Analyzing the Factors Driving the Usage of Enterprise Social Network

Analyzing the Factors Driving the Usage of Enterprise Social Network

Prerna Lal (International Management Institute, Delhi, India)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSODIT.2016070102
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Connectivity and networking benefits of social media platforms have motivated organizations to deploy similar model in an organizational setting in the form of Enterprise Social Network (ESN) with an objective to increase collaboration among employees. Further, ESN is considered more relevant in today's digital business environment where organizations have to deal with collaboration and communication challenges faced by teams that have members operating from different locations and time zones. Once the ESN is implemented the next challenge for the organization is to ensure the participation of employees and keeping them motivated to use ESN for interacting with their peers. This paper aims to elucidate the factors that influence employees' decision to use ESN in the context of Indian organizations. In this study, a conceptual model is developed on the theoretical grounding of the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology theory, Technology-Organization-Environment framework, Social Capital theory and Critical Mass theory. This study proposes that employees' ESN usage behavior is driven by individual factors (i.e. perceived usefulness and perceived enjoyment), organizational factors (i.e. top management support, facilitating conditions, and collaborative norms), as well as social factors (i.e. perception of the critical mass). Data was collected using questionnaire survey method. According to the data analysis of this study, all the six factors were found statistically significant. While, support from top management was identified as the most significant factor that encourages the use of ESN, followed by the perception of critical mass regarding the usage of ESN in an organization.
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Last few years have witnessed the shift of social technologies from consumer space into organizations (Forrester Consulting, 2010). Organizations are now investing in social technology platforms commonly known as “Enterprise Social Network” (ESN) that can encourage employees across the whole organization in generating, consolidating and sharing information, in addition it also provides a platform to find, connect and interact with each other (Drakos, Mann & Gotta, 2014). Some of the prominent examples of ESNs include tibbr, Yammer, Chatter, and Socialcast that represents the new wave of change in the manner information technology (IT) is used for collaboration in an organization. Recent times have observed increase in the organizational investment on the technology platforms that foster collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing among employees specially on enterprise social network (ESN). Gartner expects that by 2016, around 50 percent of large organizations will have internal social networks like Facebook, and around 30 percent of these will be considered as an essential component of organizational communication (Gartner, 2013). Additionally, Forrester also predicted that the market for social enterprise apps and related services will reach around $6.4 billion by 2016 (Dewing, McCarthy, Mines, Schadler, & Yamnitsky, 2011).

Organizations are using ESN for a variety of objectives that differs in formality and openness. For example, in some organizations the objective is to use ESN for interaction between project teams for coordination and sharing information, while other organizations may use ESN for sharing organizational best practices in addition to encouraging information exchange between employees across the organization (Drakos, Mann & Gotta, 2014). In sum, organizations try to make ESN part of their existing workflows and business processes. However, this can be possible only if employees are engaged and motivated enough to use ESN for their day-to-day communication and collaboration with their team members or co-workers (CIO, 2013).

With organizations expanding geographically there is significant change being observed in the way organizational teams communicate and collaborate. The majority of these changes are contributed by the advancement of information technologies that help employees to stay connected with the members of their team despite location and time constraints. Study conducted by Ferrazzi Greenlight, reports that out of 1,700 knowledge workers surveyed, around 79% workers reported working always or frequently in dispersed teams and are always connected through laptops, Wi-Fi, and mobile phones (Ferrazzi, 2014). Moreover, Teams have grown considerably in size over the past few years irrespective of the industry an organization operates in. One of the key reasons resulting in the increase of team size is the inclusion of experts from all around the world that represents a diverse body of knowledge. However, studies suggest that managing collaboration in teams having more than 20 members becomes a challenge (Gratton & Erickson, 2007). One way organizations deal with this is to invest in technology platform that can provide different ways of interaction for increasing communication and collaboration among team members across the organization (Gratton & Erickson, 2007). This is where ESN can play a significant role in enabling relationship building, information sharing, problems solving, project management, and task coordination within teams (Richter & Riemer, 2012).

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