; the "wait and see" followed by "disillusionment as organic adoption muddles investment." This effect originated from Yammer’s original - pre-Microsoft - “stealth” sales strategy by which the free product virally proliferated throughout an organisation; un-authorised and informally until it is forced to be brought into formality by IT. As Walter says, at that point it comes under real business scrutiny as it is considered whether or not the product should be upgraded to a Pro (i.e. paid for) level and how it should be absorbed into established business processes. The question is asked, “what business value is this bringing?” and the answer is invariably, “we don’t know”.
At that moment, the potential for any Enterprise Social Collaboration Network within the organisation is damaged because the precedent for the nay-sayers has been set: “yeah we did that, it didn’t work.” The viral adoption process bypasses the required rigour that traditional software deployments undergo; there is no outcome, no metrics, no alignment with specific business processes, no ROI and literally no real business point. As it only exists for informal, ad hoc and under-the-radar conversations, it is the online equivalent of water-cooler chat.
So we tend to see the “eyebrow moment” come when - after a brief product overview - we walk our prospects through scenario examples demonstrating how Mumba Cloud can host processes and drive real business activity - backed with customer evidence to prove it. At that point, the understanding emerges that far from being some kind of corporate “bling” or virtual water-cooler, the Enterprise Social Network is a powerful and mature business tool that can deliver real productivity benefits, improved process outcomes and tangible ROI.
It's therefore time for businesses to move past the Yammer Effect, to seek more from social collaboration software and to move the conversation from the water-cooler to the meeting room.