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Is Facebook at Work Just Adding to the Noise?

Published by MarTech Advisor

David Keane, CEO and founder from bigtincan explores the value of enterprises adopting ‘Facebook at Work’ and similar social platforms as collaborative tools to gain a competitive edge in employee engagement and advocacy.

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Facebook is busy signing up big business for its new enterprise version of the social network, Facebook at Work. Big-name companies like Heineken and real estate firm Century 21 are on the list of nearly 300 businesses that are using the new enterprise solution, which is still in a freemium business model.

Facebook at Work is the company’s attempt to enter the enterprise collaboration market, one that’s becoming oversaturated with point solutions like Yammer and Slack. The issue is that, for most companies and employees, it’s one more social collaboration tool to add to the already unwieldy enterprise toolbox. Yes, social networking-style approaches resonate with the millennial generation, but these tools don’t solve the information overload issue employees are facing. We’re creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, much of it unstructured. For marketers, this data, which appears as content scattered throughout various repositories, can be a nightmare.

The concern is well founded. If tools like Facebook at Work, Slack, Jive and Yammer, to name a few, are part of a fragmented approach to collaboration, they’ll only contribute to the noise and leave marketers drowning in information that is also stuck in seemingly impenetrable siloes. The crux of the problem lies with ownership. With social collaboration tools, the engine behind the tool is the busy employee – it requires users to post content and knowledge into it, or it doesn’t work. Yet, relying on everyday employees to keep the engine running is a recipe for failure. With workers operating in separate and isolated environments and sharing myriad content types across multiple messaging applications and email, it’s all too easy for critical knowledge to get lost or stuck in even deeper siloes than before.

Which brings us to the second facet of the problem—adoption. With so many platforms, devices and applications to choose from, there’s no way that every employee is going to adopt every tool at their disposal. This can lead to dramatic discrepancies between popular and less-familiar apps. Thus, it is imperative that companies provide a way for employees to access an integrated solution that collates all of their interactions and content across all of those applications in one place. When employees invest time into engaging with one another on a platform like Facebook at Work that lives in a silo, those ideas and content remain separated and impossible to re-use. Instead, by integrating solutions that work in sync, companies can help employees to succeed by making the most of their time.

The fact is, if companies don’t integrate their collaboration tools, enact intelligent search functions for content and push relevant content to their employees where and when they need it – they’ll fail.

There are a few key steps that will help companies to truly enable enterprise collaboration:

  • Integrate collaboration tools: The first step to integrating collaboration tools is streamlining content repositories. Employees need one, central location to access content. And, that location must be accessible to all employees, so that they can access the content they need, anytime, anywhere, and from any device (including on mobile devices, both online and offline). With one repository, employees won’t need to waste cycles searching for and developing content that already exists.
  • Enact intelligent search functions: The primitive search paradigm does not suffice anymore. Instead, users need a multi-dimensional analysis about what content is needed for each user in each situation. While keywords, meta tags and time periods are all useful, search intelligence adds the data driven insights that users need to access relevant content. Most importantly, context is the key pillar to intelligent search. By applying attributes like knowledge, information, data, association and dates to content, workers can access content that’s relevant and appropriate to their needs. For instance, when a sales rep makes an appointment with a customer, the calendar invite could contain up-to-date information from his or her LinkedIn profile or blog.
  • Push relevant content: In today’s rapid-paced, always-on society, workers, especially those in the field, are struggling with the “mobile moment of need.” Think of a sales person, who may have five minutes with a prospective client to sell their product. If that prospect asks a question or wants to see a specific piece of collateral, that sales person has just seconds to find that information, or the business could be lost. Asking your mobile workers to dig through a traditional file and folder system is impractical and potentially detrimental to business. Instead, content must be pushed and not pulled – it’s a result of the consumerization of IT. Workers who are used to pushed content—e.g. application notifications—on their personal devices, want and expect that functionality to carry over into the enterprise.

As social collaboration platforms increasingly become a part of the workplace tool kit, it is up to companies to ensure that employees are not overwhelmed with too many tools and no single tool belt. To ensure workers are getting the most out of offerings like Facebook at Work, integration must be approached as more than a nice to have, it must be recognized and embraced as a competitive advantage and a business imperative.

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