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May 2010 | Volume 13 / Number 5
Integrator’s Corner

The Enterprise Value of Social Networks

Online social networking is exploding. In February, Facebook (News - Alert) announced 400 million users, surging past Yahoo as the No. 2 most popular site in the U.S. And, in just a three-year period, Twitter reports that tweets have grown from a mere 5,000 per day in 2007 to an estimated 50 million tweets today. Access to social networks via mobile browsers also is growing, with Facebook reporting a 112 percent increase and Twitter 347 percent.

So with the meteoric rise of social networks, it’s no surprise that employees increasingly are expecting to see and use this familiar concept from inside their workplaces. However, while this may be a challenge to CIOs and CTOs concerned with security and privacy issues and the risks associated with public social networks, new enterprise social software, or ESS, is making it possible for companies to leverage the benefits and potential of social networking applications behind the protection of their own firewalls. As a result, many companies now are realizing the business value these networks provide as an enterprise collaboration and communication tool.

With the adoption of ESS, companies can create communities around expertise, business processes and technologies, share knowledge, quickly find expertise, and accelerate decision making. Creating blogs can enable employees to share information without overloading e-mail inboxes. Employee profiles can include pictures, expertise tags, current project listing, and can be synced with the corporate directory. In addition, activity feeds can be implemented that provide team members real-time project updates reducing the need for formal communication methods. And a mobile and/or remote workforce can use ESS to stay better connected to headquarters and quickly find expertise within the organization.

As more forward-looking companies consider adding social networks to their intranets, they are realizing their value and the positive impact they can have on the bottom line through increased productivity and efficiency. As a result, enterprise social networks are seen as a competitive advantage that can help drive innovation, tighter process integration, and increased collaboration. IT

Jeremy Chapman is unified communications product manager at Forsythe Technologies (

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