Enterprise Social Software: A New Category

Posted on October 2, 2008. Filed under: Enterprise Learning, HR Systems, Learning 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This week we introduced some important and groundbreaking research on a new, important category of enterprise software:  the market for corporate Social Software platforms.   Traditionally our research has focused on identifying the strategies, processes, and systems which help corporate HR and L&D drive effectiveness and business value.  But as we continued to study the market for Talent Management and Learning Management software, we found that almost every software vendor was building features for internal social networking.

As we talk with corporate HR and L&D leaders they tell us that more and more of their focus is moving toward strategies and systems which support and create internal social networks, internal collaboration, content sharing, and informal learning.  So naturally we asked ourselves, how is this all going to come together?

Our research found several things.  First, today most companies are experimenting with many forms of social software in the areas of employee expert directories, customer service, customer community management, sales force collaboration and knowledge management, and technical communities of practice.  In fact, more than half the companies we talked with have active, highly sophistocated communities of practice in many of their customer facing and technical roles.  

Second, we found that very few companies have found a way to apply these tools and solutions to enterprise-wide HR, learning, and talent strategies.  Some, like IBM and Cisco, have invested heavily in this area and are well along on implementing what we call “learning on-demand” solutions internally.  But most companies are still bringing together teams from IT, HR, L&D, sales, and service and trying to figure out how an enterprise-wide social networking strategy would work.

Third, we found that this new application segment has spawned a large and very fast-growing segment of software providers.   While the jury is still out on whether these companies will grow into billion dollar companies or be subsumed into the likes of Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, IBM, and others, we believe that for the next 3-5 years these companies will become very important in the development of strategies and solutions for enterprise-wide learning and talent strategies.  The market is already over $270 Million and we expect it to grow to over $400 Million by the end of 2009.

These new, fast-growing companies like Atlassian, Jive Software, LiveWorld, Mzinga, and Telligent have built highly functional systems which implement the four major categories of “Social Software” – conversations, connections, collaboration, and content.  While most are not uniquely targeting the market for HR and corporate training, all are moving in this direction and they warrant a good look by your organization.

Does this mean that the market for Learning Management Systems (LMS) and content management systems is going away?  No, not at all — but it clearly means that a new “category” has been created, and this new category will challenge LMS providers and corporate buyers to think hard about how they build their next-generation HR and Learning systems architectures.

I encourage our clients to learn about this space – it is transformational.  Our upcoming research bulletin on the role of Social Networking in Enterprise Learning and Talent Management will help you learn more.

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Social Networking in Talent Management: Where are we?

Posted on July 2, 2008. Filed under: Enterprise Learning, HR Systems, Learning 2.0, Learning Programs, LMS, LCMS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Whew.  Earlier this year we embarked on a major research effort to understand the growing role of social networking in enterprise learning and talent management.  The results are amazing.   Let me give you a brief preview of some of our initial findings:

  1. Organizations are working mightily to figure out how to leverage social networking (blogs, wikis, presence awareness, messaging, expert directories, communities of practice) in all forms of corporate training, customer education and support, and talent management.  For example, 77% of all L&D organizations believe that younger workers (under 25) have significantly different learning styles than older workers, yet only 16% feel they have developed some level of expertise in the implementation of collaborative learning.  In our most recent Learning On-Demand research, even the most advanced companies tell us that only 14% of companies are using blogs or wikis, and fewer than 4% feel highly successful with these solutions yet.  One big surprise:  28% of our research respondents are not even using Instant Messaging yet, illustrating how long it takes for collaborative solutions to reach broad adoption (and support from IT).
  2. Learning platforms are being “re-examined.”  Most of the companies we talk with are significantly rethinking their entire learning platform strategy (LMS) to understand how to evolve or add new systems which support collaboration.  And today’s LMS is not as successful as one would believe:  across all the organizations we studied (approximately 900 different organizations), on average only 51% of employees use the learning platform at all.
  3. Sophistocated, large, global companies are moving fast.  Almost 1/4 (24%) of organizations now have some concept or strategy for “learning on-demand” (the term we have coined to describe the next era of corporate e-learning), and larger organizations (those with more than 10,000 employees) are twice as far along as small to mid-sized organizations.  The reason, of course, is that large organizations have no choice – without collaborative solutions they can no longer scale their L&D programs.
  4. Social networking software companies are sprouting up like weeds.  We identified 90 such companies in our research, and more than 35 of them are somewhat focused on the corporate internal employee market.  Our initial research clearly shows that these companies fall into four categories:  (A) software providers focused on corporate learning, HR, and collaboration systems and solutions (e.g. IBM, Microsoft-Sharepoint, Jive, Mzinga, Awareness, Q2 Learning, and others), (B) providers focused on external customer and public-facing collaborative networks like a company external blog (e.g. Lithium, Ning, Communispace, Telligent) (C) providers focused on content management systems, who have added on systems for collaboration (EMC, OpenText,  Ektron, Alfresco) and (D) true application software companies who are adding collaboration and social networking to their systems (SuccessFactors, Saba, CornerstoneOndemand).
  5. I firmly believe that this new form of software-enabled collaboration is a revolution, not an evolution.  Like many of the software innovations that I have personally witnessed over my career (e.g. the first color graphics PC, the CD-ROM, the web-browser, Flash, SaaS architectures, and others), social networking is really going to shake things up.  The reason is that these systems are both complex, data-rich, and require a new type of software architecture.  A system which supports 200,000 employees and customers with in-depth employee and customer profiles, active communication and blogging, tagging, content management, custom branding, and tracking each and every communication is quite a complex software solution.  As we examine these vendors we are finding some very significant new areas of functionality which are going to change and upset the traditional HR software companies.
  6. The jury is out on what our ultimate HR software architectures will look like.  Small and mid-sized companies will likely adopt social networking through their SaaS application solutions.  Enterprises are more likely to develop IT standards eventually.  And many companies will implement departmental, divisional, and application-led solutions while the market evolves.  While most enterprises would like to have a corporate “architecture” in this area, it will take time for this to occur and it often takes a few years for the “safe, corporate-approved” solutions to emerge.  (None are there yet.)

