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    5 Tips for Integrating Social Collaboration into Your HR Department

    When it comes to the workplace, there is no better place for social collaboration. The ability to share and discuss in a real-time platform makes collaboration and everyday communication easier and more effective.

    While everyone in the office will benefit from social integration, the process should start in your HR department. While HR software has evolved immensely over the years, social platforms allow the entire office to work as one in the most efficient way. From onboarding new Millennial employees, to collecting important paperwork, your human resources department has the most to gain from social.

    The Onboard Process

    While many HR professionals have moved to the world of social media to find the right candidates, it’s the onboarding process that has much to gain from social opportunities. Experts here at SocialText.com have previously discussed opportunity within the onboarding process, suggesting, “Social tools can be used to streamline the processes associated with bringing on a new hire and provide a better overall experience.” So, how can you integrate the process in your business?

    • Adapt to learning styles: Not every new hire will move at the same pace or adapt as quickly as one another. Thus, using a social onboarding process allows them to take time outside of work to go through the process instead of using all in-house materials only available within the office.
    • Include everyone: New employees may often feel lost in a sea of new faces and duties. When utilizing social onboarding you can include everyone within the company.

    Sharing Documentation

    Your HR department is responsible for more paperwork than they’d like to be. From standard business insurance forms to emergency contact info and scheduling, the process of manually filling out forms and keeping them in up to date is inefficient, costing you time and money. A social program may allow employees to view, hand-in and edit important information themselves.

    • Record keeping: Even with as little as 50 employees, it can be time consuming to update records as changes happen; a social program can improve that process. For example, employees can update spousal and address changes themselves from within your social program. This takes work out of your HR department’s hands and lets employees take charge of this important information themselves.

    Internal Social Networks

    While standard business practices have much to gain from social collaboration, your culture can benefit even more so. Your employees utilize a variety of social networks outside of work to stay in touch with friends and family, so why not bring a similar platform into the office.

    Utilizing social within the office not only improves collaboration but allows your employees to connect with one another on a level that is familiar to them. There are a number of ways you can do this.

    • Popular networks: Networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to have private groups, and this is a great place to gather your employees. Here you can share company photos and encourage conversation.
    • In-office documents: Real-time editing and sharing makes your office move most efficiently throughout the day; no documents lost to inbox overload, etc.

    While our personal lives are getting more social with each new network, so is the business world. With younger employees joining the workforce in large numbers, it’s important that finding the most efficient and effective way to engage them while maintaining standard business practices; social collaboration within your HR department is a smart way to achieve that all important balance.

    Jessica Sanders, a guest contributor to the Socialtext blog, is an avid small business writer. As the marketing copyeditor of www.ResourceNation.com, she touches on a range of topics such as business management. Find Resource Nation on Facebook, too!

    Socialtext – All Gassed Up and Stepping on the Accelerator

    Socialtext Receives Cash Infusion to Further invest in the Future of Social Collaboration

    The enterprise social software space has seen tremendous growth and innovation over the past few years. This is beginning to contribute to the demise of information and knowledge silos previously seen in corporations. With this, enterprises have been able to unlock and release information and knowledge across teams, groups, departments, functional organizations, business units, and even across company boundaries. Breaking down silos of all types is our vision for the future for enterprise social collaboration.

    Today I am pleased to announce that we at Socialtext have taken a huge step towards our vision by receiving a significant strategic cash infusion by Bedford Funding, the $1.4 billion private equity firm behind Talent Management Solution provider, Peoplefluent™. The infusion of capital that we are receiving will accelerate the development of our industry-leading enterprise social collaboration tools and augment sales efforts for both sides. We will ramp up hiring in all areas, and will also serve as the new Silicon Valley hub for Peoplefluent.

    With this partnership, both Socialtext and Peoplefluent customers can now experience all the benefits of becoming a social enterprise has to offer. Deploying a Social Intranet inside your company can help you avoid the fate of information silos; more importantly, you can inject data, transactions, reports, and objects from your core enterprise applications into the social stream – by deploying what we refer to as the “Social Layer” within the enterprise architecture. The layer will span all employees across all organizational boundaries and be the connector to key enterprise applications beneath it in the architectural stack. Our initial approach to enabling the Social Layer was our introduction of Socialtext Connect, which we will continue to extend with Peoplefluent.

