The So­cial En­ter­prise Is Here

Zeid Nasser Sees So­cial Net­works In­evitable in Mod­ern En­ter­prises

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Content -

So­cial net­works are in­evitable in mod­ern en­ter­prises. Here’s why

To­day, we are wit­ness­ing the ma­tur­ing field of so­cial-style in­ter­ac­tion in­cor­po­rated into en­ter­prise soft­ware to cre­ate what is be­ing con­sid­ered a ‘So­cial Busi­ness’, or ‘En­ter­prise 2.0’.

Ba­si­cally, it is an ad­di­tional layer of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and shar­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties that is added to al­ready ex­ist­ing on­line soft­ware which en­ables em­ploy­ees, cus­tomers and sup­pli­ers to col­lab­o­rate and or­ga­nize in­for­ma­tion, us­ing web and mo­bile plat­forms.

Soft­ware as a Ser­vice (Saas) has been a preva­lent model in mod­ern or­ga­ni­za­tions for a few years now. Ev­ery ma­jor soft­ware ven­dor now en­ables com­pany staff to work from any­where by in­cor­po­rat­ing core busi­ness func­tions of the or­ga­ni­za­tion into an in­ter­face ac­ces­si­ble from any de­vice.

What was miss­ing, though, was the adop­tion of some of the best ideas and func­tions avail­able through so­cial me­dia from the con­sumer side. Chat­ting and mes­sag­ing, post­ing on fo­rums or user groups and col­lab­o­rat­ing on shared con­tent are all clear ex­am­ples of what can be adopted by the or­ga­ni­za­tion to cap­i­tal­ize on the chang­ing na­ture of the typ­i­cal em­ployee.

Peo­ple want the same com­mu­ni­ca­tion ex­pe­ri­ence they en­joy in their per­sonal lives to be avail­able in their pro­fes­sional life; to share data with co-work­ers, and seam­lessly com­mu­ni­cate through mes­sag­ing in­stead of just us­ing email. If this in­creases their pro­duc­tiv­ity and hap­pi­ness, com­pa­nies should re­al­ize its im­pact on the bot­tom line.

With the en­trance of mil­len­ni­als into the work place, it has be­come im­per­a­tive to adopt such com­mu­ni­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion abil­i­ties to re­tain younger em­ploy­ees. That’s why the big­gest play­ers in en­ter­prise soft­ware are get­ting in on the act.

In 2012, Mi­crosoft ac­quired Yam­mer, a pri­vate so­cial net­work, which puts peo­ple, con­ver­sa­tions, con­tent, and busi­ness data on one plat­form. At the time, more than 200,000 com­pa­nies world­wide were al­ready us­ing Yam­mer to col­lab­o­rate with em­ploy­ees. It was an ex­am­ple of busi­nesses seek­ing out a so­lu­tion, even from a small ven­dor, if the big­ger soft­ware com­pa­nies weren’t pro­vid­ing it.

So, Mi­crosoft jumped at this op­por­tu­nity demon­strat­ing that so­cial me­dia in the en­ter­prise is much more than a fad. Yam­mer is now part of Mi­crosoft’s Of­fice di­vi­sion, and is ma­jor part of its Of­fice 365 strat­egy, within the Sharepoint On­line ser­vice.

Or­a­cle, an­other ma­jor player in en­ter­prise soft­ware, has re­cently pur­chased In­volver, to cre­ate what it calls ‘a cloud-based so­cial plat­form across mar­ket­ing, sales and ser­vice touch-points’. Or­a­cle is now pre­sent­ing an ex­panded so­cial plat­form us­ing In­volver’s SML (So­cial Markup Lan­guage). The re­sult will be a more com­pre­hen­sive, and con­sumer­ized, ex­pe­ri­ence.

The en­ter­prise soft­ware spe­cial­ist SAP has also launched “Jam” which is a se­cure, so­cial col­lab­o­ra­tion so­lu­tion that extends across SAP’S en­tire tech­nol­ogy land­scape to give so­cial ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

IBM al­ready has a So­cial Busi­ness di­vi­sion, and its aims in this field are well ar­tic­u­lated. IBM says it wants to “connect em­ploy­ees and cus­tomers to share their best ideas and new pro­cesses’.

It would ap­pear that the cus­tomer is now in­creas­ingly in con­trol. En­ter­prises will also reap the benefits of en­hanced feed­back for the pur­poses of prod­uct and ser­vice devel­op­ment.

This is an ‘open’ age of in­for­ma­tion. So, en­ter­prises are go­ing to have to open up too. There are, of course, soft­ware se­cu­rity chal­lenges in­volved. But that’s part of this evo­lu­tion, whereby the benefits truly out­weigh the po­ten­tial con­cerns, which can be tack­led.

Em­pow­er­ing em­ploy­ees and com­mu­ni­cat­ing bet­ter with con­sumers must be ev­ery com­pany’s goal. Pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences cre­ate sat­is­fied cus­tomers, and more rev­enues. That’s the op­ti­mal goal that cor­po­rate IT de­part­ments aim to achieve.

Zeid Nasser is a tech and me­dia writer and com­men­ta­tor since the 1990s. He is also the founder of var­i­ous lo­cal and re­gional me­dia projects.

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