Any social media platform usually wants to become the center of your universe. Facebook would love it if you turned off anything but Facebook and just spent all your time there. They would love you to make it your browser’s starting page, the first app in the list on your smartphone, and really the only place you think of going if you want to communicate with your friends and family.

But reality looks a little different. Most users on a social media platform have other channels they use for communication. This is true on an external platform as much as it is internal in organizations. And if that other tool is email, very seldom (especially in larger organizations and in the early transition phases) will the platform become the universe and only portal for your knowledge workers’ activities.

As a result, you will have to deal with a multichannel world. For example, in an organization that is largely driven by email and an Intranet, the Intranet might be completely centralized or divided into divisional and geographic subsites. You might have some chat (maybe via Microsoft Communicator) and the key system that people open up in the morning could be Microsoft Outlook, which they use primarily for email. Now what happens when you launch an ESN as an addition to this landscape? First of all, it is unlikely that people will stop using email—that is, unless you forbid it, which is a rather harsh step. However, this might happen in some smaller organizations with ...

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