Thursday, December 27, 2012

Social is Dead, Long Live Social

Most enthusiasts have long recognized that the adoption of social business is about much more than just "Facebook for the Enterprise". It is about doing work differently, such as small teams collaborating to create content, not just individuals sharing content after the fact. Nonetheless, the similarities in the social technologies between social media sites, such as Facebook and Google+ and social business platforms such as Jive are striking and many. They provide many of the same social tools, including; connections and lists, status updates and activity streams, groups and discussions, photo and video sharing, messaging, and events.

When social media first came to enterprises as social business it was no surprise that it arrived in a familiar form, as a standalone platform. As is often the case with disruptive innovations, the market incumbents are generally not the innovators. SAP for example, long a market leader in enterprise applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM), have only recently announced SAP® Jam, their SuccessFactors based enterprise social software offering.

Despite their late arrival in the market, I believe that if SAP delivers on the promise of integrating social capabilities into their enterprise applications then they may find that their timing is well placed to capitalize upon continued social business adoption. While the early adopters, such as marketers, may have been willing to take a chance on the then emerging social technologies, the late adopters, such as supply chain managers, will expect a more proven and mature solution before they make the leap.

Dion Hinchcliffe provides an interesting take on social business adoption in his posting The leading indicators of social business maturity in 2012

As both the market and the technologies continue to evolve I believe that we will look back on the end of 2012 as the point when industry recognized that social business is now the new way of doing business. Businesses have always been, and will always be, inherently social. Social technologies may enable businesses to do work differently, but they are not an end in themselves. Instead, social technologies must be tightly integrated with the enterprise applications that enable businesses to serve their customers and manage their products, supply chains and resources.

I have come to appreciate more and more as time goes by that context is meaning. The challenge of a standalone social business platform is that it exists external to the flow of work and thus the business context. For a discussion or document in a standalone platform to have meaning the context must be re-established. In contrast, if the social technologies are integrated directly into the enterprise application then the context of discussion of a customer's problem or a manufacturing challenge is seamlessly maintained.

Over time I think that the integrated approach will prevail. What do you think?