I attended Enterprise 2.0 in Santa Clara, CA this week. I predict that in 2011, “business as usual” will move to social business. As usual. Meaning, social tools will be enabled across the enterprise and they’ll quickly be ingrained as the “new way to do business”. Here are specific trends and observations from Enterprise 2.0.
Start-ups on Equal Footing with the Technology Giants
Social business, by way of its “newness”, evens the playing field. In fact, it actually provides an advantage to the start-ups, who built their business (from the ground up) on a foundation of social features.
The established giants, meanwhile (e.g. IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, etc.), need to retrofit existing offerings – adding social into (or on top of) what already exists. Or in some cases, the giants are developing new social platforms that live in parallel with their legacy systems.
Commenting on a T-shirt that poked fun at “jive talking”, Christopher Morace (@thinkoutloud) said it well when he tweeted, “How in a space with IBM, MSFT, & SFDC did Jive become ‘the man’? I’m still in my 30’s!”
Social Business UI – New Models Needed
During the event, I tweeted that if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Facebook should be quite flattered. In other words, everyone’s social business UI looks and feels like Facebook.
Conference attendee Robert Lavigne (@RLavigne42) agreed and tweeted back, “good from a cross training point of view, bad from a breaking that mindset in the sales cycle though. Need innovation not UX copy”. Robert continued, “Time for something innovative in terms of UX”.
If we do not see UI/UX innovation and differentiation, then the market will face commoditization, where everyone’s platform looks the same. And that’s not good for the market. Expect to see fresh, new looks in 2011, especially as some of these platforms evolve to version 2.0.
The Intranet (As We Know It) Is Dead
The Intranet, as a self-standing web site, is now dead. In its place will be social business platforms. Do you really use your company’s intranet? It’s good for routine activities (e.g. look up phone numbers, find the expense report template, etc.), but it doesn’t significantly improve employee productivity.
The typical intranet doesn’t get much activity and it’s hard to find what you need. Now consider the likes of the Socialtext, Yammer, Salesforce Chatter and others. Common features they provide are:
- Follow and be followed – people, documents, sales opportunities, etc. Need to track an important document? Follow it, and be alerted to all updates on it.
- Crowdsourced answers – need to find a nugget of information or an obscure document? Ask your followers via a status update and you’ll likely receive an answer within minutes.
- Polls – want to know how Marketing is doing with sales collateral? Create a poll and invite employees to participate. Publish the results via a status update.
- Collaboration via 140 characters – OK, most social platforms don’t impose Twitter-like character limits, but you get the idea: status updates are the new water cooler conversation.
- Mobile – access to social business is enabled on your smartphone, via apps provided by the social platforms. How often did you access your intranet from mobile?
What This Means for Virtual Event Platforms
In my 2011 predictions for virtual events, I wrote about “Market Expansion”. Guess what? Social business platforms do, in fact, look a lot like virtual event platforms. Some striking similarities:
- A move from point features to a “platform”
- Private and group chat
Some social platforms provide capabilities not found in virtual event platforms today, such as wikis and real-time collaborative document editing.
Virtual event platforms will continue to have the upper hand in supporting live/scheduled (online) events, but will face expanded competition in the area of “virtual communities”.
(A tag cloud generated from the session descriptions at Enterprise 2.0 – using wordle.net)
It’s an interesting time. 2011 could be a year of battles, shifts and migrations. With the move to social business, along with the larger shift to cloud computing, expect 2011 to be The Year of the Shakeout.