One observation I have made about the launch of our ESN at SAS is that it seemed as if a lot of people were waiting for it. For about five to six years, a growing number of people had engaged on external social networks (company policy specifically allowed this under certain guidelines), and there was more and more activity internally, as well. The first internal blogs at SAS were started around 2005.
Some managers took a little longer than others to get used to and endorse this new communication tool, but more and more of them opened up and started seeing the opportunities in blogging, despite some of the dangers they saw. After all, most potential pitfalls of such blogging usually never even manifest themselves at the level that social media skeptics might fear.
After the blogs, other tools like wikis and even an internal twitter application came about, all of them gaining more and more users. Those tools laid the foundation for a full ESN since they made more people used to social media tools and increased awareness of some of its unique aspects and benefits. Those early adopters were an important group as evangelizers and drivers once the full platform was rolled out.
At SAS, those first tools were not fully integrated with each other. Most of them were simple, from a technological point of view. The key was that it was easy to get your own blog, for example, and that the procedures did not stand in the way of sharing content. The first main focus was ...