Social Media Software for the Extended Enterprise

January 6, 2012

Enterprise Social Media could be loosely be defined as a system of web-based technologies that focus on collaboration, information sharing, and integration within the enterprise environment. In contrast to traditional enterprise software, which imposes structure prior to use, enterprise social software tends to encourage use before providing structure.

Latest bunch of Social Media Enterprise Software focuses mainly on integration, agility, and speed by implementing user-friendly technology that is compatible across all kinds of devices with an emphasis on the mobile platform. Enterprises are now able to collaborate, share, and organize information across all levels using Social Media Enterprise Software, and this trend that can only grow even stronger during the coming years, as confirmed by a recent study from Forrester Research that concludes that Social Media Enterprise Software, which mimics the kind of  functionality present on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, will be increasingly adapted for workplaces. According to the study organizations will increase their spending on Social Media Enterprise Software at a compound annual growth rate of 61 percent through 2016, a year in which the market for these products will reach US$6.4 billion, compared with $600 million. Forrester’s report entitled “Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration” also predicts that by creating a social layer between information workers and the applications and communications infrastructure, social enterprise apps will finally overcome the adoption issues that have prevented the effective implementation of unified communications and collaboration in the workplace.

There are many flavors of Social Software for Enterprises, and competition for a share of this very lucrative market is becoming fiercer by the day. Among the big contenders are names like Oracle Social CRM, Cisco Quad, IBM Lotus Connections, Microsoft SharePoint, BroadVision Clearvale, Neudesic Pulse, Yammer, Jive SBS, Ideaplane Kinetic, or MindShare. However different they may appear to be, at their core all their software share some common functionality like search facilities, categorized content, authoring modules, comments systems and syndication channels. All these modules can bring added value to business because by focusing on users needs and ergonomics they will bring about tremendous time savings. Often overlooked features such as comprehensible navigation more suited to the user, RSS feeds to keep employees informed of events, blogs and wikis for company documentation and others improve the collaborative operation as a whole and remove some traditional boundaries of hierarchy and organization, leading to increased interaction with customers and simplified integration with partners.

Corporate blogs for example take advantage of blogging technologies to broadcast leadership messages and publish daily activities. Corporate blogs are becoming a part of the standard set of corporate communication tools and the emerging portfolio of social-media tools. Features like tags and rating help corporate employees find content and make judgements about policies or procedures. And corporate wikis provide an easy-to-use environment for subject-matter experts to publish their interpretation on any subject. By creating a wiki individual divisions are now able to add items to the system and make a decision on which items should roll up to the corporate level.

Additionally, expertise-location capability provides corporations with the ability to solve business problems that are difficult to articulate or communicate explicitly and that involve highly skilled professionals. Dynamic people-profiles and searches are increasingly seen as integral components of a support environment that encourages unplanned collaboration and informal interactions as effective ways to solve business problems. Expertise location increases productivity and organizational success by identifying the status and location of human expertise in globally dispersed and increasingly virtual organizations. Publishing of employee profiles and searches against those profiles are increasingly seen by strategists as integral components of a business process that encourages unplanned collaboration and informal interactions as effective ways to solve business problems. Social network tools help managers find the right person or group for the appropriate task.

Last but not least, by implementing Social Media Software companies make it so much easier to collect and incubate innovative ideas that can be nurtured with community participation. Every company has people whose talents fall outside their jobs descriptions and therefore remain hidden most of the time. These employees can now make very important contributions to the idea generation process that will help fuel the product pipeline.