Dubai: Enterprise social media can enable organisations to engage employees more effectively and “create a culture of collaboration,” the Chief Innovation Officer of Noor Islamic Bank said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a panel in the ArabNet summit, Fraz Chishti emphasised the importance of breaking organisational barriers that hinder employees from expressing opinions for fear of repercussions. “People generally are not prone to stick their neck out and speak their minds,” Chishti said. “We need to break that.”

Exploiting enterprise social media, or the internal use of social media in a company, is one way through which these barriers can be dissolved. Panelists in the session discussed the implementation and adoption of Yammer, an enterprise social media site, within their organisations.

Fida Slayman, Communications Manager at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), noted some of the benefits enterprise social media brought to her organisation. “There wasn’t much room for people to come back with their own opinions, suggestions, and ideas,” she said, adding this had changed now. “People are really coming onboard and providing their ideas.”

Launched in 2008, Yammer was acquired by Microsoft in 2012. The website is for private use by companies, and it now lists over 4 million users.

Not surprisingly, enterprise social media may be more readily adopted by younger employees in a company, while older employees might need more convincing.

“The biggest challenge would be that you have to deal with the baby boomer generation,” Chishti said, adding that rather than using Yammer as a substitute for communication, companies should “use the enterprise social media platform as a complementary tool to the existing diversity of communication.”

“You can’t force people to be social,” Slayman acknowledged. “We are trying to integrate Yammer into our existing communication channels, not to present it as something extra they have to be doing.”

The writer is an intern with Gulf News.