The term 'Enterprise Social Network' is getting bandied about quite a lot of late. It sounds a bit techie, but it's really not. Enterprise Social Network (ESN) is a term that emcompasses social networking tools and software, some of which are used internally in organisations such as Sharepoint. However, ESNs also include the new wave of public social networking websites that allow people to connect, collaborate and share information on subjects of interest. Yammer and Socialcast are two popular examples. These websites can facilitate groups both within and outwith organisations. Distinguishing features of ESNs include:
- Real-time conversations that are constantly updated by members of the network
- 'About me' information, including photo
- The ability to upload resources / documents
- The ability to create private groups for both internal and external membership. (In the case of external groups, external members do not have access to the main organisational network)
- Polling tools to get answers to questions and to elicit feedback
- Real-time chat function
Both Yammer and Socialcast provide similar features and functionality. Both free and paid-for versions are available and mobile apps for these tools can be installed on smartphones and tablets.