Finding the right fit for an enterprise social network

A lot has been written about the value that enterprise social networks (ESN's) can bring to organisations. From breaking down information silos, enabling individuals to ask and answer questions and improving the flow of communication within departments ESN's like Yammer can provide a lot of value to organisations.

However finding the right fit for an ESN can be difficult, especially where an organisation might already have several digital tools in place. For example most organisations will have intranets, so how can intranets and ESN's work alongside each other? This is the question asked and answered by James Dellow in his article "Where intranets and enterprise social networks fit in your business"

James starts by answering the question many people might have, which is how can the chaos that can be an ESN work alongside an intranet, which are usually calm havens of documents, links and pages. The answer is that as an organisation you need to understand the value that each of the tools can bring. There are of course many differences between the tools and the perceived value that they provide, but as James says "value is relative"

Intranets deliver value based on the information they provide from systems and tools that people are aware that exist. ESN's do something very different, in that they help people escape the "tyranny" of hierarchy and encourage people to think differently about how they organise information.

Does that mean that ESN's will replace intranets? I don't think so and James agrees, saying that they're essential, but they're not as engaging, responsive or transformative as they could be. This is certainly true although you could argue that more intranets are become lean, lightweight and perhaps most important more social.