Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Perception of value changes over time, and in the case of enterprise social, with the maturity level of experience that an organization has gained over time.
 
As a partner, I cannot stress hard enough how important it is for you to be using Yammer. I know that oftentimes partners suffer from the ‘cobbler’s children’ problem, where we fix everyone else’s IT except our own internally. But in this case, not only having the shoes but walking in them is crucially important. At WPC in July 2014, during the keynote, it was mentioned that partners who use Microsoft software internally sell three times more services than those who don’t. So if the possibility of transforming your business isn’t enough, perhaps the incentive to provide more comprehensive services to your customers will be. And in the case of enterprise social, the large majority of the project is about change management, not about technology.
 
Our Yammer Journey at ManyWorlds
 
At ManyWorlds, we’ve been using Yammer internally for over four years; yup, that’s two years before Microsoft bought them. Not only has it given us insight into how to use enterprise social networks inside an organization, it has allowed our own business to grow faster by creating an organic knowledge base of institutional knowledge. Additionally having that network has flattened hierarchies, enabled getting new employees up to speed faster, allowed for curation of what has gone on before, and enabled faster communication between and inside teams. Yammer’s mantra is about working like a network. Networks are the fastest way to get information distributed and what I fancifully coin ‘raise the acuity of an organization’ – that is, have everyone on the same baseline as quickly as possible so that you can build new knowledge faster, without retreading old ground.
 
We’ve also developed two apps for Yammer: the app for networks in the early stages of using enterprise social, Streaming It Out Loud, is a freemium app that provides a great way for organizations to stream who is working out loud in Yammer at events, on shared screens and on tablets or other second screen devices. One of our customers reported that they have 28% higher engagement stats on their Yammer network when they are streaming on to shared screens around the buildings and break areas. Removing the barrier to checking out what’s going on in Yammer is the first hurdle, and getting key stakeholders engaged by having a stream of the heartbeat of the organization on an iPad or Surface type device is a great way to build the adoption you want.
 
 
 
Secondly, Synxi is our app to make workplaces more productive and innovative with unique machine learning technology for knowledge and expertise discovery. With over 30 patents in this innovative technology, we took our competitive edge in collaboration and applied it to a new platform, delivering visualizations and contextualized, personalized recommendations of expertise and knowledge that you need to know about, but didn’t know existed in your organization. 
 
 
 
Helping Customers on their Social Journey
 
So now that I’ve helped to illustrate the value of enterprise social to your business both internally and market-facing, let’s talk about how to have that discussion with customers.
 
First you need to really understand the interest and potential within their organization. What kinds of business results does the client want to drive? Often the vaunted approach of starting small with a few motivated individuals and capturing success from there is a great way to begin. But there are also new opportunities to bring enterprise social to scenarios such as sales. You can find great resources in the new Office 365 Success Center and Enterprise Social Resource Center.
 
Personally, I’m a fan of finding customer use cases where they’ve implemented six sigma type processes in their organization and are looking for ways to enable the continuous improvement part of that methodology through social experiences that allow employees at every level to contribute and build on each other’s ideas. In my opinion, the best way to get a new technology accepted and adopted in an organization is to couple it to major tenets of that company. For example, I used to work at an oil and gas supermajor where naturally safety was a major concern. Using enterprise social as a new way to distribute, discuss and learn safety practices is a great way to get people using the new technology to socialize institutional knowledge and learn from each other.
 
Ultimately, understanding where the client is on the maturity spectrum of social adoption and discovering the use cases for them are where the value lies. At the beginning of the adoption phase, metrics that are heavy in analytics such as number of users, messages, and groups dominate. These metrics subtly change to a business-value orientation as success stories (often termed yamwins) begin to circulate, detailing how resources were connected together because of this new social structure that reflects the culture and enables new ways of working in an organization.
 
Eventually, as you incentivize the behaviors you want to drive in the organization, your enterprise social network no longer serves as just a mirror on the how the organization operates, but instead as a model of how it operates most effectively.
 
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To learn more, check out these sessions that Naomi led at WPC14:

 

Naomi Moneypenny is CTO at Synxi (a ManyWorlds brand) where she leads the development team for the adaptive recommendations and machine learning engine for SharePoint, Yammer and other social systems. She is a Microsoft MVP for Office365, and she holds over 30 patents in the area of adaptive systems and was named a Top 25 SharePoint Influencer in 2014. Naomi is a frequent speaker at international events on enterprise social and collaboration, anticipatory computing and business growth from innovative technology. Follow Naomi at @nmoneypenny and read her latest thinking at NaomiMoneypenny.com.​