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Posted: March 05, 2014

Social enterprise creates sustainable business

Smart companies use it to their advantage

J.P. Westwood

As one of Americas fastest growing cites, Denver is quickly gaining a reputation for attracting top millennial talent and being on the cutting edge of workplace trends. Events such as Denver Startup Week and The Denver Biz Tech Expo are drawing tech-savvy individuals who expect the most innovative tech tools in the workplace. One way Denver businesses can continue to engage the budding workforce is by diving into the world of “the social enterprise.”

Social enterprise applies social media principles to the workforce. I’m not just talking about Facebook and Twitter. In contrast, social enterprise tools deliver secure, shared workspaces for employees to connect inside and outside company walls. Today’s social enterprise is safe, mobile and, most of all, effective in increasing employee productivity and collaboration.

Last year, Microsoft commissioned noted independent research firm, Ispos, to conduct a study on social tools in the workplace. The study shows that employees use social tools at work to team up on projects, brainstorm solutions, and share information – not just to chit-chat about what they had for lunch. Additionally, 40 percent of employees believe social tools help foster better teamwork, and more than a third said they could do their jobs better if management was more supportive of these tools. The social enterprise can also help connect workers with customers and vendors in order to improve the way they work together and strengthen relationships over time.

Employees are often ahead of business leaders in recognizing the value of social tools at work. In fact, the Microsoft study revealed that many companies underestimate the benefits of social mechanisms so much that they enact policies to restrict their use – much to the dismay of employees. But smart businesses recognize that the future is social. Instead of blocking and banning, businesses leaders must embrace this trend and use it in their favor. Data shows that companies with social networking applications get more work done, not less. Thirty-four percent of employees report increased productivity when allowed to incorporate social media tools into their work day.

Social enterprise tools offer additional valuable layers of communication and transparency to a work environment. Management consulting firm McKinsey estimates that 25 to 30 percent of total email time could be saved if the channel of communication was relocated to a social platform. Across the Front Range, as companies are growing and gaining momentum - here are a few benefits local businesses could see by incorporating enterprise social tools:

  1. Meeting new people and tearing down silos – With managers behind closed doors and team members hidden behind cubicle walls, it can be difficult to connect with co-workers on a personal level. In a social workplace, it’s easier to share ideas with the right people and get to know them even if they work in different departments or offices.
  2. Cutting down the amount of time it takes to achieve consensus – Many businesses utilize team structures. These structures are often good for morale but bad for streamlining the decision-making process. By incorporating enterprise social, teams can “work out loud,” offering real-time feedback through polls and conversations to get work done faster.
  3. Improving mobility and productivity – Today’s tech savvy workers demand mobility and options for how and where they work. Enterprise social is available outside of office walls so workers can access information no matter where they are.

Social media has become common place, and in a world full with “Likes” and “Shares” businesses that are slow to adapt will be left behind. In order for Denver business to gain competitive advantages, continue gaining momentum and attract a new generation of workers, the adoption of the social enterprise is a must.

J.P. Westwood is General Manager, Desert Mountain District at Microsoft, overseeing Denver. To learn more about Microsoft’s many social tools for the workplace, visit www.yammer.com/solutions.

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