Data and robots to the rescue of corporate social networks
An employee embarrassed by a new and unforeseen situation thinks that the best way to find help is to use the social network that his company deployed several months ago. He connects, throws his bottle into the sea and… .will never receive any response.
The case of the bottle by the sea is the typical use case of a corporate social network, the one on which many business cases are based and the one that often works the least well. Why ?
- 1- Because our user did not use the platform before and decided in desperation for this specific case. He does not know it, does not master its codes and good practices, does not know how to identify the right people or communities or how to speak there. Having never contributed and participated before, it may also be that we are less eager to respond to him than to another. And since there is no contact, no one follows him so his bottle at sea gets lost in the Bermuda Triangle.
- 2- The platform is underused, or even not used. He finds nothing there because there is simply nothing. Badly identified business needs, vocation to be used only as a coffee machine, etc… there are many reasons.
Corporate social network replaces flawed search engine
- 3- The information exists, but elsewhere. The company did not wait for the social network to produce value-added information that could be used by our poor employee. The CRM would help him identify who worked on a given type of project for a client, the project management tools, the shared disks are full of analyzes and procedures, the directory also if it is suitably enriched and populated. by external data and updated by the user. Unfortunately “global search” is a pipe dream in most companies, with useful data made inaccessible in locked directories, and so on. Finally, what is the purpose of the social network? Replace a search engine with people and ask them where is what you can’t find yourself. Not only, because the advantage of obtaining information by a human is to benefit from elements of context that an engine alone does not – or not yet -, but we are mainly there.
- 4- The people concerned are simply not available. We are in asynchronous mode and if our employee needs an answer during the day while the others are busy elsewhere, he simply did not have time to take note of his request or to respond to it. despite their willingness to help. And the less the corporate social network is integrated with “usual” tools such as email, the less anchored it is in daily life, the more frequent this scenario is.
In the end, four good reasons – at least – for the star of the use cases to be largely disappointed. The life of a social platform relies on the active and continuous participation of a critical mass of users, on their availability, their attention, and this is often where the shoe pinches.
But solutions exist and others, to come, are even more promising.
Some companies have already started to develop a parade by showing a little more direction. The idea is to intelligently compensate for the lack of practice, the lack of contacts or even the low availability of employees. It is about “pushing” the request to the right people, regardless of whether they are already in contact with the requester, follow him or are members of the spaces and communities where he has shared his request. It suffices, as long as he has put the right keywords or #hashtags in his request to “push” it in a directive way towards the people able to answer. Advantage: Even a non-contact neophyte will reach the right people. Disadvantage: it often required specific developments based on search, semantics and analytics but we can hope that this kind of functionality quickly becomes native.
But what is coming and that I hope with all my best wishes is even much more promising and is an operational, simple and concrete use case of thecognitive computing as a collaboration aid agent.
Imagine a system that indexes all of the company’s interesting data. Structured or unstructured. It’s possible, we’ve already seen it here with the notion of implicit social network. Then imagine that when we throw such a bottle into the sea via the social network, by the microblogging functionality for example, a “Watson” or equivalent processes the request and responds to the user. This accesses the content of the social network – at least – but also ideally from any useful source.
The agent will advantageously replace human intermediation
- the user asks his question in natural language: “is it possible to”, “who knows who…”, “where….”.
- the response is instantaneous
- the result is not or not only a link to relevant information, but a comprehensible and actionable response in real French. It is important to understand the difference between links to sources for developing a response and a full response. In addition, the system is able to provide its level of confidence in its own response.
- it does not matter whether the user is a novice or has a developed network, he will have the best possible answer
- we save everyone time by avoiding solicitations with low added value
Note that I am talking about the inclusion of this feature in the social network, because it embodies the idea of bottle in the sea, but it is neither more nor less than the future of the search engine that we are talking about. It will therefore ideally have its place on the intranet home page
Your employees are not the poor man’s search engine
Asynchronous participation will always remain problematic for enterprise social platforms. But when you only search for humans to use them as an advanced search engine, there are alternatives that will soon improve things. Participation becomes passive and gain in value, because the requester will always have his answer.
Tomorrow we will be asking questions of intelligent agents and the “Hey Watson” will replace the “Does anyone know…?”. A revolution in the use cases of corporate social networks, but an essential evolution.
Because, frankly, your employees have incredible added value to give to their colleagues. But not when they are just asked to replace a search engine.
Bertrand Duperrin is Digital Transformation Practice Leader at Emakina. He was previously Consulting Director at Nextmodernity, a firm in the field of business transformation and management through social business and the use of social technologies.
He regularly deals with social media news on his blog.
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