This is happening from the side of the application vendors, like Salesforce.com and SAP, which both have ESN components in their stacks, and from the side of the ESN vendors like IBM, Microsoft and Jive Software, he said.
"I'm encouraged. We're at a good stage," he said in an interview.
Threading its ESN tool into its overall workflow is something 3M is currently engaged in. At the giant multinational, which has about 84,000 employees and more than $30 billion in annual revenue, the IT department is working to tie a variety of collaboration tools with the activity stream of its IBM Connections ESN system.
Departments and units across the company use products like Microsoft's SharePoint, custom applications, Yammer, Salesforce.com's Chatter, SAP's Jam and VMware's SocialCast.
However, they aren't integrated companywide, so often employees resort to the Notes email system, which isn't designed for collaboration in the way these other tools are.
"Instead of trying to stop that proliferation of collaboration tools, what we want to do is gather the information and funnel it into a unified repository," Jeffrey R. Berg, IT eBusiness manager of architecture and development at 3M, said during a presentation.
The plan is to hook up these tools with IBM Connections, so that its activity stream becomes a common container for event notifications generated by the other applications, Berg said.
The goal? To get the right information at the right time to the right person and let the recipient act on it. 3M is clear that it won't ever achieve a perfect solution, but it trusts that its effort will make the process much better than it is today, he said.
Meanwhile, at Taco Bell the IT department is engaged in a project to revitalize the company's intranet for its restaurant employees by making it easier to use and more effective.
First rolled out about five years ago, the intranet had two portals -- one for restaurant personnel and another one for franchisees, and they weren't integrated, leading to much duplication of efforts and lack of content consistency.
In addition, the system was architected in such a way that the IT department had to be involved in the posting and changing of content, due to technical complexities. As a result, it could take three days to publish something new.
"It was very difficult to maintain, and it was very cumbersome to roll out content," said Christian Klein, a Taco Bell senior manager, in a presentation.
Coupled with limited personalization capabilities, engagement with the intranet was very low -- most restaurant employees limited themselves to glancing at whatever was new on the home page.