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'Lazy' employees can fix your social woes, says Yammer co-founder

Brad Chacos | Aug. 30, 2012
If your organization's social media initiatives have fizzled more than fostered debate, don't despair: yours isn't the only one. Social media has taken the mainstream by storm, but its adoption in the business world has been more uneven. Why is the road to better internal discussion often so rocky?

A BYOD Approach to Software

Yammer feels that letting employees choose which software is the best fit for their jobs is a continuance of the consumerization of IT and a "revolution in the enterprise today." Convincing employees and IT departments to join the "bring your own software" (BYOS) cause are two totally different beasts, however.

Many IT departments are just starting to warm up to the idea of letting employees bring iPhones to work, after all--wouldn't investing in social tools suggested by employees create whole new headaches and costs? That's where the freemium model used by Yammer and several other enterprise social network tools comes into play, Pisoni argues.

"Historically, companies have had to buy (software) before they try it or view demos, and adoption risk is probably the greatest risk in software. It could be great, but if no one uses it, it doesn't matter. Part of the importance of the freemium, viral business model where any employee can sign up for free is that we get to guarantee a company that their employees will use and choose this software even before (the company) pays for it. We essentially 'de-risk' the purchase by making it freemium. We say, 'They're already using it, they already like it.'"

Open Your Ears

Social media experts preach that businesses should spend more time listening and less time talking. Pisoni's plea for companies to listen to so-called lazy employees is basically the same thing. How can you ask employees to fully invest in your internal social initiatives when your IT department won't listen when those employees complain about the initiatives, or more dramatically, bring in third-party tools of their own?

On the flipside, while nobody knows what tools are needed as well as the person doing the job does, many companies understandably would have some reservations about letting staff churn and burn through official work on unsanctioned software.

What's the middle ground? How did your business decide which social network to use? What do you think when employees find a workaround to company-sanctioned tools?


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