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Enterprise Social Network (ESN)
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Enterprise Social Network (ESN) software

An Enterprise Social Network is a collaborative platform similar to an intranet 2.0, which brings together communities of employees, customers and partners of a company within the same tool to facilitate information sharing and interactions.

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Professional group
Collaboration
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Accounting & Finance
IT Services
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Technology
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Category
Enterprise Social Network (ESN)
Enterprise Social Network (ESN)
Collaborative Platform
Electronic Signature
Document Management System
Task Management
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Virtual Data Room (VDR)
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Enterprise Social Network (ESN): purchase guide

What is an Enterprise Social Network?

Definition

An Enterprise Social Network (ESN) is a digital collaboration platform that allows employees and partners of a company to form communities to communicate and collaborate effectively. 

Enterprise social networking opens up channels of access to individuals and information adapted to it. More than a simple working tool, the ESN is an internal communication tool for organizations with a collaborative dimension. Today, it is a cornerstone of digital transformation.

The ESN is often perceived as a Social Intranet that replaces the Intranet and the Enterprise Extranet 1.0 such as Sharepoint or Drupal. However, it should not be confused with a "professional network" such as Linkedin, which is a networking platform only (ESN is a corporate communication tool above all). Almost 80% of large companies have implemented a ESN.

How do Enterprise Social Networks work?

An Enterprise Social Network is a computer program hosted in a public cloud (datacenter) or a private cloud (internal managed servers) and accessible via a web browser. It is made up of an applicative ecosystem that includes the internal communication features that are found in social networks such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter (content sharing, likes, comments, user profile, instant messaging) with collaborative tools (document sharing, skills research, task management, project management, ideation, knowledge management).

The deployment of a ESN in a company is a cultural upheaval because this tool modifies interactions between individuals. This is why companies use external consultants to facilitate the adoption of the collaborative platform. Deploying a ESN also involves a phase of customization of the platform to adapt it to the information system and business processes (e.g. validation procedures) like any other web project of this type.

What are the features of an enterprise social network?

The features of an Enterprise Social Network are designed to develop collaborative work and digital communication in a unified and strategic way:

Collaboration tools

  • Document Management (DMS): document hierarchy, archiving, document sharing
  • Idea management: fostering the emergence of collaborative projects
  • Task and project management
  • Knowledge management
  • Collaborative monitoring: increasing the knowledge of a working group
  • CMS (content management): blogging for corporate reputation and e-marketing
  • Customer relationship: Social CRM, CRM, lead management, customer experience

Communication tools

  • Sharing content, likes, comments
  • Instant messaging for chatting with colleagues
  • Conversational digital marketing with customers

Organizational function

  • Simplification of the managerial organization (more cross-functionality)
  • Participatory management of the company (Decision-making shared between management and operational teams)

What companies use Enterprise Social Networking?

There are usually two types of companies that use ESN. Among them, you may find companies that use agile project management and companies that are looking to remodel their organization.

  • Business Schools
  • Startups
  • Large companies

3 groups of individuals are involved in an ESN project:

  • Leadership: CIO, HRD, Works Council, Communication Manager, Decision-makers
  • The ambassador: Project manager, early adoption
  • The user: the employee who uses the new tool

What are the benefits of using an Enterprise Social Network?

Setting up an ESN is often part of an HR strategy also called HR marketing, which aims to stimulate social interactions in the company in order to enhance Human Capital:

Advantages

  • Strengthen the sense of belonging and unite employees around the corporate culture
  • Promote teleworking thanks to the mobile workstation (always accessible via the Internet)
  • Innovate more quickly thanks to the creativity of our employees
  • Improve the employer brand (E-reputation)
  • Employee retention
  • Valuation of knowledge and collective intelligence
  • Improve team productivity and responsiveness
  • Be in line with the new digital practices of Generation Y
  • Support the development of new technologies in companies. The ESN is an accelerator of digital transformation.
  • Break down barriers between departments in silos. Encourage interaction and communication between teams from different spheres
  • Facilitate teamwork
  • Facilitate speaking in the company
  • Bringing transparency to employees

Disadvantages

  • A change management phase by a third-party consulting firm is almost essential to obtain approval, disseminate good practices and enable employees to adopt the tool.
  • The cost of a service provider to adapt (possibly) the software solution
  • Impacts on the role of the HR function (bilateral relationship with employees instead of the classic top-to-bottom)
  • Companies have concerns about data confidentiality
  • The involvement of each user is difficult to obtain
  • Requires a more transversal rethinking of work organization
  • Non-compliance of certain practices with the Labour Code (working time, etc.)
  • Emergence of distractions

How to choose an ESN?

To ensure a successful digital transition with a collaborative ESN Intranet, it is necessary to enhance the criteria in accordance with its digital strategy:

Criteria

  • Choose between proprietary or Open Source solution
  • Choose between SaaS (Cloud Computing) or On-Premise (Information at your expense) mode
  • Cybersecurity: opt for a very secure solution (AES256, Blockchain, double authentication, etc.)
  • Product innovation in relation to another (using Big Data, Mooc, artificial intelligence, etc.)
  • Ergonomics: user experience, ease of use and adoption of CSR
  • Social responsibility
  • Integrations: Google Apps, IBM connection, Docker, etc.
  • Mobility: mobile application, responsive design, the desktop version

Popular ESN and better collaborative solutions

A collaborative and social software solution such as Jamespot Intranet Social, Yammer (combined with Skype),Facebook for Business, allows employees of companies to connect with each other to communicate and share data, often in a public forum. In social network software, users are represented by a profile.

Discover our guides on Enterprise Social Networks (ESN).