Is it time to bin the Enterprise Social Network?

As anyone who follows my ramblings will know, I’m a huge believer in the value of the Enterprise Social Network and more specifically the Analytics that can be applied on top. So what’s my point? Am I doing a 180 degree? Definitely not :-)

Last week I had the pleasure of spending a day in London shooting the breeze with a bunch of vociferous, opinionated, knowledgeable, skeptical, and insightful analysts. I was sharing “A Point of View on the impact of Social Network Analytics for the Enterprise” with five key points driving the conversation:

  1. The future of Analytics is all about Interactions
  2. The most interesting part of Social is what it leaves behind
  3. The Enterprise Social Network needs a lot more “Enterprise”
  4. IBM has been leading the way in leveraging Social & Bigdata Analytics to transform it’s own business
  5. These real world experiences are informing our vision for the future and helping us bring our clients on this journey

The analysts in return provided some great feedback and raised a number of thought provoking questions. One comment that seemed to crop up consistently across all the analysts was that “Social is so last year” (to paraphrase); not said in the context of social no longer being relevant, but rather that the term had such negative connotations. It would appear that there is such a strong semantic link between “social networks”, “social media”, and “time wasting” that pre-pending enterprise didn’t carry enough weight to make the concept believable for the enterprise.

So what’s our option? (a) Try to break this industry-wide semantic link, which is highly unlikely to happen, or (b) Find another term that does resonate with the enterprise.

We had lots of fun during the day coming up with various alternatives; some good, some bad, and some completely hilarious. My favorite by far (courtesy of one of the analysts) was the Business Interaction Network (bin). Now what’s so funny about storing your business interactions in the bin? Well, in the UK & Ireland a bin is a garbage can, so this term conjured up some interesting images and catch phrases :-) However, after some thought I am really starting to like this term.

The Business Interaction Network is in fact exactly what we want the #ESN to be. It evokes a sense of something which is much more focused on the business environment, where all interactions irrespective of where they happen — your social network, business applications, collaboration tools, or transactional records — contribute to the network. A network which effectively becomes the “memory of an organization”.

Our friends from the Oxford English Dictionary refer to the bin as a capacious receptacle for storing a specified substance where capacious means having a lot of space inside, which perfectly describes my big data graph store which is where I like to dump all my interactions before I start analyzing them. Woohoo!!! The term works :)

So maybe what started out as a joke is a perfect way of describing the enterprise graph. Maybe we should all dump our ESNs and start dumping our interactions into the bin.

10 Responses to “Is it time to bin the Enterprise Social Network?”

  1. Marie, Thoroughly enjoyed your blog post on to BIN or not to BIN :). The Business Interactive Network is a much more apt description.


  2. Glad you liked the ‘bin’ idea Marie. When I get around to it I planned to write something about it, but you did a much better job than I would have done I am sure :)


    • Thanks for suggesting it. lnitially l just thought it funny but I’ve since fallen in love with the term as you will have gathered from the post :-) l know that lightening rarely strikes twice, but if you can find me a good term to replace “analytics” I’ll love you forever :-)


  3. Ooops – sorry, seemed to have commented twice! Analytics …. hmmmmm


  4. Hi Marie,

    I’m always interested to consider new and better terms to describe Enterprise Social Networking. I don’t believe that the current popular terms describe the product or concept accurately or uniquely enough that people get it (like email = electronic mail). Whenever I’m presenting to a group of people I always mention that social does not mean fun communication about Friday night drinks; it means 2 way interaction between employees in a closed community.

    I do quite like Business Interaction Network however I’m not quite sold. I’m getting stuck on the word ‘Interaction’ – it is a good word and it’s definitely accurate however it just seems a little too clumsy and perhaps robotic. I’m imagining our younger workers snickering about jumping onto (or into) the BIN or the ‘Interaction Network’.

    Furthermore, I’m not very fond of the word Network because it makes me think of only communication instead of productivity tools and applications. To me, Network describes profiles, groups, private messages and activity streams. I advocate the future of ESN around business process and workflow to actually get work done both with inbuilt applications (such a project management tools) or system integrations.

    I really hope we’ll eventually find the perfect term that says it all. In the meantime I’m going to start integrating BIN into my vocab just incase you guys have hit onto something here ;-)

    Rgds, Anthony Zets from


    • I totally agree with all your points, and I am similarly “on the fence” around what is the best new term to describe the network/graph/data/… that captures what happens between people and processes across the business. We similarly giggled at the double entendre of the “BIN”, but we’d run out of ideas at that stage. Some people are talking about the “work graph” of which I’m not a huge fan. So far all the terms out there are a real compromise.

      But for now, I believe the important thing is to just DO IT and worry about what we call it afterwards :-)



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