With its acquisition announced last week of enterprise social networking vendor CubeTree, Successfactors provides a new answer to the question I posed here a couple of months back: Can Enterprise 2.0 Apps Stand Alone?. At the time, I wrote there was an “unresolved question whether collaboration gets subsumed into content management or process management.” Successfactors has shown that there’s another option, which is to fuse collaboration with goal management (its own term is ‘business execution’). Its application provides an overview of content and process, embedded in the context of how both of them measure up to desired business outcomes. It’s still a given that Enterprise 2.0 apps won’t end up standing alone. But putting them together with goal management tools could give them a more pivotal role than if they just get sucked into generic collaboration or business software suites.
As the company’s CMO Paul Albright puts it, “We’re presenting everyone in the company with the data they need to get their job done.” (Its earlier acquisition of Inform brought useful extra data analysis capabilities). Since projects are usually tackled by people working in teams rather than individuals operating in isolation, that data needs to be presented in a team context. One customer calls it “dynamic team execution,” he told me last week. He quoted another as saying, “We want our employees to collaborate to go solve big problems.”