While our email inbox is a constant source of aggravation, it is nevertheless the communication devil we know and therefore social communication tools are finding it difficult to replace it, despite its glaring inefficiencies. Research reports are plentiful that document how unproductive email has become - for example, McKinsey’s reports that we spend up to 28 per cent of our working time simply managing our email. Along with it cluttering up the day, it is still quite inadequate at distributing the right information to the right people at the right time - even despite its mobility.
The failure of email to assist with meaningful productivity is a common theme. In its prime, email undoubtedly revolutionised both communication and collaboration in a world dominated by the telephone and fax machine - but that was decades ago. However, the same McKinsey report tells us that, if allowed to fulfil its potential, social business tools could inject at least 25 per cent additional productivity. The decrease in lost productivity (through reducing email) combined with the increase in productivity (through social communication) produces an interesting question as to why social business communication tools aren’t sufficiently inspiring companies to effectively leverage their potential.
In a useful article explaining the reasons why social technologies aren’t seeing rapid adoption within enterprises, digital workplace consultant Jane McConnell looks at how social technologies have been ineffectively deployed. The key point is that social technologies will only be appreciated from a business value point of view when they are adopted for ‘day to day working tasks’. Currently, many social collaboration tools are simply deployed as a type of overlay atop Intranets or IT systems that are designed for other purposes, such as timesheets or storage and publishing of information. These IT systems are often dated or cumbersome and so as ‘intranet-overlays’, social business technologies are relegated to an ancillary role. As a result they can be seen as adding a disruptive deluge of addition information to existing email and IT system communications (e.g. ongoing activity streams containing pointless information).
From an implementation point of view we need tools that centralise productivity in one place rather than generating a continuous stream of irrelevant information. For instance, Enterprise Social Networks provide advanced employee workspaces that consolidate tools such as knowledge management applications, task management features, calendar and event integrations, day-to-day workflow integrations, sophisticated activity stream filters and cross application search cataloguing all in one place. The combination of centralised and integrated tools leads to effective collaboration, communication and productivity - outcomes simply not possible with email or intranets that have been ‘made social’.
Enterprise Social Networks use modern social dynamics to disrupt emails status quo, making them far more productive and reducing the need to multi-task across multiple solutions that are not well integrated together.
Companies seeking greater productivity, collaboration and communication and who want to remove reliance on email should therefore be challenging their IT departments to consider deploying genuine social business tools instead of cobbled together social IT systems that don’t really solve modern business requirements.