Before I go further – a huge thanks to all those who helped me with this project. It was very interesting to me, and most of the comments and emails I got said very much the same. Too many to mention, but you know who you are – thanks.
I will post my summary / commentary / rebuttal / whatever-you-want-to-call-it next Tuesday (have a special guest post on Monday, related to this same topic).
Jive’s Answers below…
1) Where is the Social world going to be in 12 months? 24 months?
We need to consider three perspectives in this answer: what is happening in the consumer space; the maturity of the social business space and its adoption by the market; and lessons learned from enterprises running social businesses.
In the consumer space Facebook continues to set the agenda:
- Created an app framework for 3rd party innovation
- Positioned themselves as the identity server of the internet
- Activity Filtering
- Evolved the Social Graph
- Addressing Unified Communication
Basically we are seeing the creation of a platform in our personal lives that allows us to have all of the functionality and tools we need to stay easily aware & connected to anyone we care about. At the heart of this strategy has been the social graph, and Facebook’s leadership in terms of showing how this information can make for a personalized experience.
The maturity of the social business continues its advance. If you look beyond point solutions like wikis and blogs then things really kicked off in 2007. Visionary companies recognized the power that social technologies can bring to business and adopted it to engage with their employees and customers. Now success stories are emerging with proven value. More pragmatic companies are starting to evaluate what it can do for them, but they are speaking the language of business needs and objectives rather than talking technology. This is putting pressure on the technology providers to address critical requirements around integration with existing business systems and thorny issues of compliance Social Business is finding its way out of the chasm; standard early adoption stages in a new market.
What are we learning from the companies who have been using Social Business software for years?
- Performance and user experience will always be the most important aspect of the software
- If you don’t address the noise, then all of the functionality in the world won’t matter
- Social Business software must play nicely with other systems. No one needs another silo.
- In order to solve the most valuable use cases employees need to be able to connect & engage with customers in the forum and at the time they desire
- Businesses engaging with partners and other businesses is not a well solved problem yet with the solutions that currently exist
- Mobile and tablets are becoming the preferred mode of accessing these solutions
Social Business platforms will need to address some of the fundamentals that Facebook has done in the consumer space such as how to tackle a 3rd party ecosystem, deal with the noise, handle the collision course with other forms of communication, and leverage the power of the enterprise social graph to personalize experience & content; Facebook was not built for business.
In the enterprise it is about getting real work done, providing real value, and doing it in a way that leverages existing investments all in an environment that is highly regulated. As it continues to be better understood how these new technologies provide a new way to work you’ll eventually see “social” drop from the label entirely—but I think that is more than 2 years out!
2) How can businesses not be left behind?
I would say first and foremost any business needs to have three things before they leave 2010:
- Clarity on their business strategy and how they win at whatever they do
- Someone on the payroll who understands the opportunities that social business technology makes possible and can map that to the business strategy
- A plan to get started in the area that will have the most impact on your business.
You don’t need to do everything at once. You certainly shouldn’t do something just because everyone else is doing it. This isn’t about having a social media strategy on Facebook or Twitter. But, you need to get started somewhere and you need to get started now so that you can benefit from the organizational learning that will ultimately transform your business.
3) What is going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of social?
Social business will lose the “social” part of the label. I think Social Business platforms will emerge to be a new kind of interface for awareness, communication, and action within the enterprise. If you think about it most of the communication tools we use today were created over a decade ago in a time that didn’t contemplate the levels of information the average enterprise worker needs to be aware of in order to make good decisions, or the amount of communication required just to keep up. The world is moving faster and we are all desperate for tools to help us do our jobs more effectively.
The fact that social technology is involved in every aspect of business from sales to marketing to engineering to customer service is going to appear retroactively obvious.