Has the era of the social enterprise finally arrived?

The tech world was abuzz this week with the launch (albeit limited) of the much vaunted Facebook Work platform. Although still only accessible to a handful of corporations, journalists have been busy pondering the significance of this new product, especially how it pertains to Facebook’s bottom line.

I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed by all these discussions. The focus on the basics and the dollars of the platform left little room to talk about the cultural significance of the launch. Yes, you may argue, there have already been articles about the death of email and the era of the social enterprise, but googling this topic today brought limited results.

The lack of discussion around this subject surprised me, especially when you consider its potentially profound implications. Enterprise communication tools have been in what feels like a catatonic state for years. Our willingness to accept the status quo is shocking. We’ve quietly complied with tools such as Outlook and SharePoint for far too long.

Does anyone question whether these tools are actually still fit for purpose? Are they in the best interest of your team and your company?

Looking back over my career, I don’t recall any company talking about harnessing tools to be more collaborative, to be more communicative, to be more productive. Sure, there may be some general rules but nothing platform specific. Often it feels as though the corporate world has blindly accepted the existing tool landscape and not considered how it could be improved.

There can be no doubt that this is now changing. Just take a look at Microsoft’s purchase of Yammer in 2012. Even the giant has awoken to the emergence of the social enterprise. Still, progress to change is slow. For decades, people and corporations have been entrenched in the existing email grind. Holding true to this one tool for global communication.

Thankfully there are visionaries out there — people who understand that there are better ways to work. Ways that not only draw your company closer together, but also make them far more productive. Simply take a look at Salesforce Chatter or Jive to see how social communication can impact upon the workplace.

The appearance of Facebook Work is perhaps the biggest indicator yet that enterprises are moving away from the old guard of corporate communication tools to a more collaborative approach — one that fosters community and accessibility. Indeed, this notion of accessibility mustn’t be overlooked. What further stands these social collaboration tools apart is their app ecosystem. Working seamlessly from your laptop to your tablet to your smartphone is a joyous experience. You always have the data you need readily available. The same cannot be said for SharePoint or other tools hidden behind the corporate firewall.

Still, we have a long way to go. Yes, there is a clear path to follow, but making changes to corporate culture and personal dependence on the familiar tooling landscape is challenging. Pulling an entire company away from Outlook (at least partially) and to Salesforce Chatter or Jive or Facebook Work takes time, patience and a firm belief in the benefits of the social enterprise.

Do you believe in the social enterprise? Has your company adopted these new tools? Are you one of the companies using Facebook Work? Let me know what you think about this topic.