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So many enterprise social networks: Which one is right for you?

Enterprise · Social Networks · Enterprise social networks have been a welcomed innovation that gives companies the ability to improve how they engage with their employees, customers, and partners.

When these networks are truly integrated within business applications, where people actually do their work, this is simply more than a new feature. It represents a fundamental shift from a record centric application view focused on forms and efficiency, to a collaborative team centric experience where companies see major productivity gains.

With so many enterprise social networks available – Chatter, Jive, Yammer, Lithium, etc.- which solution is right for you?

  • Where do you start?
  • What business process?
  • What users?

The following are some considerations, which may help you decide the right enterprise social application for your company:

 Factor      Consider
Intended Audience
  • Internal Employees
  • Customers
  • Partners
  • Prospects
  • Hybrid/ combination of all the above
Business Purpose
  • Customer Service
  • Sales productivity
  • Cross organization collaboration & file sharing
  • Community collaboration & file sharing
Majority of Conversations Centered Around
  • Records in a CRM or ERP system: E.g. Opportunity, case, lead etc
  • Free form unstructured data such as a community site
Solution Age
  • Applications that have been around longer (e.g. Jive, Lithium) generally started with outside community moderation and are now looking for ways to impact enterprise systems of record
  • Newer applications (e.g. Chatter, Yammer) started within the enterprise and capabilities to touch external audiences came later
Application Landscape
  • Is there a dominant ‘anchor tenant’ application used by a majority of enterprise users? (e.g. Salesforce, SharePoint)
  • What applications, if any, are currently used to support external communities and what is the adoption of these communities relative to their potential?
  • Applies equally well to external or internal communities where you want to reward contributors that consistently provide great input/ answers

So the application you choose really does depends on many factors. We challenge our customers to take a visionary, longer term approach to how social network applications can transform their business across their employees, partners, customers, and the public at large. Not every product will have every feature, but look at the innovation trajectory and vision of each of the vendors to help you make your choice. We believe the most important decision factor to consider is if social network solution is integrated seamlessly with your business applications, where people actually work. If not, we believe that adoption and success will lag.

It will be no surprise to you that Perficient is excited about Salesforce Chatter. What is especially encouraging is the degree to which Salesforce Chatter is evolving to encompass outside constituents. Chatter Customer Groups was a useful first step for external collaboration, but a much more powerful (future) feature is Chatter Communities, which take Chatter to the next level by allowing people to collaborate in a social way with their customers, partners, and any defined community. We will write more extensively about Chatter Communities over the coming months.

Contact Perficient for a free consultation on how Chatter can help transform your business.

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Andrew ODriscoll

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