Despite their promise and potential, enterprise social networks (ESNs) have only received moderate traction. The problem is that most deployments are treated as technology deployments with a focus on adoption and usage. A different way to think about this is that enterprise social networks represent a new way to communicate and form relationships — and because of that, can bridge gaps.
Encourage sharing. Remember how revolutionary email was? It fundamentally changed the way we communicated by reducing the cost/effort and collapsing the time frame and scaling it to include multiple recipients. Social represents a fundamental change, simply because, at its essence, it encourages sharing.
Capture knowledge. Capturing the collective knowledge of an organization is a daunting task because it includes a wide range of facts, information, and skills gained through experience. Yet few people proactively sit down each day to document and capture their knowledge. ESNs provide an opportunity to do just that, by capturing glimpses of knowledge through profiles, activity streams, and interactions.
Enable action. Having an ESN in place means that operations and processes can begin to change as well. This happens when the day-to-day process changes because the ESN enables new relationships and behaviors that address a gap that prevented actions from being taken.
Empower employees. The last way ESNs drive value is that they empower and embolden people to speak up and join together, as well as gives them opportunities to contribute their skills and ideas.
(Via Altimeter Group)