Enterprise social: On-premise or cloud?

"I think we have grown so quickly that sometimes our technology hasn't been able to keep up with our growth," says Sarah Brice-Chalker, CRM manager. "It was very difficult to share information and everything was done manually on spreadsheets that people were reluctant to share."

In September 2012 she started developing a CRM system and went for the Podio cloud option.

"Some (solutions) were extremely expensive and you would need a lot of training on them and that was an issue for us," Brice-Chalker says. "We needed something that was easy to get to know and you could teach yourself, so that is why we went with Podio."

She believes that the Facebook-like interface of Podio eased acceptance, and it is now used by 50 people.

"If you have a company that is used to sharing data, for them to go directly from just email being passed round and their own spreadsheets to a full (enterprise social network) system that is quite a scary move. This is not as intimidating. It feels familiar as everyone is on Facebook."

Podio is based on apps that employees can download from the internet for a variety of standard and customised business tasks and which allow people to export and import data.

"Workspaces are set up so that everyone who is invited to that workspace can view all the information. I might have a person outside the workspace who I would want to see some of the information, so I would export an Excel spreadsheet, which might be all the invoices I have in an app, to my colleague," Brice-Chalker says.

"Not only is it great for doing what we are doing on it now but we are also creating a structure for the company that we can then replicate next time we have a project. We already have the structure set up of what we want to include in it and what apps you might use."

The overall picture is that cloud based enterprise social collaboration works well for many enterprises. It's where there are concerns about data location and compliance requirements – for example in the finance or health sectors, for example, on-premise solutions can provide the remote connectivity and sharing benefits of a cloud solution.

This is just one piece of the jigsaw; we will look at managing all the data generated and selecting a solution with features supporting your business processes are considerations in parts 2 and 3.