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: 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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