chuck-history[1]How many different profiles do you have out there? I have a Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (two actually), Vine, Instagram and Google+. I even have a yahoo email address floating around out there. I’m sure several of you have many, many more. If you were to remain active on all of these networks, it could be a full time job. So how do we manage them all?

One approach is to ignore some (this seems to be most people’s plan for Google+). More often, though, we employ tools that allow us to combine these networks. Post an image to Instagram? It shows up in your Facebook Timeline and gets Tweeted from your Twitter account. Many smartphones allow you to group you activity streams on one screen so you can see what’s happening at a glance.

The enterprise is pushing up against this issue right now and it could be actually worse than in the public space. Just about every single piece of software available to the enterprise is now coming with some sort of social element. Employees are getting bombarded with tools and profiles that they need to manage in order to communicate. It’s possible on any given day that you may need to check in with Salesforce Chatter, post a question to Yammer, join a discussion within your LMS and collaborate on a document with Sharepoint.

The next big wave in enterprise social technology will be consolidation. I don’t mean companies snapping up other companies, although some of that will probably happen too. But I am talking about organization wanting to boil all of this collaboration and social networking down to one single system of record. We’ve already headed down this road. Outlook allows you to see social network activity from people in your address book, as long as it is all connected. But then Lync allows you to instant message, share screens, attach documents and make calls. There is so much overlap across the different solutions, it can be difficult to dial in on where you will spend the most time. Within the same organization, some employees choose to communicate and share documents solely via email, while others will only use the instant messaging tool. How many important messages have gone to die on Chatter because the person they were for never checks it?

It’s only getting worse. As social tools become more ubiquitous and robust, it’s going to become a challenge to manage all of them and make sure they are being used properly. How important is consolidation? Let’s go back to the public space again for a second. Take a look at RebelMouse. This is a website that allows you to create a profile (you can use an existing one, thankfully) and have your entre social media presence available in one place. Sounds simple enough, right? They just received $10.25 million in funding. And there are a multitude of sites that do essentially the same thing, with more being launched all the time.

So as your organization becomes more social, keep aggregation front of mind. If left unchecked, employees will end up spending half of their days navigating in and out of their various social networks instead of truly collaborating.

David Wentworth

David Wentworth has been a senior research analyst in the human capital field since 2005 and joined the Brandon Hall Group in 2013. He has authored reports and articles on various human capital subjects with an emphasis on workforce technology. He has contributed to several reports published by ASTD, including authoring Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, and Instructional Systems Design Today and in the Future. His work has also appeared in Compensation & Benefits Review and T+D Magazine.