Your IT Manager's View Consolidating Enterprise Social Networks

How do enterprise social networks (ESNs) like Yammer and Jive affect your job as IT manager?

In my last post I described how ESNs can be a double-edged sword: They can be a boon to productivity and in-house communication, but at the same time they can lead to information silos in your company as different functional groups adopt different social network software products.

You’ve been getting kudos for helping productivity by keeping the platforms running. Now, however, it’s time to consolidate ESNs.

Whose inbox do you think that’s going to land in?

“They look free to you, but they cost money.”

Ultimately, everything costs money, even cool, enterprise social products like Yammer and Jive. Besides the licensing, other costs of multiple ESNs are painfully apparent to you as IT manager:

  • Juggling requests for multiple networks puts extra burden on your team. You have service level agreements to think about.
  • Managing and supporting multiple ESNs requires time, people and expertise, all of which cost money.
  • Not all ESNs integrate well with existing corporate applications. That’s a soft cost, but a cost nonetheless.

So why not pick one, migrate all your content to it and crack on? Well, there’s cost, risk, time and burden involved in a migration, too, and it needs to go smoothly.

How to stop supporting multiple ESNs

Almost half of the 194 companies surveyed by Dimensional Research are planning to standardize on a single enterprise social platform, and one fourth of them plan to discontinue one or more platforms. That may sound like pulling the plug on an important vehicle for communication and productivity, but there’s an element of IT strategy to it, really.

Supporting multiple ESNs is a drain on your resources. IT managers are smart to examine the costs of maintaining licenses on more than one ESN, gather data on whether the company is getting enough value out of them all, work with admins on a strategy for integrating ESNs with existing business applications and ultimately consolidate ESNs so that everyone in the company is working on a single enterprise social platform.

The consolidation is the tricky part. Migrating all those posts, images and metadata takes more than pressing Ctrl + Shift + F11. Here are some of the ideas you’ll hear from your administrators:

  • “We can hire a consultant.”
  • “We can develop custom scripts.”
  • “We can do it ourselves manually by copying and pasting.”

Still sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Maybe silos aren’t as bad as we thought . . .

Next steps

If you’re trying to figure out a way to stop supporting multiple ESNs, have a look at our new white paper, “Best Practices for Consolidating Multiple Enterprise Social Networks” (10-minute read). You’ll find that it includes the IT manager’s perspective on consolidation, and that you’re not alone in looking at the problem.

Also, our infographic “How much does enterprise social cost you?” covers the main data points from the Dimensional Research survey about multiple enterprise social networks.