Communicate The Benefits
Once banks do implement internal social media platforms, Maule says the key to getting the most out of them is making sure employees are aware of how to use these tools properly and the benefits of using them. "The financial institutions and other businesses that focus on educating employees and evangelizing these tools they are ones that will win out," he says.
Like Maule, Brian Murray, director of enterprise strategy for San Francisco-based Yammer, a provider of enterprise social products, believes it's ultimately worth it for banks to adopt these tools.
"[Social] is not just something unique to friends and family, but a new way people communicate and it can be really useful for business," Murray says.
Yammer, which was founded in 2008, lets a company's employees join a secure, private social network. The basic version of Yammer is free, and businesses can pay to upgrade their networks to receive advanced administrative and security controls, integration with enterprise applications, priority customer service and a designated customer success manager. It has about 7 million corporate users.
Yammer was acquired by Microsoft in June 2012 for $1.2 billion, and the software giant announced it would integrate the social networking product into its Office 365 service. Murray believes this is a sign that enterprise social media tools are hitting the mainstream in business. He has already seen the way Yammer is used by clients evolve.
"It starts out with Yammer being like the company watercooler, with people using it like a Facebook or Twitter but in a business context," he says. "As it gets embedded, they realize it's a different way of getting their jobs done. You start to see people create groups around projects and for onboarding new employees so they can understand what's going on at the company very quickly. In some ways, you can think of it as the company newspaper. It allows an employee to keep a pulse on the organization really well."
Murray says tools such as those Yammer provides can help businesses achieve great efficiency, and he says some of Yammer's financial services clients are already beginning to do so. For example, Murray says Suncorp Bank, an Australian financial institution, has reduced its email volume by 50% since implementing Yammer.
Murray cites another financial services client, which he declined to name, that uses Yammer to help prep new hires before their start date. "They invite the new hires into this network, and then they can send [the new employees] preparatory paperwork," he says. "Then they are already in the network and can get plugged in to whatever team they are going to be on in the company. That way, it's easy for new employees to get up to speed quickly."
Along those lines, Murray believes the adoption of internal social collaboration tools can also be helpful in recruiting talented younger members of the workforce, who are used to using and interacting in these types of networks.
[Banks Lag in Social Media, Digital Marketing]
Carlisle & Gallagher's Maule agrees about these benefits, especially considering banks' difficulties in recruiting younger technology workers. "I would say having these kind of internal social tools can definitely help recruiting," he says. "The adoption of Twitter as a recruiting tool is already big, and financial institutions realize this and know they have to go down this path."
Psaltos, of Scivantage, concurs, although he believes some banks will embrace social collaboration tools "a bit more out of necessity than as part of a strategic thing." Ultimately, he says, "it's an incredibly efficient way to allow individual users to assert themselves."
Adds Yammer's Murray, "Social has moved from a novelty to the norm."