Over the past years, organizations have been looking for ways to integrate social media in their ERP software applications. However, not much success has been reported. It is only over the last four years that we’ve started seeing social media elements being robustly integrated in ERP software applications.
One lesson has been clear all along: social elements should not be integrated in enterprise apps just for the sake of it.
According to Mike Gotta, an analyst with Gartner, most of the social integration done in the past was disconnected from enterprise apps. For example, a company could start a forum or a wiki page to provide collaboration opportunities to their employees. However, after the conversations on the social platforms, employees had to leave and return to work on their enterprise apps.
The disconnect between apps and social elements prevents organizations from attaining optimum productivity. This is a clear example of integrating social elements just for the sake of it.
For maximum operational benefits and efficiency, organizations need social elements that are fully integrated in their enterprise apps. The social tools need to be part of the ERP and not separate tools.
Employees need social tools that are available where businesses processes are happening. For example, an employee in the sales department may need to get information from customer service, supply chain, or inventory department. If there is a platform that can integrate these different departments to ease communication, the organization can realize improved efficiency.
Successful Social Media Integration in Enterprise Apps
One of the first successes of social integration in enterprise apps was Salesforce’s Chatter, which launched in 2010. The app improved the organization’s efficiency by enabling employees to find information faster either by posting questions or reaching out to other users through their Chatter profiles.
SAP has also addressed the need for social integration in its enterprise apps through its Jam solution. With the app, employees can connect with other employees in “deal rooms” to discuss projects and find information they need.
Challenges of Integrating Social in Enterprise Apps
While social integration is a welcome step for organizations looking to improve efficiency and customer service delivery, there are a few challenges that must be overcome.
For example, there is the expected resistance of employees with regards to the new technology. If the management does not support and contribute to the efforts of the integration team, the organization can see lower adoption of social integrated solutions by employees.
There is also the notion that social integration will eliminate the manual work that employees usually do. While this may be true to some extent, employees are the ones that are ultimately in charge of the financial success of the company. Just because you have a social tool does not mean it can replace the work of your employees.
Community managers and senior management play an important role in encouraging employee engagement. However, as more young people who’ve grown up with social media sites enter the workforce, the need for training is practically eliminated especially for social tools that are modeled after similar platforms like Facebook.
Adding Social Media to Social Enterprise Apps
Organizations also have social apps like social CRM to consider. Social CRM tools can be programmed to provide user notifications, enable comment threads, track company mentions and so on. For instance, if a customer service agent has been chatting with a client, other agents can easily see the chat history in real time.
This capability of social CRM is important in providing customers with a better experience. For instance, a customer may rant about your brand on social media. With your social CRM tool, you can almost immediately get notified when there is a complaint about your company or product and take the necessary action.
Through integrated social CRM, customer service agents can see which customer has complained, the complaint raised and even previous communication with the client. The agents can then take steps to contact the user to handle the issues raised.
Future of Social Integration in Enterprise Apps
Going forward, social integration will become more purposeful and enable organizations to add context to elements such as profiles, conversation feeds and activity feeds embedded into their ERP software applications.