Easy to Use Means Increased Usage
For all the talk about the use of social tools for internal collaboration, few companies can truly say that they've opened up the intellectual capital of their folks to everyone else within the organization. Have you ever experienced this? You need to get a meeting with someone, but he's busy, very busy, three weeks and still no appointment busy. But he has no problem finding time to update his Facebook status every 15 minutes ... everyday? I'd argue that the reason is that most of the tools companies are currently using are too time-intensive or too complex or too inconvenient. There's a reason why employee participation on intranets is lower than that of Facebook. Convenience for both sides of the value equation is the key, and tools like Formspring are nothing if not easy to use.
The Need is Growing
Ultimately, Formspring may not be the tool for use inside the enterprise, it's far too early to tell. And there are a number of other related, but slightly different tools including Yammer and SocialCast, essentially behind the firewall, enterprise versions of Facebook. But I believe this is a near certainty: in our increasingly 140-character world, a quick-and-dirty way to collaborate and search for insights within the enterprise will not only be something employees eventually demand, it'll be something they'll actually use. And it'll help your company build a smarter, more effective, more engaged workforce.
Grant Toups is a senior associate with PulsePoint Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.