Cloud Workflow

Three changes caused by the introduction of Enterprise Social Networking

Enterprise Social Networking will gather 'Knowledge'. Enterprise Social Networking will make people get together. And ,,,Enterprise Social Networking will be the foundation of new Idea!

== 0. First of all what is “Enterprise Social networking”? ==

Everybody knows what a ‘Social Network Service’ is.
When we hear ‘Social Network Service’, we think about “Facebook”.

=== 0-1. If we talk about ‘Social Network Service’, we talk about “Facebook” ===

Facebook has increased its number of users since 2006, 1 billion people around the world are active users by the year 2012.

Although it stagnated (slightly declining tendency) more recently in Japan, still “10%” of the population is using it. When reaching this scale, the number will double in two or three years, unless something really extraordinary happens. (2 billion) It does not matter if you “like it or hate it” anymore. Similar examples are, ‘Email’ and ‘Mobile phones’. Or, the ‘Facsimile’ and ‘Telephone’ before them. It will become a tool for all human beings, despite personal preference. (Maybe it will only affect the use frequency?)
Facebook ユーザ数

When I registered on Facebook the first time (2008), I totally didn’t understand what was so good about it…
Honestly, I thought ‘No, I won’t use this, never (I even don’t know how to use it.)’
Then in 2010, the movie “The Social Network” was released!
And it was in May 2012, that the huge, unprecedented IPO (Initial Public Offering) took place, when I realized, me and people around me were using it. And well, yes, it’s convenient.

=== 0-2. Speaking of “Enterprise Social Networking”? ===

Then, what about ‘Enterprise Social Networking’???

You’ve never heard of it? You’ve never seen it?
Well, it could be so. Apart from people who work in IT industry,there is no reason for ordinary people to know about it. In fact, no entry about ‘Enterprise Social networking’ even exist on Wikipedia Japan.(The English Wikipedia link is HERE: Enterprise social networking

Well in short, ‘Enterprise Social networking’ is a kind of ‘Facebook that is closed to the people inside of a company’.
# Trying to use different words, it is like ‘an internal company chat’ or an ‘internal bulletin board’.

And this ‘Enterprise Social networking’,
I think, within two to three years, half of the Businesses will be using it
In other words, many companies will make their selections based on Enterprise Social networking and will apply for it within a year or two.


“In the future, every company will use Email”
“In the future, every company will be connected to the Internet”
20 years ago, I didn’t believe it at all, but now, we all use it.

=== 0-3. Impressions on Enterprise Social networking introduction ===

Logging in as soon as you get to the office!
At a company using “Enterprise Social networking” on a daily basis, all staff would do so.
Or, for people who love their job, would check ‘Enterprise Social networking’ on their Smartphones as soon as they wake up in the morning.

In 2009, we introduced a ‘Enterprise Social networking product’ called “Yammer” at Questetra Inc.’s Offices.
Even though the introduction was not well planned, workers began entering business information into the Enterprise Social networking, and checking business information in the ‘Timeline’ only after a month of its introduction. (By the way, “internal email” was reduced significantly.)
Moreover, “Likes” and “Comments” would be added to those posts. (In some cases, incorrect information will be corrected.)
I found it was a tool in which I could feel the “real-time in the workplace”, wherever and whenever necessary.

Yammer was established in 2008, and grew notably in North America among major companies. In Japan, it became famous in the IT industry, to give an example, Rakuten Group introduced it in 2011. It was acquired by Microsoft in 2012, and it works well together with SharePoint, a platform for document management.


== 1. Concerns about Enterprise Social Networking ==

I would like to about the three frequently asked questions regarding ESN here.

By the way, after two years since introducing “Yammer”, we have added an Enterprise Social networking feature to our own product “Questetra BPM Suite” since August 2011. (“Taskfeed”)
We developed it based on our own ‘dissatisfactions with Enterprise Social networking’ (mainly what we didn’t like about Chatter and Yammer). Since then, we have been taking full advantage of “Questetra’s Enterprise Social Networking feature” everyday. That means, we are not a user any more, but a vendor. Of course we are still keeping a close look at the many trends around Enterprise Social Networking products such as Yammer and Chatter.
I’ve said “dissatisfactions with Yammer”, but in fact, the main issue is the lack of “connectivity with the Workflow”. We wanted to solve the following issues. 1: We wanted to associate each post to the related affair. 2: We wanted to do “auto posting” at the completion of a processing. 3: We wanted to be able to “attach a URL link and files, directly”. I will explain these in detail another time.

