By David J. Bush, Rootstock Senior Implementation Manager
Combining social media communication within their Cloud ERP solution is becoming a major trend for manufacturers. Until recently, companies carefully limited conversation between those within the organization and those outside of it. According to Mike Gotta, an analyst with Gartner, most of the social integration done in the past was disconnected from enterprise apps. For example, a company might start a forum or a wiki page to provide collaboration opportunities to their employees. But when their conversations on the social platforms were completed, employees had to leave the forum and return to work on their enterprise apps.
Today, that method of communication has been outmoded by the use and technology of social media itself. And leading corporations are taking note, sometimes slowly; other times, full speed ahead. For example, whether espousing LinkedIn for one to one interaction, Twitter for immediacy or Facebook for content sharing, management is now able to more fully involve its employees in all aspects of the company. In fact, Gartner predicts that, by 2016, 50 percent of large organizations will have internal Facebook-like social networks and 30 percent of these will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today.
It is becoming more and more clear that those who take social networking tools to the next step, to further involve their customers, will reap the greatest rewards. In fact, social media is already forcing manufacturers to become more customer-centric. That's because today's connected customers are comparing, selecting and buying products with a tap of a smartphone or tablet. The careful limiting of conversation between those within the organization and those outside of it has been outmoded by the technology itself.
But, it doesn't stop there. Social media has already made its way into the enterprise and many employees are combining social media information into their everyday ERP processes via human resources and CRM modules, albeit in a rather hit or miss manner. In some cases, organizations have set up applications like those that cover exception handling. When something in the supply chain goes wrong, that information, as well as possible solutions, is made available throughout the supply chain to people who can address it.
Companies using the salesforce.com platform already have such tools and capabilities, letting employees talk to and collaborate with each other as well as their vendors and customers.
For instance, Salesforce1 users can build Communities (private portals) to share information with their vendors and suppliers regarding compliance. As a result, everyone receives a “real time” view and issues are addressed immediately. In addition, Salesforce provides ways to present compliance data so that reports are presented specific to the audiences they are intended for, such as government inspectors, board members or employees. Another powerful utility of the Salesforce1 platform is Chatter, a messaging function that lets users communicate with one another. The software will also send messages (Chats) to predetermined people when triggered by an issue with compliance.
At Rootstock, we use this functionality to post comments to our User Group Community to share ideas on how they can most effectively implement and use their Cloud Manufacturing ERP. These postings can be accomplished without leaving the ERP system and they effectively communicate to all users because they are all in the Salesforce cloud.
Research organization IDC assesses that such enterprise social software adoption has "accelerated significantly." This seems to be true in almost all industries as social media continues to become a critical decision-support and worker productivity tool. As they look for ways to increase collaboration and worker productivity and efficiently manage growing volumes of information, companies are turning to social software in growing numbers, IDC says.
Several trends across vertical sectors have emerged, reports London-based research firm Ovum. The retail, hospitality, transportation and technology industries have become early adopters of using social media as a customer service channel. If enterprise leaders don't become more receptive to leveraging social media, "they are going to fall behind and pay the price," the Ovum report advises.