Effective enterprise social networking with Office 365

Many organizations that are moving to, or have recently adopted Office 365 are excited to have the opportunity to launch, or expand, a social network. In practice, few actually know what this means, where to start and how to get started with an effective enterprise social network.

Enterprise social networking in Office 365

Put simply enterprise social networking is the provision of an internal platform that enables individual and group connectivity for finding, sharing, and developing knowledge that helps the members of the organization. Microsoft have pedigree in this area and have been recognized by Gartner as a Leader in their Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace for seven years straight.

Office 365 offers many different social and collaboration tools that are included as part of the suite including Yammer. Microsoft proudly state that this popular tool is already in use by 85 percent of the Fortune 500, and yet the vast majority of the numerous organizations that I talk with have not seriously engaged with this concept. They are yet to realize the value of working with greater transparency and inclusiveness, and do not truly understand the ROI it can generate, or digital transformation it can bring about.

Enterprise social plays a vital role as part of digital transformation

In a session hosted at the recent Microsoft Ignite conference entitled Talk to your C-suite about Yammer David Thodey, the former-CEO of Telstra (Australia’s telco with ~38,000 employees), said:

“The nature of work has changed. Collaboration is a necessity, not a nice-to-have. We had to change, and Yammer is a tool for facilitating significant change.”

It is a very valuable session that I recommend others watch to gain insight and understanding on how the appropriate implementation of an enterprise social network played a part in enacting significant change in an organization that in turn helped lift their previously languishing share price to record highs within four short years.

What is effective and practical enterprise social networking?

Enterprise social networking has well and truly moved from only playing a role in fast innovating organizations to becoming main-stream in just a few years, no doubt assisted by the relentless rise in the popularity of consumer focused social tools. Well-conceived social intranet features empower staff to make the fluid, dynamic connections and relationships throughout their organization that allows them to work smarter.

At Unily what we've learned from our experience in enterprise social is that the effectiveness of social networks is directly correlated to the integration into user’s normal day-to-day flow. This importance of deep integration of a company's social networking is the reason why our complete digital workplace solution intranet platform has Yammer at the core and it seamlessly embedded to allow frictionless social, that is without any effort or change required in their typical workday behavior.

“The effectiveness of social networks is directly correlated to the integration into the user’s normal day-to-day flow.”

For that reason, within Unily social capabilities are threaded throughout the experience for real-time interaction, including user profiles, the people directory, events, polls, surveys and embedded within various types of sites. If someone has a comment or a query they want to get involved at that point in-time quickly and simpler in a manner that reflects their experiences in the consumer world.

Employees can still view the company Yammer feeds as well as specific groups you belong to from a single location. Like and share stories and follow people that interest you.

A recent Microsoft announcement revealed that Yammer’s future lies with tighter integration with the wider Office 365 toolset including Office 365 Groups, this change will allow Yammer users to “easily turn ideas into action with access to SharePoint sites and document repositories, a shared OneNote notebook, and lightweight task management with Planner.” This is yet further validation that successful implementations of enterprise social need to be fully integrated into the digital workplace and collaboration environment and not standalone to be adopted and considered successful.

Where can you go from here?

With the combination of our extensive experience in developing corporate intranets and the success of our intranet-as-a-service product Unily, knows how to deliver real business value and ensuring that the adoption of social intranet tools provides results. Uniquely, no other company has managed to win the Nielsen Norman Intranet Design Annual as many times as our amazing team (four of the past five years including 2016), and demonstrated such consistent results.

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Raconteur has just released a special report published in The Times that examines why cultural change is the key to emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic with a more empowered workforce. A technology spotlight casts intranets as “the perfect way to keep company culture intact”, with one of our travel and tourism clients receiving special recognition.

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