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Intranet Advent Day 12 – seven ways your ESN can be better than email

Intranet Advent Day 12 – seven ways your ESN can be better than email

12We’re counting down to Christmas with a stocking-filler tip every day.

Enterprise social networks (ESN) such as Yammer, Chatter and Tibbr have seen rapid growth in interest over the last two years, but Gartner has predicted that 80% of social business efforts will fail.

One hurdle is that not all employees greet them with enthusiasm, equating them with Facebook or asking “what’s wrong with using email?”.

Here are some answers – seven ways an enterprise social network trumps email.

  • Low time tax. ESNs reduce the overhead of message management. Every email comes with a cognitive load, to file, delete, reply, whereas ESN posts don’t need this processing, so they are easier to consume.
  • They skip the pleasantries. Given this first point, short messages are more appropriate. Compare to the number of emails just to agree a meeting date.
  • Low-key feedback. Likes offer a less demanding way of interacting, but still add value. Emails that just say ‘I agree’ would be tedious.
  • Open audience. Emails have ‘to’, ‘cc’, and ‘bcc’ fields loaded with implications. ESNs just post to an audience, so people can participate without an explicit thought process about who to include (although targeting groups and communities is possible).
  • Ambient awareness. There’s less expectation on any individual to participate, and no accumulating inbox, so it’s OK to miss some posts (yet well connected people can become ambiently aware of so much).
  • Social profiles. People data is usually richer than the ‘from’ field in email, so you have a stronger sense of contributor context.
  • Persistence. It’s much easier to go back to an old thread and resume the conversation than it is to pull out an old email. The linearity of the single mail inbox acts as a bottleneck.

Email definitely still has a role, we just need to make better choices about what to use when.

Check #intranetadvent for a fresh idea each day.

Sam Marshall

I'm the director of ClearBox Consulting, advising on intranet and digital workplace strategy, SharePoint and online collaboration. I've specialised in intranets and knowledge Management for over 19 years, working with organisations such as Unilever, Astra Zeneca, Akzo Nobel, Sony, Rio Tinto and Diageo. I was responsible for Unilever’s Global Portal Implementation, overseeing the roll-out of over 700 online communities to 90,000 people and consolidating several thousand intranets into a single system.

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