Given the recent discussions around Pegasus — its high time organizations re-evaluated how employees are informally using WhatsApp (and other informal Social tools) at work and its possible impact on privacy and data security.
Brasstacks first — what is Pegasus? This is an Israeli software that was used to snoop on 1400 devices across 20 countries (some belonging to prominent Indians) using a vulnerability in the WhatsApp voice call feature.
Why should this be a concern for Corporations? Thanks to the ubiquity of WhatsApp — employees tend to use this platform even for official purposes like organizing events / reviewing documents / sharing reactions to key organizational milestones etc. So far, organizations have been accomodative, given the adoption levels of these platforms. But, with the advent of highly-secure yet user-friendly Enterprise Social Network (ESN) tools like Yammer / and Jam — it is now possible to help communities within organizations connect seamlessly and gain traction.
Why are ESNs a better option?
No prizes for guessing that! There are two reasons behind this.
1) All ESNs have an enterprise pedigree eg: Yammer is part of Microsoft / Jam is part of SAP / Chatter is part of Salesforce. These organizations have decades of experience in ensuring Employee Privacy / Data Security — thanks to regulatory guidelines that they have been complying with in multiple geographies and industries.
2) Also, every time an organization implements an ESN — it can customize the product (to a certain extent) to ensure its employees’ privacy and organization’s data security are not compromised.
Non-ESN platforms - designed for individual users cannot provide that capability.
As millenials become a large part of the employee base, they are demanding quicker & user friendly services from their organizations — similar to easily finding a cab on Uber, finding some information on Google, getting that perfect gift on Amazon etc. This is the much talked about — Monday Morning Experience.
While Uber / Google / Amazon provide these customer services by seamlessly connecting all their data to drive AI / ML analytics — the same approach can work with employee data only if employee conversations (which would include queries or request for support) are on an ESN. Now this conversational data can be linked to the organization’s Knowledge Management tool / Helpdesk ticketing system (or any other platform) to provide a response on the Enterprise Social Platform itself. This is key to creating Moments that Matter.
Needless to say, there is no way a non-ESN tool can achieve this - since it will need a deep integration with multiple enterprise systems to provide timely, accurate support.
The Legislative Gap
Specifically in the Indian context, Privacy / Data Security Legislation is still in its infancy. This means that enterprises need to work closely with the ESN vendor during the implementation stage to ensure that the platform is aligned with their internal compliance guidelines and globally acceptable standards (like GDPR).
Organisations cannot get this kind of leverage with non-ESN platforms.
Network Analytics — A Feedback Loop
Perhaps the most important reason to switch to ESNs is the Positive Feedback Loop that can be created by leveraging the analytics generated by these platforms — commonly referred to as, Organization Network Analytics (ONA). The key factor behing this Positive Feedback loop is — a disproportionately small proportion of Influencers in an organization can create a disproportionately high impact on the its operational effectiveness and culture.
ONA takes the conversational data from ESNs and generates analytics like Who are the influencers in my organization? How are my employees responding to a particular event? As a leader — which influencer can I work with to drive a specific message? etc.
These actionable insights can in turn drive up engagement on the ESN > leading to more conversational data > leading to better analytics. Needless to say, once the volume of data crosses a certain threshold — organizations can start applying AI / ML tools to provide predictive capabilities.
This feedback loop is not possible in non-ESN social platforms, because there needs to be tight integration with enterprise systems like HRIS (for getting employee data) and EMail Servers (for triggering behavioural nudges).
ChatBots and the Instituitional Memory
ChatBots are now increasingly becoming a tool-of-choice for “Level Zero Query Resolution”.
What is Level Zero Query Resolution? As organizations grow, it is not feasible to linearly increase HR or Shared Services headcount. The only practical option is to enable an automated solution for employee to ask queries and get a response in real-time. That’s where ChatBots come in. But there is a catch.
What documents will the ChatBot leverage to provide answers? We could provide the organization’s entire corpus of Process / Policy documents. But the follow up question would be — What if some documents get outdated? What about transactional / cultural / event related queries that don’t get captured in documents?
This is exactly where ESNs can help. When employees help answer each others questions on an ESN, they are creating a corpus of FAQs serving as an Instituitional Memory that can help with the “last mile” query resolution which is not possible with formal Policy / Process documents. ChatBots can learn from this Instituitional Memory to provide truly meaningful Level Zero Query Resolution.
Non-ESN tools cannot help here since employees are emphatically told not to have process / policy discussion on these platforms.
Silo Bridging <not> Silo Busting
“Doing away with Silos” seems to be a fashionable corporate refrain these days — but the fact is Silos / Departments are the only way to ensure accountability. But given the velocity of change in the technology landscape and customer expectations — cross-functional agile teams are the only way to respond quickly and effectively. ESNs are ideally positioned for this, since they enable quick creation / deletion of project based groups, sharing / discussing project collateral and most importantly quicker decision making thanks to asynchronous communication (a.k.a fewer meetings!!).
Non-ESN platforms cannot help here since cross-functional projects almost always involve discussing sensitive information — which means project team member end up calling for in-person meetings.
In the words of Winston Churchill — “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.
This crisis of confidence in informal social tools is an opportunity for organizations to take a good look at (tried and tested!) alternatives like ESNs that can help organizations create a sustainable competitive advantage by leveraging it’s most valuable assets — its People. Additionally, these tools can make feedback and support a real-time phenomenon that will take the Employee Experience to the next level.