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Social Software Emphasis Shifts To Getting Work Done

Gartner's Larry Cannell previews the social workplace trends he will be speaking about at this year's Enterprise 2.0 Boston.

Some of the technical standards that could prove helpful are embodied in the OpenSocial 2.0 specification, which is starting to show up in products such as the latest cloud release of the Jive platform, Cannell said.

Cannell also is tracking the increasing attention to social software geared toward organizing or tracking work, rather than general collaboration. One recent example is Asana, which is getting attention because its founders come from Facebook. This trend also is reflected in products such as Wrike's social project management, Sparqlight's social workflow, and the activity feed integration with many applications in SAP Streamwork.

"I've looked at Asana, and I like the vision they've painted," Cannell said. "It shows the pendulum swinging back from social functions to more activity-focused functions."

Larry Cannell

Coordinating tasks, or tracking open issues related to a project, is one of the most fundamental forms of collaboration and is the focus of many Web applications and portal platforms. Despite the ferment of concepts for integrating social software concepts into those processes, there is so far no consensus of what that should look like--not the way there is with the general social software environments that are all loosely modeled on Facebook, Cannell said.

"This has long been an issue, where you'd train someone to use eRoom and then if you moved over to using SharePoint, you'd have to move them over to using SharePoint," Cannell said. Many organizations stick to a list of tasks or issues in an Excel file on a shared network drive as a lowest common denominator means of communication, he said. So although social collaboration around work and tasks is "theoretically powerful," it still awaits a breakthrough, he said. Perhaps that will come if a vendor like Jive delivers a concept for social project collaboration that becomes wildly popular, or if a consumer social site develops some analog that enterprise products can imitate, he said.

For now, at the level of rhetoric at least, the enterprise social networking vendors increasingly emphasize the idea that their products help get work done, going beyond idle social conversation. "I think they're going to have to move in that direction," Cannell said.

Support for structured collaboration, such as managing lists of tasks, explains why Lotus Notes retains a foothold in many organizations and why organizations that implement Jive or Yammer are so interested in having it integrated with SharePoint, which also offers those capabilities.

"I think we're going to continue to struggle to cover the spectrum of needs for some time," Cannell said.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference brings together industry thought leaders to explore the latest innovations in enterprise social software, analytics, and big data tools and technologies. Learn how your business can harness these tools to improve internal business processes and create operational efficiencies. It happens in Boston, June 18-21. Register today!

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User Rank: Apprentice
6/15/2012 | 7:18:44 PM
re: Social Software Emphasis Shifts To Getting Work Done
Finally, we are seeing thought leadership concentrate on platforms plus the specific processes necessary to bring the myriad means of communication together. Merging the silos and integrating specific information by client, indeed by individuals, offers the chance to then match a firm's client-facing acts and client responses to strategy and overall profitability.

Linda Sharp is correct. In the near future, firms may well manage their business strategies using a stakeholder community, and manage individual client relationships using real-time relationship intelligence that directly ties to individual client profitability.

The technology is either at hand or nearby. We now require some major changes in IT supplier's and executive management's thinking. People must act and find ways to harness the technology to client relationship development and retention, client value measurement, and most importantly to profitability.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/15/2012 | 2:00:46 AM
re: Social Software Emphasis Shifts To Getting Work Done
Thank you, David and Larry, for putting Social Business in perspective and pushing for the needed breakthroughs. Social Business does matter.

My prediction is that major Enterprises will run their companies from a Stakeholder Community in the next three to five years. I realized this three years ago when John Summers of NetApp showed me the external Community they were running on Jive. (My, how long everything takes!!!)

What was missing was a way to measure the Community and tie the Activity Streams to business resultsGă÷to profit and other positive outcomes. I realized Communities needed something to DO! A purpose. A business purpose. (As Justin pointed out below as well.)

Then the Interactions it would take to accomplish an outcome could be measured, I thought, with the same business process approach my team and I had been working on to measure and manage Customer Acquisition and Customer Retention. CRI (Customer Relationship Intelligence). The Community would be just as reliant on relationship development tied to outcomes as Sales and Marketing and Customer Service are. We put some effort into it and invented Social CRIGă÷a Community Relationship Intelligence component of CRI. Social CRI rolls up into CRI and the Enterprise. Both use the same framework, process, and metrics. That is how Enterprises will be able to run their business through their Stakeholder Communities and leverage these relationships

WeGăÍre getting the word out about CRI. Last July we posted a HACK on the McKinsey-HBR Management Innovation Challenge. It has consistently been ranked in the top 2-3% of innovative ideas from around the world ever since. Just over a month ago we posted two more HACKs to complete the trilogy. The last two have been #2 and #3 out of 850+ pretty much since they were posted. WeGăÍre on to something here, IGăÍd say. HereGăÍs a link to one of them: http://www.managementexchange..... If you click on my name when you get there, it will take you to a page that has links to the other two. See what you think. Social CRI -- > CRI may be the innovation needed to deliver on the promise of Social Business.

Thanks again, David and Larry, for stimulating the conversation, Linda

P.S. Good response, Justin.
Justin Yuen
Justin Yuen,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/13/2012 | 10:23:40 PM
re: Social Software Emphasis Shifts To Getting Work Done
Great article, David - Larry is right on. From our experience over the last eight years working in social enterprise collaboration, time and time again we've seen user adoption being driven by setting up sites that help teams get work done. Ultimately, focusing on specific teams with deliverables who are the most ready for online collaboration tools will drive incredible user adoption results because the use case and business case are very clear to them. For us, a combination of project management, contact tracking/CRM, and knowledge base building with a social layer wrapped around everything is what has resulted in our success and growth at FMYI [for my innovation] (
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