    The talent management industry has quickly adopted the use of social software to get work done in a more convenient way. Peoplefluent will put Socialtext to work and are planning for a strategic software integration, which will allow employees to incorporate the solution into their daily workflows. Socialtext will continue to act, sell and service its social software customers independently and without interruption. Here’s what Charles S. Jones, Managing Director of Bedford Funding and Chairman and CEO of Peoplefluent™ had to say:

    We are investing in Socialtext to help solidify its leadership position in enterprise social software. Our recent strategies have focused on creating solutions for our customers that enable greater employee engagement and collaboration across the enterprise. This investment in Socialtext, and its industry leading social software, immediately advances our approaches in customer support, service, education and ongoing collaboration.

    At Socialtext, we strive to provide a social software SaaS solution that delivers a resource for customers to communicate, collaborate on internal projects and connect on the information necessary to be more effective in the workplace. Our unique deployment model – all SaaS, but either public or private cloud – meets companies’ specific and unique security requirements, while making sure companies still reap the benefits of software as a service (SaaS) — including fast deployment, fast iteration cycles, little or no maintenance and low total cost of ownership. With this, Peoplefluent will have the ability to simplify the exchange of ideas and corporate data, therefore knowledge silos that traditionally hampered them will be removed.

    Moving forward, we are excited to be expanding our internal workforce, and will continue to adapt and produce an innovative product based on our customers’ feedback. With an increase in resources, we will be able to offer an even better customer service experience and expand on our priority of enabling customers to achieve business value, as well as adoption. After all, at Socialtext our methodology emphasizes the importance of identifying business champions through partnership with our customers and through implementation to ensure they are experiencing maximum business results, which will only increase as we join the Bedford and Peoplefluent family.

    Forrester Research: How Socialtext Customer Hayes Knight Built the Social Layer

    Last June, Eugene, our CEO, delivered a keynote talk at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston called “The Social Layer.” The concept was simple: Social software should be a layer of technology that spans an entire organization, pulling together relevant people, content and systems of record in one easy place. It wasn’t about us or any one vendor; it was about moving the industry forward.

    To do our part, however, we introduced Socialtext Connect, an integration technology that lets you surface critical events from enterprise applications (CRM, ERP, etc.) and inject them into the Socialtext platform, where employees from across your organization can collaborate and take action. To get started, we delivered two pre-built integrations to Microsoft SharePoint and Salesforce.com.

    But Rob Koplowitz, the lead Enterprise 2.0 analyst at Forrester Research, didn’t just have to take our word for it: In his latest research note, Rob and his team featured Hayes Knight, a customer of ours in Australia that has used Connect to integrate key systems of record with Socialtext, including a homegrown job management system (built on Microsoft .Net) and CRM data from Salesforce.com. (The Forrester report focuses on the first system, and we have a blog post on the CRM integration, which enables Hayes Knight to serve customers 50 percent faster).

    When I visited Hayes Knight’s headquarters in Sydney back in November, I remember being amazed at how much they’d done with Socialtext Connect and our REST API. At the time, Jack Pedzikiewicz, our champion there, told me his favorite part of our platform was its flexibility, and this report does a great job of highlighting it.

    A quick except:

    Every trend needs a trailblazer, and in the case of establishing an integrated social layer that facilitates core operation processes, Hayes Knight is at the forefront. A group of companies offering accounting, business strategy, and complex tax services, Hayes Knight makes its living from the production and distribution of high-end knowledge. And it does so in Australia, one of the strictest compliance environments in the world.

    Like most organizations, Hayes Knight has legacy systems in place to handle key business functions. Yet most systems were largely transactional in nature, and Hayes Knight’s work product was anything but transactional. Jack Pedzikiewicz took on the task of turning the culture to one of knowledge capture, sharing, and collective decision-making while maintaining the context provided by the company’s core business systems.

    Pedzikiewicz targeted several of Hayes Knight’s core business processes for the initiative. Bridging the structured business systems and the new enterprise social capabilities through rich and deep integration was the key technical capability. After exploring the capabilities of multiple core business systems, his primary criteria for product assessment focused on the APIs provided to get information in and out of the system. He landed on Socialtext as the best platform to achieve his goals.

    Meanwhile, at Socialtext we’ve remained focused on moving our part of the Social Layer story forward (see an article today in CMSWire). We’ve not only been developing our own features, but we’ve been working with customers in our SocialDev community to help them create the integration they require to run their businesses. The best part of the community is that customers are sharing code and ideas among themselves, without us even having to be involved.

    I know I speak on behalf of the entire Socialtext team in saying that we’re thrilled Jack and his team got the recognition they deserved in this important research note. And we’re looking forward to more social layer stories going forward.

