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If an Enterprise Social Network is the Solution, What’s the Problem?

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I really dislike the term “Enterprise Social Network.” It’s too broad. It’s basically defined as a group of people who share similar interests in a social context. And that’s why you find products attempting to solve a variety of problems in this category – customer service, sales enablement, simple messaging, social media, and more. Bloomfire is often categorized as an “Enterprise Social Network tool. And every time I hear people do so, I cringe. Why?

First, it sounds like an analyst term to lump a bunch of tools that have a social component. Frankly, it’s more helpful for analysts in this context than for anyone looking for the solution to a problem they may have. Because it’s so broad, no one looks for an “Enterprise Social Network” tool.

Second, if you look at the companies that buy Google Adwords for “Enterprise Social Network,” you’ll find everything from Yammer to OneDrive to Hootsuite. What I don’t like about the term is that it implies neither a problem nor a solution. If it did, you wouldn’t find these companies lumped together. In fact, you’ll probably never find these companies together in another list.

And yet, there is a very small group of people seeking out an “Enterprise Social Network.” I’ve spoken with some of them. And they are the reason you’ll find that we at Bloomfire advertise under “Enterprise Social Network.” This group of people is solving a unique problem that I believe is backwards: they want a tool that their employees can use to socialize around a problem. Any problem. They recognize that there is a problem with individuals communicating with other individuals via email, and they want a solution that allows for a broader sharing of information – one to many. They want their employees to socialize in the flow of business to get something done better or faster or more efficiently.

For them, “Enterprise Social Network” is the beginning of a solution. Choosing an area of the business to socialize around is the next step.

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