=== 1-1. Nobody would read important information? ===

Indeed, unlike internal email, not everybody read “all” the posts in an Enterprise Social networking. Rather, they would read ‘the latest’ only. In other words, a lot of the information posted on the Enterprise Social networking, will be missed.
But if you think about it well, this is a good thing.
If we think about it, there is nothing more annoying than the “CC of internal e-mails”. Messages will come one after another, without considering the circumstances of the recipient. And these messages are mixed with the ones containing important information. Myself, I think I had been wasting my time ‘marking emails as read’ on 2-3 hundred emails. Even though, I assume, that could cause the occasional “I did CC you!” arguments. I think it is such a waste of time for everyone to read the information based on the thought that ‘something should be shared’ just in case. It is nothing but a waste of resources to “Share it with everyone just because I don’t know whom should I share it with.”

It’s extremely unreasonable to be unable to get important new information, or being unable to react quickly to new information just because we wasted time reading irrelevant one. That’s right, for a newspaper, when you get one today, you throw away yesterdays even though you did not read the whole thing.

=== 1-2. Wouldn’t it be filled with nonsense and jokes? ===

Indeed, there are ‘Meaningless posts’.
Rather, I try writing ‘Meaningless post’.

However, truly ‘Meaningless posts’ won’t get “Likes!” or “Comments”.
Conversely, whenever a discussion is being liked and commented, the topic would be displayed at the top because of its importance. When responding to a critical failure, or when handling complaints from an upset customer, for example, the corresponding posts are expected to gather advice company-wide. In other words, mass information is being written, and Enterprise Social networking displays and processes it in its own way.

The above means that Enterprise Social networking has a self-managed display function even when mass information is pouring in. ( In cases when discussion of an issue among several people is needed, Internal email is totally useless.)

=== 1-3. Won’t the information leak? ===

Indeed there will be many ‘Meaningless posts’.
And everybody “can access information outside their own Departments”.
Facebook posts, don’t have greetings at the top nor signature at the bottom. Just an avalanche of short comments that may as well be trolling.
However, Enterprise Social networking is a closed communication platform.
Whatever is posted will be closed inside the company after all. You should take that fact to relax and be friendly instead. And the heap of comments which seem like nonsense, would turn out to be a gold mine for enhanced searchability.


Using the tool for Gossip must be avoided completely.


== 2. Enterprise Social networking Market, Present and Future ==

“So, what kind of products are there?”

– Yammer, Chatter (, Connections (IBM)
– Talknote, AIRLY (GaiaX), SmartAmigo (UCHIDA YOKO ), CHITCHAT (blayn)…

In fact, Enterprise Social networking products are increasing.
Nevertheless, the current situation is, out of a market size (global software market) of a total of 15 trillion yen, investment in “Enterprise Social networking” is less than 1 percent. And I can say the Enterprise Social networking market(*) is in its dawn and still has room to compete at an Idea level. (* Speaking ad they do in Forrester Reports, Enterprise Social Networking, Enterprise Collaboration software market.)

For a detailed forecast, I would like you to check the articles by research companies where daily new findings are announced. Actually, some forecasts say it will grow ’10 times in 5 years’. Therefore, the ‘Enterprise Social networking market’, it seems, is definitely a rapidly growing market.


I often hear about “mastering” of the Enterprise Social networking product recently.
Although there are several theories, it can be said that a ‘smooth operational phase’ is when the number of posts per person become greater than ‘0.5 / day’ or ‘1 / week’. In some companies, they are even having 50 posting / day per person.
* By the way, in Questetra Inc., it is about ’10 postings / day’ per person (50 / week). (It’s basically business post only, but there is a tendency of increasing Recreational posts in the late hours…)


== 3. Purpose of Enterprise Social networking Introduction ==

In short…
Enterprise Social networking is meant for ‘being eavesdropped’.
Even Facebook and Twitter, they are meant for for being eavesdropped.

Well, ‘eavesdropping’ may have a bad meaning. However, Enterprise Social networking gives ‘communication that can be eavesdropped’ by all the staff in the company, whereas internal email is ‘private communication’. Even conversations taking place in other departments, will be able to be “eavesdropped” easily.

Yes…to put it differently, the company becomes clear.
So, as a result of becoming clear, what changes would come up?

Never post about IR or private matters! (I’m telling you.)

=== 3-1. Knowledge come Gathered ===

Posted information can be classified simply into two categories:
– “a. Transmission of information not seeking reply.”
– “b. Transmission of information seeking a reply.”

