By Haley Deleon
For the past few years, social enterprise resource planning has been a topic of debate: Is it worthwhile or not? At first, some wondered whether it was just a phase. Increasingly, however, ERP vendors and users have come to realize that social ERP is a viable approach to increasing efficiency and creating better business strategies. Many ERP vendors have already incorporated social ideas and tools into their software and applications. But what exactly is social ERP, and how can it benefit your organization?
What is Social ERP?
Many employees are accustomed to the instant communication that is provided by social media, and they work best when answers and information are instantaneously available. Especially with the younger workforce, a socially connected enterprise enables employees to collaborate with each other and interact with customers in a way with which they’re familiar.
Although some companies are integrating their offerings with online tools like Twitter and Facebook, the real benefits can come when ERP mimics the functionality of these popular social networking tools. This is usually in the form of a private or public suite of apps or capabilities that the vendor provides. Organizational social tools are either integrated into the ERP system or available as add-ons.
What Types of Tools Are There?
ERP software or add-ons with social media-styled functionality can include a variety of applications, including Facebook-like interfaces that allow employees to access data and other information. Message boards and chat features can increase productivity and collaboration. Streaming social feeds, blogs, tagging and sharing capabilities, and polls allow employees to interact with technology just as they do outside of business hours.
Apps can enable collaboration and the widespread dissemination of information. Company wikis can allow information on a specific group of products, customers or processes to be collected in a single place that is accessible to anyone in the organization at any time. Employees can add their knowledge, edit information that has changed and search for specific data in the wiki to provide a service or product to meet customer needs.
What Tools are Right for my Enterprise?
Selecting the right tools for your enterprise depends on your specific business and industry. Examine how the tools will integrate with the businesses processes to drive results and collaboration, and how they will affect standard workflow. What tools best fit the needs of the organization and help achieve these goals?
In addition, when used improperly, social media in an ERP setting can become a distraction and hindrance just as it can in a non-work setting. Crafting clear and informative policies and guidelines on how and when to use social media functions as part of ERP solutions should help prevent abuse.
What are the Benefits?
Effectively utilizing social capabilities that match business goals and needs can increase collaboration, brand awareness and organizational flexibility, as well as foster continuous improvement and inclusive decision-making.
Although more than 70% of companies use some form of social technology, few have tapped into its full potential, according to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute. Organizations that realize the maximum value of such technologies could boost employee productivity by up to 25%, the management consulting firm estimated.
Social ERP can allow companies to better tap into the knowledge of their employees, and streamline, capture and analyze communications between employees and customers. Social technologies can allow companies to be more responsive to client needs, more effective in problem resolution, and more efficient and timely in communicating with workers and customers alike.
Social ERP is becoming a normal component of enterprise resource planning. Choose social tools according to organizational goals, and social ERP could yield positive outcomes for business processes and collaboration within your enterprise.