Yes, there is a solid and consistent reason for not implementing an internal Corporate Social Network (ICSN) and it is very simple:
An ICSN won’t solve the communication problems in your organization.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
- If in your company communication flows poorly and badly, a ICSN is not going to fix it.
- If the communication is one-way and “those at the top” are not interested in what “those at the bottom” think, a ICSN is not going to convince them otherwise.
- If there is no transparency and the information reaches the people by rumors or external sources rather than through internal channels, that organization with its brand-new ICSN will have exactly the same problems.
- If you have a corporate culture of “information is power” and of independent and isolated silos, an ICSN will not change your knowledge management nor will make it flow and be shared.
- If there is no real teamwork, with a ICSN it will not appear from nothing.
- If with your current tools you do not care about talent management or to find the intrapreneurs (they are there for sure), you will not do it using a ICSN.
In the same way that a CRM is not going to put customers at the heart of your organization, will not update your data, is not going to improve your customer service nor will increase your chances of cross-selling if previously you have not put in place structural changes in your business strategy and service.
Because the tools are just that: tools. They are not magic. They do not solve the problems.
No, unfortunately it isn’t so easy.
I have participated in the implementation of ICSN in very large multinational organizations where the only use that has been given of this network is to share photos between fans of photography and tips and tricks among fans of mountain bikes. After huge investments, nothing that they were not already doing in non corporate networks. There was no demand, there was no use.
I have witnessed implementation of ICSN to channel a huge stream of communication in organizations eager to share and interact. After minimum investment, nothing that they were not already doing using tools publicly available. There was demand and thanks to the ICSN usage was structured.
Organizations spin around communication. Outward, inward, the one which flows from the top, the one which comes from below and, above all, the one which holds the daily needs to achieve corporate objectives.
To speed up the latter, e-mail meant a revolution in the early 90s. Revolution which began in corporate environments and gradually extended to the personal sphere. Many had access to a professional e-mail address before we had a personal one.
Today there are much more powerful and efficient tools than email, and I think that calling them “Social networks” undermine them in the eyes of many who, when they hear those two words, are actually listeninig “people wasting time”, possibly because unlike email, its use has spread first in the personal relationships and then we are seeing it enter the professional ones. It should not be so, we should not have these prejudices. For this reason I prefer to call them just that: communication tools.
But in any case, tools are only a tools, and the people are the ones that, as always, are going to make a difference. And if people don’t have it clear, a ICSN is not going to do it for them.