We’re excited to launch our new business intelligence collaboration tool. With collaboration for BI, we’re taking our innovative BI360 suite and delivering even better insight into every facet of your data and your business.

So what’s so exciting about our enterprise collaboration tool? With proper use of just a few key features, your company can realize significant increases in efficiency and productivity:

  • Dashboards:Monitor all the activities that are important to you: groups and discussions you subscribe to, tasks and workflows assigned to you, the hottest topics in the company—all on a single screen.
    • Social Report Library: Read and comment on reports through unified books that combine reports from any number of your organization’s reporting and BI tools, including BI360, SQL Reporting Services, and more.
    • Dialogue: Open up and encourage productive discussions and commentary across locations, departments, functions, projects, resources—even devices—to ensure the right information reaches the right people, to make the right decisions.
    • Profiles: Search for and review employee profiles to see if their expertise aligns with your needs. Find associated information that may connect you to additional key resources, and “follow” experts that share information of interest to you.

These are just a few. For a complete look at our new collaboration tool, visit our Collaboration page, or watch our webinar. 

I was never completely sold on the social enterprise platform idea. The business case for replicating popular social networking functionality in a corporate environment seemed dubious at best. Would there ever be a return on investment?
That was until I actually talk to some users. Admittedly success depends heavily on the implementation strategy, but every company I interviewed claimed measurable gains from these tools in a variety of areas. Here are six ways they derive value from social enterprise applications.

1. Find Experts Faster

One of the most mentioned advantages of these products is the ability to quickly find internal experts. In fact, Jive Software surveys show sales win rates increasing an average of 23 percent, and time to find experts falls 34 percent. This is more than a glorified intranet. Search functions are powered by advanced social intelligence algorithms that allow users to quickly recall experts by subject, experience or geographic relevance.

2. Augment Transparency, Accountability and Communications Efficiency

Also, mentioned repeatedly, users touted the unparalleled level of transparency with socialized business. Conversations aren’t trapped in someone’s inbox, so management has continuous insight into the team’s progress. This prevents work duplication and redundancies because everyone is literally on the same page. In groups for project management, someone can enter the group and immediately have context into the situation just by scanning the discussion thread and checking attached documents — without ever sending an email.

3. Streamline Project Management

Social enterprise networks utilize all kinds of shortcuts to streamline workflow. One software developer told me they used social enterprise network shortcuts to facilitate scrum meetings, a key component of the agile software development methodology. Rather than hold their daily morning standup meetings in person, each member of the 37-person team posts “what I did yesterday,” “what I will do today” and “barriers to moving forward” using the hashtag #scrum. The tag allows users to quickly see what everyone is working on and chime in when appropriate. The poster can also delegate tasks to others with the “@” symbol. With some social collaboration tools, users can also employ shortcuts such as an “!” to pull information into the thread from CRM and other enterprise systems.

4. Better Leverage Information and Insights

The before mentioned social and adaptive intelligence can also suggest articles, files and experts based on the user’s position, connections, group memberships and resources they’ve previously accessed. (Think of Amazon when they say “those who’ve purchased this book also liked this one.”)  Imagine you have 10,000 people in an enterprise. Sales materials, RFPs are constantly flowing through system. Social enterprise apps make the most of this information by channeling it to the right people.

5. Generate More, Better Ideas

These platforms provide several means for employees to contribute ideas–from responding to queries and surveys (crowdsourcing), to posting ideas in a group discussion threads. Users receive gratification when co-workers and leadership “like” their contribution. Then, they are continually rewarded as they watch project teams bring the idea to fruition.

6. Boost Employee Recognition and Engagement

Some executives mentioned using social enterprise apps to pull reports that identify employees with high engagement and positive feedback. The more a user interacts with groups, downloads articles and responds to queries with the same keywords, the more they are distinguished as thought leaders on a subject.
The social collaboration software category is a quickly growing market space with a number of existing players like Jive, Yammer and Chatter, as well as new solutions such as BI360.
Research for this article was provided by Software Advice.

There is no doubt that a new generation of Enterprise Collaboration tools are coming full steam to the corporate marketplace. As the Facebook generation(s) starts demanding modern collaboration tools and interfaces at the workplace, this new breed of “social” business tools are here to stay. Early adopters are already using one or more enterprise collaboration tools, while late adopters might take two or more years to get on-board.
Yes, we have had collaboration tools available for a long time, just look at how much time we spend with e-mails, desktop sharing tools and sharing of files on the good old intranet every day. The question that every executive who believes technology is the way to make a real impact on their organization should be asking themselves is; if e-mails, meetings, conference calls, employee surveys, HR-managed resource and phone lists are the best use of everyone’s time for the next 10 years or if a good amount of this communication could have a better home in a modern enterprise collaboration tool.
A successfully implemented (including executive sponsorship and cultural adaptation) enterprise collaboration tool could with ONE single web-based interface (not with logging in to 5 different tools) that works on any device help with the following:
1. Idea generation and nurturing
2. Finding and networking with key resources (people directory)
3. Facilitating and storing of important business discussions of any kind (that does not include communication like: “Hey Joe, do you want to go to lunch at Noon today?”). E-mails and instant messaging do a fine job handling that today.
4. Facilitating and storing of key information through built-in micro-blogs and wikis
5. Facilitating and storing employee (and partner/customer) surveys
5. Searching and finding historical information from all of the above processes
6. Cross-linking of information from all of the above, so when you are doing one task, key words in your text start finding related items in the collaboration repository and serving it up real-time.
I think it is just a matter of time before modern enterprise collaboration tools are at a maturity stage and there are enough success stories that the technology becomes more important to growth and productivity than for example the company’s ERP system. This will not happen in 2012, but my guess would be by around 2014 or 2015.