Equinox Consulting

Analysis – Enterprise Social Networking (ESN): A Revolution in Collaborative Work

Kenza Benmakhlouf at 2015-09-28 in Décryptage

With a view to improving operational efficiency, more and more French companies are keen on embracing Enterprise Social Networks. ESN is among the 3 key digital initiatives of French companies[i] in 2015, right behind conventional intranet, and collaborative platforms.What are the benefits of such a business tool and how to use it successfully?

[i] Observatoire de l’intranet et de la stratégie numérique, 2015

A tool gaining popularity among French companies…

Similar to public social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Enterprise Social Network allows each member to create a customised profile highlighting their skills and interests, to join one or more communities and to follow and comment on the company’s current affairs (activities, key decisions, on-going projects etc.).

Till date, 32 groups among the ‘CAC 40’ index claim having at least one ESN[i] and in general, 53% of French companies either already use ESN or plan to implement it[ii]. Enterprise Social Network is gradually making its place in the French workplace. It is the only digital initiative whose penetration rate has continuously increased in companies over the past two years[iii].

[i] Etude Lecko, 2015 [ii] Observatoire Arctus, 2014 [iii] Observatoire Arctus, 2014

 réseau social entreprise 1Source: Image from Fb@work, Techcrunch

… encouraging mutually-beneficial collaborations for all stakeholders

French banks, like all large groups, have a natural tendency to operate in silo mode. The creation of Enterprise Social Network can help them open up, among many other things.

The adoption and appropriate use of ESN by employees could be beneficial in several aspects:

  • It boosts innovation and creativity while simultaneously encouraging real-time collaboration and sharing, through a smoother and faster exchange of information streams, at any time and from anywhere;
  • It sets a new standard for the company’s hierarchical organisation by putting emphasis on everyone’s skills, which can now be accessed directly;
  • By enabling real-time involvement in multiple projects and regular communication on the company’s decisions, ESN fosters a greater sense of belonging among employees vis-à-vis the company.

Among the bancassurance players in France, SG Communities has certainly been the greatest success story since its launch in 2013.


réseau social entreprise 2Source: Arctus study, 2014

SG Communities, Société Générale’s pioneering and inspiring network

As part of the ‘Ambition SG 2015’ initiative, Société Générale announced the launch of its internal social network, promoted by the Communication Department, as early as 2013.

To encourage employees to use SG communities, and avoid the « blank page » effect in the first year of its launch, SG relied on a broader communication across all the Group’s entities and benefited from a high level of involvement from the Executive Committee. Its members became the Network’s ambassadors, regularly mentioning it in their interactions with employees, and encouraging the management to promote its use. The number of subscriptions rose from 3,500 at the official launch in February 2013 to 8,000 in April 2013. A true achievement within 3 months!

Between May and June 2013, SG Communities launched PEPS (Collaborative, Inspirational and Experimental Project), a novel initiative aiming to consult its entire employee base for (co)creation of tomorrow’s bank. All employees of the Group were invited to give their opinion on the impact of digital transition on the behaviour patterns of 3 domains (customer relationship, employee working conditions, bank’s IS) which resulted in more than 1,000 suggestions from 19 different countries. This excellent initiative has greatly contributed to the success of the social network and to its massive adoption by employees.

With participation numbers exceeding 39,000 members in 2014, the next step for ESN is to go « mobile, mobile, mobile » according to Jean-Paul Chapon, head of Société Générale’s Digital Communication & e-Reputation[i].

[i] Madmagz, 2014

réseau social entreprise 3Source: Arctus study, 2014

A human investment, above all!

Even though several banks in France have launched their own ESN or plan to do so in the near future, very few of them wish to communicate on this topic, given that results are perhaps moderately satisfactory …

BNPP employees have been using BNP Paribas People since 2012, and in 2015, Crédit Agricole also launched a new social network, « Chorale RS », customised for its various regional banks and for internal use only (after that of CASA in 2010).

With multiple development solutions at hand (Microsoft, Salesforce, Jive and soon « Facebook at work  » and LinkedIn), the success of Enterprise Social Network does not stop at its launch. As for any new infrastructure, its adoption requires a high level of involvement from the Management, customised change management support from the HR function, and continuous communication before its implementation and throughout the use of such an infrastructure.


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Kenza Benmakhlouf   Kenza

Senior Consultant

Digital, Retail and SFS

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