The Social Network Analyzer prototype unveiled in a previous blog post was available on demand. It can now be downloaded and used within your own organization (or even just on your PC) from the SAP Innovation Center site.
Enterprise social network analysis is clearly an essential part of getting a real return on investment on Web 2.0 technologies within organizations — something that has so far proved difficult.
Today, the “way organizations work” typically has little to do with the official department structures. Organizations are becoming increasingly networked and collaborative, with flat hierarchies, multiple reporting relationships, and a focus on cross-functional initiatives.
Tools like the social network analyzer can help illuminate the “real” organizational structures that are driving the business — and this is essential if we’re to deliver on the promise of translating high-level strategy into low-level execution through aligned objectives.
My company, SAP, has been undergoing extensive reorganization over the last few years — partly because it’s simply the nature of the technology business, but also because of the large BusinessObjects acquistion, and as a reaction to the recent economic downturn.
We have implemented the social network analyzer prototype within our own organization, and users have reported that it’s an extremely valuable tool for discovering links with co-workers. If you find yourself on a call with someone you haven’t yet met, you can not only look up their traditional employee profile, but also find out what other links exist between you, such as the common contacts you both work with.
As with any new technology, getting the full benefits will require changes to way companies work. In particular, there will have to clear ownership of “network relationshp management” within organizations: ensuring that all the right people in the right teams are working together as they should.
This is perhaps a great opportunity for the human resources role to be able to really show the value of people and their interactions to the overall functioning of the company.
Enterprise social network analytics is a step towards the future of “business user applications”, and we should expect to see variants of this type of functionality embedded in almost every corporate application.
When I was growing up, my father always insisted that “business was all about relationships” (I didn’t pay much attention, sadly). But relationships can be complicated, so if you want to have a head start figuring out how your company works, download the prototype and start giving us feedback on how to make it better!