Social Behind the Firewall Part 1: A $600 Billion Puzzle



Facebook and Twitter are well understood as communications tools used for companies to engage with customers and external stakeholders. However, not many companies have a clear understanding of how to effectively use social tools behind their company firewalls. In fact, many industry leaders hold the view of one social expert that “If social isn’t impacting your direct customers, there isn’t additional value to internal communications”.

In reality, there is at least US $600 Billion in business value sitting behind the company firewall.

In “The Social Economy”, McKinsey estimates, “Two-thirds (of an estimated US$ 900 billion to US$ 1.3 trillion) of the value creation opportunity afforded by social technologies lies in improving communications and collaboration within and across enterprises.” In other words, there is a US $600 billion puzzle that needs to be assembled through innovative social solutions behind the company firewall.

Beyond the value creation estimates there is need for companies to maintain their competitive edge. A company that fails to communicate internally is a centrifugal beast that lacks effective processes within their company to adequately respond to opportunities, to customers, and to market changes, making social media as an external communications tool irrelevant. This means, in the end, companies need to be social, both internally and externally.

Initiating a Dialogue: Completing the Social Business Puzzle and Your Experience

This series of posts will begin a dialogue on a piece of the social business puzzle largely missing from best practices dialogues today – the use of social technology tools to drive effective internal communications. In short, companies will struggle to maintain competitiveness, if they retain a myopic view of social business that over-emphasizes the importance of external communications. All companies need to carefully examine best practices and pitfalls for communication within their firm. Organizations and the people within them communicate as a matter of course. Indeed, the very purpose of a shared workplace is the facilitation of collaboration through formal means (meetings) or informal means (ad hoc discussions). So, why would collaboration, conversation, and information-sharing not simply happen within organizations?

What’s been your experience?

Can social business practices naturally spring up from a firm with external social activities in place? If not, what communications practices are needed to grease the wheels of internal communications through social platforms and channels behind the firewall?

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Mihael Mafy

About the author: Joab Meyers

Joab Meyer, Supply Chain Business Operations Manager at Cisco Systems and David Wolf, Managing Director at Allison+Partner, aim to help companies chart a path to integrating social media into their internal communications. They are the co-creators of New Water Cooler blog  on social media in the workplace.

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