    Socialtext 4.5 Provides Integration With Salesforce.com

    Last week at Enterprise 2.0 in Santa Clara, we announced our newest application integration offering: the Socialtext Connector for Salesforce.com.

    In the following video interview, you’ll see how openly sharing events from business applications like Salesforce, allows everyone in your company to benefit from the information, as well as contribute to the important activities that drive your business.

    E2TV host David Berlind asks some great questions about how Socialtext Connect differs from other vendor’s offerings. I hope my answers make it clear why Socialtext is the best solution for your business. If you have any questions or feedback, please add a comment below.

    Video Interview: Socialtext Co-Founder Ross Mayfield on Eliminating Knowledge Silos

    At the Enterprise 2.0 Conference this week, the Socialtext team has been very focused on how companies can build a social layer across their organizations to eliminate information silos that hamper business performance. Socialtext Connect, for example, allows companies to take events from systems of record (CRM, ERP, etc.) across their company, and inject them as streams inside of Socialtext’s social software platform — where employees can discuss, collaborate, and take action in real-time.

    Our president and co-founder, Ross Mayfield, sat down for this video interview with Joshua Hoffman of Research Access, where he discussed how Connect can tear down knowledge silos to accelerate business performance. Ross also provided a little history about the evolution of BarCamp

    Forrester Webinar Tomorrow: How Your Company Can Build a Social Layer

    Back in June, we launched Socialtext Connect, an offering that enables companies to integrate social software with their traditional systems of record, such as ERP or CRM. The idea behind Connect is that social software should be a layer that integrates all applications together seamlessly, not a feature that is added to each standalone application

    Tomorrow at 1 p.m. eastern, we’ll be co-hosting a free webinar about the social layer with Forrester Research and NYU Stern, a Socialtext customer that is integrating its critical business applications with our social software platform. Forrester’s lead Enterprise 2.0 analyst Rob Koplowitz will give an overview of how companies are thinking about the social layer, and NYU Stern’s Van Williams will give practical examples of how his organization is building one.

    We look forward to hearing Rob and Van’s insights, and we’ll conduct an open Q&A at the end with attendees.

    The Social Layer Needs Both Line of Business and IT

    If you want to understand just how social technologies will increase in their pervasiveness across the modern workplace, then you should read Lee Bryant’s post on social layering today. Lee works for Headshift, a consultancy in the Dachis Group focused on social business design.

    The idea behind the social layer is simple: Just like any piece of technology, social software should be a layer in your enterprise architecture that surfaces the events of a company’s systems of record — and enable employees to collaborate and take action on  information (be it human or machine generated) in real-time. It was the premise behind the launch of Socialtext Connect, our offering that lets companies build their own social layer.

    Here’s one excerpt from Lee’s post I especially liked:

    At the base of the enterprise IT stack, we have expensive, slow-moving technology such as document management systems, ERP systems, databases and so on, which we might change every 3-5 years, if at all. They are good at the heavy lifting and underlying processes that many businesses need, but often very poor at user experience. Assuming these systems expose APIs and data sharing, which most these days do, we can layer on a slightly lighter, slightly faster moving layer of social sharing capabilities such as social networking, collaboration, micro-blogging, wiki engines, etc.

    What Lee describes here as the social layer represents a far different approach than tacking social features onto each of those traditional systems of record and the select employees who have access to them, which would further reinforce the idea of walling employees off from people and information across their company that could help them do their jobs better.

    Just as importantly, Lee’s post appeals to those of us who want to see better alignment between line of business and IT concerning the implementation, adoption and achievable business value of social software.

    If IT departments can continue to own and manage underlying enterprise IT platforms, but expose APIs and data, then business users can define, provision and run their own social applications at the top of the stack without having to defer to IT for every decision they make, or work at a slower pace and in a more constrained way than they need. Based on our experience of the difficulties of implementing social business tools within existing IT department frameworks and culture, this would be a huge win for all concerned, and where we are using this approach, we find it solves a lot of issues and concerns on both sides.

    Line of business of people are critical to the success of social software because they can identify specific pain points that can be remedied by social technologies. IT plays a critical role around areas of security, compliance and architecture, and you must work with them to make social a layer, not just a feature in the enterprise architecture.

    On Wednesday, our lead developer Luke Closs will be leading a webinar that will detail the inner-workings of Socialtext Connect. We hope to see as many of you there as possible.

    About This Blog

    Weblog on gaining business results from social software.

    On this blog, Socialtext staffers and customers explore how companies can gain the most business value from their use of enterprise social software, including microblogging, social networking, filtered activity streams, widget-based dashboards, blogs and wikis.

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