#TipTuesday – Make It Easy to Access

|   Nov 3, 2015

It’s time for tip #9 in my 12-part series on my best advice for building a successful enterprise social network (ESN). This one is related to tip #8 which is “Integrate your ESN where people do their work.” However, that tip focused on the applications and workflow to which people are accustomed. This tip is more about a combo of the behind-the-scenes ease of access as well as the mobility of it. Here is tip #9:

Make it easy to access.

tip9

Of course the integration into other apps discussed in tip #8 is an important part of making the ESN easy to access, but here I want to mention a couple of other specifics that aren’t related to particular applications people may use.

First, ease of access is affected by the simplicity of the login process. Assuming workers have to log in to their work environment, there is really no good excuse for making them continue to log in to additional work-related destinations throughout the day. Few things irritate employees more than having to spend time logging in again and again throughout the day into various systems and applications – especially when nearly all of them are securely behind the company’s firewall in the first place. Such additional logins are considered a gross waste of time.

Therefore, go through whatever effort is required to implement single sign-on processes between your ESN and other internal systems. Work with vendors as needed to do so. If you have not yet decided on an ESN for your company, save yourself some pain and eliminate from consideration those that do not allow for signing in to their product by virtue of a single sign-on process that recognizes and uses the person’s network or other specified credentials. If the ESN is to be used throughout the enterprise and embedded into numerous systems for the sake of access and workflow, then you must eliminate the burdensome hassle of requiring the user to log in multiple times and places in order to use it.

Another major means of making the ESN easy to access is to enable mobile access from the user’s personal and work-issued mobile devices. I realize that there are many types of businesses that are hesitant to enable mobile access to internal resources as a matter of protecting information, but with an increasingly mobile workforce, it is unreasonable to work in 2015 by 20th century practices and standards. Do you want your executives or other workers who are always on the go to be a part of your ESN? (You should – see tip #3.) Then you must have mobile access to your ESN. Do you want to take advantage of flexible work hours and locations expected by today’s workforce? Then meet the expectation that they will be able to get to the resources they need to do their work on the personal devices they carry with them at all times.

Many companies have the luxury of less stringent rules and laws protecting data, and those types of businesses may have a hard time understanding why other companies don’t just open things up and let their people work anytime, anywhere on devices of their choice. But for those of us in highly regulated industries, we know that it’s no small decision or process to enable mobile access to data. That means you’ll have to bring together people from the right business areas, IT, legal, HR and elsewhere to make sure constraints are known and reasonable compromises are made in order to reach the necessary outcome of mobile access. It may take a while to implement, but it can be done securely and in a manner that maintains a good user experience. Anyone who claims otherwise just isn’t willing to consider the possibility regardless of the facts. Believe me, if we can accomplish the mobile piece at our highly regulated healthcare company (which we have), you can do so at yours as well.

So tip #9 is really an extension of tip #8. Making ESN access easy combines the application integration of tip #8 with additional access issues of tip #9 such as reducing logins via single sign-on and allowing mobile access on personal as well as business-issued devices.

Tip #9 is Make it easy to access.

[This post has been modified from the original version first published at jeffrossblog.com.]

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Socialcast by VMware (NYSE: VMW) is a social network for business uniting people, information, and applications with its real-time enterprise activity stream engine. Behind the firewall or in the cloud, Socialcast enables instant collaboration in a secure environment. Socialcast is headquartered in San Francisco, California. www.socialcast.com