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Twilight Recap: The case for an enterprise social network

Katy Sweetman, Intergen’s Communications Manager, presented our latest Twilight providing some useful insight on the value of enterprise social networks (ESN). She also offered a sneak peak of Intergen’s use of Yammer to help achieve a smarter, more collaborative workplace.

Intergen's iconic yellow challenge

Yammer took our ‘Iconic Yellow Challenge’ to a whole new level.


Katy outlined that 40% of large enterprises will have an ESN by 2015 and 41% of people believe their company should be investing more in social. Knowledge is power, and like many organisations breaking down communication barriers, getting information in real time, improving culture and collaboration helps make this goal a reality. An ESN is one way to make this happen. As Andrew Carnegie, a famous industrialist once said more than 100 years ago:

“The only irreplaceable capital an organisation possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it.”

We also had a sneak peek look at our ESN (Yammer) and how it helps us achieve a smarter, more collaborative workplace. Intergen signed up to Yammer in 2008, and, as Katy points out, usage doesn’t always happen overnight. And to be successful, everyone needs to be on board, especially your leadership team. 80% of our staff now use Yammer and our Intergenites say it opens up the workplace, creates an unheirarchical forum and softens geographical boundaries (see slide 8 for more detail). The image above is a recent example of how Yammer helped take our ‘Iconic Yellow Challenge’ to a whole new level – it was originally a challenge that came from Intergen’s leadership team via email, but it quickly shifted onto Yammer, resulting in over 50 posts from staff of their yellow trinkets and discoveries.  

Research from Forrester’s Total Economic Report found that organisations that use an ESN have 25% time savings, 65% find answers more quickly, but Katy confirms that often the true value of an ESN lies in what happens outside of that conversation, and that’s often something you can’t track.


Here are Katy’s 10 top tips when it comes to building an Enterprise Social Network

  1. It’s about relationships, not technology. Sure there’s technology involved, but it’s the least important part of the equation.
  2. Get executives involved. ESNs work best if leaders are present, and part of conversations.
  3. Have champions. Get people involved. It’s viral. Success comes down to how well people have invested in it.
  4. Silence doesn’t equal failure. Still waters run deep, as the expression goes.
  5. You don’t need to regulate. People will regulate themselves (especially if they know the boss is in on the conversation or reading it).
  6. Business is personal. Accept the blurred lines between the two. Trying to keep them separate will create a world of headaches, and in taking that stance you’re undoubtedly missing out on opportunities.
  7. Listen. Do the thing your primary school teacher always told you to do. Help. If you have information, share it freely. Contribute. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but what you give you will get back – it’s amazing what people will give of themselves freely if they see a need for it.
  8. Harness your organisation’s “cognitive surplus – think Andrew Carnegie and Clay Shirky. There’s an untold power of untapped potential and knowledge, and how we use it will help define our success.
  9. Think connections and three dimensions. It’s easy to get bogged down in our own worlds of work. Everyone is time-poor
  10. Rather than ROI, think value. Set out strategic objectives, and gaps to close, and link these to Yammer progress. 


Intranets also offer a good foundation to build connectedness and ESNs aren’t going to replace intranets (despite many claims to the contrary). Katy makes it clear they are two distinct channels – although will soon be coexisting when SharePoint 2013 arrives – and there is a time and a place for both structured and unstructured data. Overall, Katy concludes: “Social media and ESNs aren’t an island unto themselves – they’re one part of the picture and help to deliver a connected message. You’ve got to be in to win.”


Please find Katy’s presentation slides below:



Below are some useful resources that may be of interest if you are thinking about adopting an ESN or are current users.



IBM CEO Study 2012

Altimeter Report: Making the Business Case for Enterprise Social Networks

Ideas Shop’s Internal Communications in New Zealand Report 2011 


Related articles:

USA Today: Social media tools can boost productivity

Forbes: The benefits of Enterprise Social Media

ZDNet: Assessing the business benefits of social business

MyCustomer.com: Social business metrics: measuring success of social in the enterprise

IT World: Top 5 business benefits of social enterprise tools

Social Enterprise Today: 12 features of supporting social collaboration in the workplace


Posted by: Rose Harris, Marketing Assistant | 15 October 2012


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