“Reports”, “Announcements” are “a. Transmission of information not seeking reply.” For example:
– ‘I got the order from the AAA Co.!’
– ‘BBB Co., the rival, launched the new product (+ URL)’
– ‘The Time of the meeting will be changed.’
– ‘I bought some snacks to share with all of you guys.’
– ‘I’ve missed the train, I’ll be late.’

And “Requests”, “Consultations” are “b. Transmission of information seeking a reply.” For example:
– ‘Please call back Mr. Ccc’
– ‘I found a typo in the Website. Fix it immediately!
– ‘Where can I find the documentation about DDD?’
– ‘Please review this sentences.’

They would get a reply very soon with Enterprise Social networking.
Even “Reports” or “Announcements”, which are “a. Transmission of information not seeking reply”, will get reactions too. And the reactions will be many. Internal email is very different from a “collaboration platform” in which people who have the time can contribute additional information and help solve problems.

# Looking back, I hardly could get answers to my internal emails as soon as I do with ESN.
It is alright when communicating with people outside the company.
But every day Internal communication is emphasized on speed. The faster, the better.

=== 3-2. Members get Together ===

The “Atmosphere of the company has improved”, “I feel that I can see the company”, “I feel closer to the Directors”
I wonder shat is that…
Though I cannot express it well…
Emails do not convey “personality”… But in daily Enterprise Social networking (chat), “personality” can be conveyed somehow.

Imagine how troublesome it is emailing a Salesman’s grumble.
‘The customer I visited today got mad at me, that was my mistake but…’ No way. Nobody would write such an email. There will be nobody to send it to. However, it is possible in short sentences (Tweets) on the way back to the office on the subway. Surely, colleagues (who have time) would react to it. That quickness can help him get up his feet. This kind of communication might help to brew teamwork.

=== 3-3. New Ideas come up ===

Information is important.
‘A College paper’ cannot be written without information on the Internet.
If you want to finish a “proposal for the customer”, you cannot do it without the use of knowledge on the Internet.

A new idea in fact, will come up by referring to ‘information already known’.
Indeed, there is noise in Enterprise Social networking. But at the same time, it is also a platform on which “internal information” is exposed in large quantities. Information that would not be available if it was in internal e-mails, and it is also posted willingly.

– Introducing XYZ to the customer AAA’s Co. was a good approach…
– I heard that Competing BBB Co. is launching a new product…
– Supplier CCC Co. seems to have gotten better earnings…

Enterprise Social networking is also a platform on which you can see and hear or search for fresh information which was undetected when using e-mail in the past.
If you could not search what you want to know directly, you had to guess ‘who could know about it’.


== 4. Changes by Introducing Enterprise Social networking ==

Conversations at party are different if you are sharing information on Facebook.
I think most of you would agree that, the conversations at a party used to start with ‘How have you been?’. But after Facebook, conversations begins with more specific questions such as ‘You seem to have had a really good time last weekend…’

And something similar happens in Enterprise Social Networking.
‘I guess something is wrong with the Proposal in that project…’
‘Be careful. Tomorrow you’re going to visit the company with which we had a trouble before…’

That is, timely and accurate communication will be available because you are now able to put each other’s information and flow it in the “small units”. In other words, communication will deepen

Change 1. Knowledge gathers massively.
Change 2. Workers be tightly connected
Change 3. New Ideas will come up one after another

I think Enterprise Social networking is ‘1: A place to share Know-how’ and ‘2, The foundation of Cultivating teamwork’ and ‘3, The foundation of ideas (Planning foundations of business plans)’.

By the way, I often hear about Enterprise Social Networking which hardly get any postings.
In such a cases, it is very important for the person directing it to actively encourage it. For managers in particular, it is better to think about ‘How to convey fun messages or giving help in fewer words’, and post to Enterprise Social networking everyday. It is better to understand in one tweet everyday, than be handed a thick annual plan document.


== Enterprise Social networking Feature of Questetra ==

“Questetra BPM suite”, a Cloud-based Workflow, includes “Enterprise Social networking Feature” by default.
Of course, by itself it’s a high-functioning Enterprise Social networking, but it’s biggest feature is its collaboration with Questetra’s Workflow. This is what it’s all about…
– The Process ID in the post is a link to the business data. (Level of Viewing Permission according to “Viewing authorizations”)
– The Process completion can be posted on the Timeline automatically.
– Mentions can be done not only for people but also for an entire section. (format: @ for person, % for group)
– Can attach URLs and files directly.


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About IMAMURA Genichi

CEO & Founder - Questetra, Inc. ||
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