Mobile ESNs: What can go wrong?


Mobile Enterprise Social Network implementations are wrapped up in the same dismal usage statistics that plague ESNs. Even if initial adoption surges, recent research by the Altimeter group cited by Charlene Li paints a rather sad picture of technological failure.


Why the failure? There are a host of reasons:

Who is driving the effort? Does the enterprise social network reside solely in the hands of the IT department? When IT is the driver of the corporate ESN, you can bet that everyone in IT will know how to use the technology, but what are the chances that anyone else will? What level of engagement does corporate communications have with the ESN? Or for that matter, if the company has a team dedicated to external social media advertising and brand management, how are those team members being leveraged to drive the internal social network?

Why was the company ESN implemented? What kind of research was done to identify use case scenarios? How is the ESN connected to business objectives? It is not unknown for companies to implement an ESN, simply because it comes as part of an enterprise software package. Small wonder, then, when employees see no reason to engage with the ESN, either at their desks or in mobile implementations.

Are leaders engaged? Leadership participation is crucial to success. When top executives don’t see collaboration and engagement as a good use of their time, employees quickly learn that they shouldn’t either.

Finally, have employees received any training? Companies cannot just roll out an enterprise social network, and expect employees to know what to do with it. Just because employees know how to use Facebook or Twitter doesn’t mean they will know how or why to use the company ESN.

It’s a no-brainer that enterprise social networks can be a big lever in improving employee engagement, internal communication, learning, productivity, sales effectiveness etc. But employees need to know how to use the tools, have a clear reason for using them, and top executives must lead the way.

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