Enterprise Social Networks


Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) – they’re not just about collaboration

Communicating Projects – The Series

By Ann Pilkington

The PR Academy

United Kingdom


We recently conducted some research at PR Academy, led by my co-director Dr Kevin Ruck, to look at the challenges and benefits of using Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs). The following article provides an overview of the report’s findings.

According to Global Industry Analysts, the global market for Enterprise Social Networking is expanding at a rapid rate globally and is forecast to reach US$4.8 billion by 2020. The main objective for ESN deployment is enterprise-wide communication and collaboration. However, associated benefits – such as an improved ability to visualise consumer insights for enhanced decision making and for improving business strategies – are expected to build momentum for ESN solutions. On a more practical communication level, internal social media are forecast to supplant email as the dominant form of workplace communication within a decade. However, despite these predictions, current adoption still seems to be slow and patchy. For example, in research in the US, Cardon and Marshall found that traditional communication channels are used more frequently and are considered more effective for team communication. However, they also found that Gen X and Gen Y business professionals are quite likely to consider social networking tools as the primary means for team communication in the future.


Our research shows that the key challenges to the successful implementation of ESNs mainly relate to the culture of organisations and their readiness to embrace two-way communication. These challenges include encouraging employees to post comments on blogs (68%), getting managers to reply to comments (64%), and gaining buy-in from senior management (62%).


ESN management skills gaps provide evidence of a further barrier to the successful implementation of ESNs. The top five skills gaps cited by respondents include measuring the impact of using ESNs (53%), engaging senior managers to use an ESN (45%), integrating an ESN with other internal communication channels (44%), technical knowledge (42%) and community management skills (36%).


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Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project communications is by Ann Pilkington, founding director of the PR Academy (UK) and author of the book Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. Ann is one of the UK’s leading experts on communications; she shares her knowledge with project managers and teams around the world in this series in the PM World Journal.



About the Author

Ann Pilkington

United Kingdom



Ann Pilkington
is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower in 2013. She is a founding director of the PR Academy which provides qualifications, training and consultancy in all aspects of communication including change project communication and project management.

Information about Ann’s book, Communicating Projects, An End-to-End Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Effective Communication, can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409453192.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

To see previous articles by Ann Pilkington, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/ann-pilkington/