news South Australia’s Department of Premier and Cabinet has started examining new enterprise social networking solutions, just two years after implementing a solution which it has branded as delivering it significant benefits.
Like most premier’s departments in Australian State Government, the Department or Premier and Cabinet is responsible for supporting the operations of the state’s office of the premier and cabinet. However, it also has wider responsibilities relating to issues as diverse as Aboriginal wellbeing, economic and international coordination, the arts and cultural development, industrial relations and so on, serving not only the South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, but also other ministers.
In a request for information document issued through the state’s tendering site this month, the department said it had implemented an “enterprise social media network” in mid-2010. It had achieved benefits through the project such as improved open lines of communication, demonstrated sharing of corporate knowledge beyond traditional boundaries, substantially improved document version control and significant improvements in the speed of disseminating information.
However, despite having received these improvements, the department noted in its tender document that it wanted to undertake “a market review” of offerings in the enterprise social network space.
Among the features that the department said it was looking for was the ability to establish “communities” that were project-based, interest-based or for general corporate use, the ability to share information in a defined way and be notified when information changes, the ability to upload documents, the ability to provide statistics on usage, and even the ability to support access to the system from either desktop PCs or mobile platforms.
The department did not specifically mention in its tender documentation that it wanted to replace its existing social networking solution. However, it is believed that much of the functionality provided by the platform it is seeking would replicate to some degree existing functionality in any social networking solution it could have previously implemented.
It is also not clear what platform the department currently uses. One enterprise social networking tool known to be used within the South Australian Government is Socialtext.
The news comes as interest in enterprise social networking platforms continues to grow in Australia. This week, for example, the New South Wales Police Force flagged plans to deploy a sizable internal social networking platform, as it moves ahead with plans to better serve the information needs of its 17,000 police officers and 4,000 civilian administration staff.
In a request for tender document issued this week, the organisation wrote that previously, internal communication had been conducted via “traditional means” — a monthly internal magazine distributed to all police stations, an intranet, which remains a “valuable source of reference material” but has “the normal limitations”, and email, including a whole of organisation system named “Nemesis”. However, the organisation wrote, it recognised the value of next-generation platforms.
“The working group recognises the potential value and benefits of using an internal social network to complement the current internal communication platforms,” NSW Police wrote. “While not all police officers are users of social media in their work or private lives, there is a growing recognition within the organisation that social networking platforms provide police with a very powerful communication tool.”
I’m not 100% clear on whether South Australia’s Department of Premier and Cabinet wants to replace its existing social networking solution, or just complement it. However, it seems clear that at least that the department’s understanding of the dynamics of enterprise social network is growing rapidly, and that it wants to maximise the amount of benefit it gets from such platforms. This can only be a good thing — especially in the public sector, where the flow of information can often be stultified due to entrenched bureaucracy.