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Social Networking Drives Business Processes at Pandora and Rosetta Stone

By Kristin Burnham, CIO
March 26, 2013 06:11 PM ET

CIO - Two-thirds of businesses report they use social technologies for marketing and other purposes, but they don't integrate it into their business processes, according to AIIM's 2012 "Social in the Flow" report. Thirty-seven percent expect social media will be used regularly across their entire business over the next two years, and only 9 percent see it as being completely integrated.

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While a majority of businesses still struggle to adopt and integrate social processes, language learning company Rosetta Stone and Internet radio company Pandora have-successfully-embraced the social business trend and are reaping the benefits.

Over the last few years, Rosetta Stone has swapped out about 70 percent of its technology infrastructure, including its ecommerce systems and internal technology applications, for SaaS offerings. Pandora, too, has turned to the cloud-100 percent of its business operations are now SaaS-based.

Both companies use Salesforce.com services today and both report improvements in collaboration, communication and productivity, though it wasn't without challenges. Here's a look at how Pandora and Rosetta Stone navigated security concerns, corporate culture change and gaining executive buy-in to reap social business's rewards.

Addressing Social Security Concerns

"We're a 20-year-old company and we knew we needed to change," says Rosetta Stone CIO Pradeep Mannakkara, who joined the company in mid-2011.

Rosetta Stone was already a proponent of social media-it has more than 1.5 million Facebook fans from pages in nine different languages-but it had yet to adopt a strategy to better communicate with and connect its 1,700 employees worldwide.

"When you have a lot of these teams in offices all around the world relying on email, travel and phone, you don't get as much done," Mannakkara says. "Our workforce is somewhat younger, too, and they use social tools in their personal lives. They kind of expect it at work now," he says.

About a year ago, Mannakkara and his team piloted Chatter, Salesforce's collaboration tool, twice: first in a group of a couple hundred users, and then in his tech group of about 100 employees. And while the pilots were successful and Chatter has since been rolled out to all Rosetta Stone employees, he admits he was skeptical at first.

"What if someone posts something inappropriate? How do you manage that? What about confidentiality? I had a lot of questions and heard a lot of debates. But what it comes down to is this: Technology is evolving and you can't try to police and control everything," he says. "It got to a point where some of these conversations were silly. This is the sort of thing that stops progress."

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Security was also a consideration at Pandora, a Salesforce and Chatter customer "since day one," says Richard Rothschild, vice president of Information Services. Rothschild joined Pandora in November 2011 after the company adopted Salesforce. Pandora became a cloud-based company about three years ago, he says, and since joining, he's helped onboard many SaaS applications.

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