We also recently hired David Mallon, our newest analyst covering this area – who is actively involved in identifying case studies and product solutions in “learning on-demand” and the applications of social networking to corporate talent management. 

Research Available:  A Primer on Social Networking in Talent Management

We recently published “Social Networking for Enterprise Learning and Talent Management:  A Primer” which is available to anyone who would like to register at our website. 

Note:  we are actively seeking input on your experiences and organizational strategy in this area – you can participate in this study by clicking here.

An exciting area and we look forward to giving you more information as we learn more!

 

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Social Networking: Meet Corporate America

Posted on November 16, 2007. Filed under: Content Development, Enterprise Learning, HR Systems, Learning 2.0, Performance Management | Tags: , , , , |

This week I was on a panel at the Oracle Users Group discussing the needs of the multi-generational workforce.  Most of the attendees (HR and training managers) were focused on identifying what their organizations need to do to attract, manage, and integrate younger workers into their organizations.  

Our research clearly shows that the Millenia (20s) and Generation X (30s) workforce has different values and career goals than the Baby-Boomers (50s) and Silent Generation (60s+).   Some of these changes include:

  • Much more interest in finding “fulfilling” jobs, not necessarily just the highest-paying jobs, focusing on finding meaningful and interesting work
  • Feeling free to change jobs frequently, not necessarily working up the ladder in one organization
  • Working as part of a “tribe,” finding work with people you like, not just an organization you like
  • Heavy use of technology (messaging, collaboration, online learning) as a daily part of their work lives
  • Very close relationships with family, to the point where parents even evaluate employers for the workers
  • Openness and flat organizations, where peers provide coaching as much as managers.

The key questions which organizations are struggling with are:

  • How do we attract highly skilled younger workers to our organization?   What can we do to become an attractive organization to them during the recruiting process?
  • What are the values which impact younger workers and how does this affect our management and compensation processes?
  • How do we build onboarding and career development programs for younger workers, many of which will change jobs 10-15 times in their careers?
  • How do we manage senior employees who may not be as technology-savvy as younger workers?
  • How do we build online learning and other internal systems to facilitate learning and collaboration to mirror the social networking tools which young workers use in school?

We are undertaking a significant research program in this area, which will cover the impact of the multi-generational workforce on all of the talent management and enterprise learning processes.  One of the elements of this research is the use of “internal social networking” tools like Facebook for corporate America.

Where is this going?  Facebook for Corporate America.

Let me say this.  Every HR and L&D leader I have talked with in the last several months is very aware of the need to build internal social network solutions for their organization.  We can call it “Facebook meets Talent Management for Corporate America.”

Such a system has the potential to solve many problems:

  • An internal directory of employees for collaboration
  • A talent management solution to identify people for projects and new roles
  • A career planning system to help employees find new positions and opportunities
  • A learning and development solution to allow people to collaborate to solve discipline and function-specific problems (e.g. technical support, engineering, product development, customer service)
  • A system which integrates with the company’s performance management and talent management system, providing access to information such as performance ratings, career history, languages, preferences, career interests, and more.

Where are these solutions?  Well nearly every LMS and talent management systems vendor would like to have such a solution today.  Some exciting developments are coming here – and I would like to highlight a few (you can learn more about this space by coming to our Research Conference IMPACT 2008:  The Business of Talent (www.bersin.com/impact ), where we will be highlighting many of these new solutions.

New Solutions to Watch:  Mzinga, Tomoye, and Taleo

A few important companies to watch:  Today KnowledgePlanet announced their bold and exciting new rebranded company Mzinga (www.mzinga.com) – Mzinga, headed by former Lotus and Webex executives, is launching an exciting product and services-based strategy to help organizations build social networks inside of corporations. 

A second company which has been focusing in this area for some time is Tomoye (www.tomoye.com).  Tomoye has been building corporate communities of practices for several years and also has a well designed product for corporate social networks.  I expect them to pick up momentum in the year to come.

Finally, we have to mention Taleo (www.taleo.com).  Taleo’s new performance management product (Taleo Performance) is one of the most interesting “facebook-like” performance products we have seen to date.  Its innovative new user interface gives the company the option to build social networking features into the daily and annual process of employee performance management.

See More at IMPACT 2008:  The Business of Talent®

We will be featuring corporate social networking and new solutions for informal learning at our 2008 research conference IMPACT 2008:  The Business of Talent (www.bersin.com/impact).  Hold the dates on your calendar (April 22-24 in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida) – registration will be available soon.

The Business of Talent

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