Business is a collaborative sport. Always has been, always will be. Growth in business, whether from new customers, new products, new efficiencies or by acquisition requires collaboration. Business school case studies are founded on examples of successful or unsuccessful collaborations. The challenge is encouraging, coordinating and enabling collaboration is incredibly hard. Through the years technology breakthroughs have driven new levels of business collaboration and the rare profound breakthrough has created a market transition that truly changed the way people and organizations work. We are in the midst of one of these market transitions now. We call it “The Social Enterprise”.
Social media is following the same adoption curve that the Internet did. The Internet gained commercial traction as a consumer platform. As it reached a critical mass in the consumer market, enterprises started to evaluate use of the Internet as a business platform. A series of enterprise adoption phases followed. The Internet was hailed as a revolution and a fad. The Internet was a polarizing platform fueling debate in business, academia, the general media and around the family dinner table. In business ROI metrics were questioned and the platform was deemed both a revolutionary innovation and a massive threat to productivity. Several stages of adoption played out including the “dressing Grandma up in a mini-skirt” phase. You remember that one don’t you? That’s when most every company self consciously put dotcom in their name in an attempt to position the business for the dotcom gold rush. The stock market reminded us that the Internet, like all significant market transitions, could be both over-hyped and under-hyped. By 2003, these awkward adoption phases were over. The Internet had simply become the computational platform for all businesses and enterprise adoption was no longer a debate.
The Social Enterprise: We see the same dynamics playing out with the adoption of social platforms, tools and applications in the enterprise market today. The consumer adoption of social media platforms and services like My Space, Facebook and Twitter reached critical mass. The launch of business social platforms and applications ignited the rapid series of enterprise adoption phases we are seeing today. The market adoption of The Social Enterprise however will happen faster and have a more profound impact on the way we work than the Internet did.
The Human Operating System: Simply put The Social Enterprise is a more natural way to work. Daniel Pink in his new book “Drive” writes about the innate need to solve problems and to collaborate with other human beings to do so. Social platforms enable people to work in ways that are more in line with the way they naturally interact and work. The self-publishing, crowd-sourcing, communications centric approach that The Social Enterprise provides, serves as a foundation for the ultimate collaborative platform, the human operating system. The power base in business today comes not from what you know, but rather from what you share. The Social Enterprise brings together the collective intelligence of the organization. It also creates a connected expert marketplace across businesses regardless of geography, time zone, or organizational structure, driving peer to peer exchanges based on knowledge and value.
Implications for Technology, Media and Marketing: The Social Enterprise will have a significant and lasting impact on technology, media and marketing. We are already seeing new social platform companies like Jive Software and SocialText gain adoption in the enterprise market. We are also seeing major enterprise software companies like Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and Salesforce.com add social features and functionality. The Social Enterprise will reshape the technology landscape and become the center of gravity for the way companies think about and position the products and services they produce. The Social Enterprise is also having a profound impact on how media is produced and how audiences interact with media. Social applications and tools have become new distribution networks as people become far more interested in trusted brands and what people in their social networks are reading, doing and thinking, than they are in “searching” the web. We will also see new opportunities for marketers as new platforms, tools and applications allow for conversational and contextual marketing to take place across media platforms and environments.
At UBM TechWeb we are helping people and organizations harness the power of The Social Enterprise. Our Enterprise 2.0 Conference is the leading destination for enterprise buyers looking for collaborative technology solutions. We also produce ongoing research on the enterprise adoption of social applications and tools and share this research with technology marketers via our Create Your Next Customer site. In the spirit of sharing what you know, please feel free to add your thoughts and experiences on The Social Enterprise.