Architecture in Internal Social Networking

UC Unplugged

Architecture in Internal Social Networking

By Mike Sheridan, EVP, Worlwide Sales  |  July 23, 2012

This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

Between my Linked In groups, Facebook friends, and Twitter (News - Alert) tags, I don’t lack for social connections. I’ve previously written about the great power of social networks, and what they can potentially mean to a business. But there’s certainly a challenge in understanding a company’s needs and how to address those needs from an architecture perspective. We are constantly overwhelmed with news and information, but how do I take both internal and external information that exists and make it relevant to my business, to my role? How do I manage all of this information, make sense of it all and most importantly, trust it?

Most people today learn about new subjects or topics though self-directed study and having those a-ha moments. Wouldn’t it be great to have a single collection point where you could get information relevant to what you need to do your job? To be effective, portals that integrate social networking capabilities, metadata tagging and enterprise search are key. One communications firm, Fleishman-Hillard, recognized that within its line of business there was a wealth of knowledge – it just needed to identified and from there, be shared.Fleishman-Hillard recognized that employees use whatever technology they feel will make their jobs easier. But having no control or processes makes this extremely difficult for IT and managers to manage, especially as clients want to feel comfortable that their information isn’t being exposed or misused. The firm observed that its employees opted for other community-building tools and often took part in online discussion groups, blogs, and other networking venues. Internally, the informal nature of these tools, and the networking capabilities they provide, could help employees find and share information quickly.

There is also the question of how to find and leverage skills that employees have. Who is the subject matter expert who could help with a specific project? Fleishman-Hillard saw that there was a wealth of trusted information that can be shared and showcase employee’s skills and experience. They saw this as an opportunity to create a customizable dashboard that identifies a range of employees from across the firm’s network and displays their skills and experience. Fleishman-Hillard continues to explore new ways to leverage its existing architecture through the use of social avenues and unified communications to provide a unique and effective user and end user experience, continuously providing corporate responsibility guidance and expertise.

So in this instance, social networking integrated to business processes continues to benefit the organization. It’s not by luck that it is experiencing success, because it asked those questions and acted on them. Have you asked or raised questions like this?

Mike Sheridan is executive vice president of worldwide sales with Aspect (News - Alert) (

Edited by Stefania Viscusi