The use of online social media tools in the workplace is a burgeoning area of development for companies creating apps and platforms to boost employee productivity. According to USA Today, the global market for these and similar workplace tools is expected to grow to a $4.5 billion sector by 2016. It was pegged at about $767 million in 2011.
Business social media is not just about how to get workers to be more productive, though. It's about fostering new collaborations and increased creativity. A growing number of business-based social media systems are being built around the concept of collaboration and are successfully bringing team members together.
Here are three examples:
Salesforce Chatter.Chatter, which is part of a larger suite of Salesforce products, lets you interface with all your team members in real-time.
Say you're in the field and you find that a client is understocked. With a tool such as Chatter, you can quickly post to everyone relevant to the problem within your business, and spark a crew-wide decision-making process about how to get those goods to the client. Maybe it's a driver in the next town. Maybe it's backline staff creating a priority shipment via mail or courier. Instead of making a half-a-dozen phone calls, this is the forum where everybody, everywhere, can see and solve day-to-day needs in real-time.
IBM Connections.IBM Connections is another tool for linking experts within your professional realm, and getting everyone on the same page.
Let's say you're a mechanic, solving a particularly tricky engine rebuild. In your network, you have your shop employees and other mechanics, your parts dealer, a couple of junkyards, and several associates who run their own garages. With a tool such as Connections you can connect with all those resources from one central screen—in effect working up conference-level solutions, workarounds and tricks—without having everyone in the garage. You can even have the client join the discussion to explain exactly what he or she is looking for.
Doximity. A more specialized example of how social media platforms are penetrating the workplace is Doximity. Think of it as something akin to Facebook for healthcare professionals. With it, your doctor can plug into an online Web of other physicians. Specialists and those in primary care can trade notes, records, and other kinds of information. Beyond that, Doximity hopes to become a forum among healthcare professionals for the exchange of best practices. And there's a commercial incentive for participants as well: to promote one's services to the medical network at large.
What are you using, when it comes to social-media workplace innovations? Let us know in the comments box below.
O'Brien blogs for numerous clients on topics that include: film, social media, writing, technology, marketing, business, and design. He is a correspondent for Boston University's Research Magazine and for The Commons a journal covering higher-education. He has written extensively as a news correspondent for The Boston Globe. James blogs via Contently.com.