Enterprise 2.0 take-away: It's about collaboration in context - InformationWeek

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Irwin Lazar
Irwin Lazar
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Enterprise 2.0 take-away: It's about collaboration in context

Another Enterprise 2.0 is in the books! This year's show featured a lot more diversity in terms of content and focus, moving beyond a social networking and into areas such as video, organizational strategies, and policy/governance. But perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the show was the evolution of collaboration beyond stand-alone platforms and into the very fabric of the organization.

For the last few years the social product landscape has been centered on delivering applications that provided specific uses or functionalities. For example; blogs, wikis, microblogs, discussion forums, etc. Over time stand-alone applications have merged into social computing suites such as Newsgator social sites, Jive SBS, and Socialtext.

Now, we're seeing the next wave: Social computing in the context of organizational applications and processes. The first shot across the bow was Salesforce.com's Chatter, introduced a few months ago as a social application that is baked into Salesforce's CRM; meaning employees could leverage social collaboration tools directly from within the application they were already using. We've seen other examples such as integration of public social network connectors into Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange. Recently Jive demonstrated integration of SBS with SAP at this year's SAPPHIRE NOW event in Orlando.

Vendors at Enterprise 2.0 took this concept one step further with announcements from Cisco, Jive, and Socialtext not only enhanced collaboration/social platforms (Quad, SBS 4.5, and Socialtext 4.0 respectively), but new APIs and developer support to interface these social tools with business process applications. Initially this means a greater ability to collaborate in the context of specific reports, management information, or ERP applications.

Longer term, I expect we'll see collaboration flow the opposite way; so as with Salesforce chatter, social tools will be available within business application interfaces as well as within stand-alone social suites. This presents some challenges for those responsible for social strategy. It's possible that rather than deploying an enterprise-wide social platform, the challenge becomes to integrate various islands of social applications that are wrapped into business process tools to enable common search, profile management, and administration. Perhaps we'll see OpenSocial become the de-facto tool for interconnecting these islands.

Another aspect of this trend is a requirement for greater communication between collaboration planners and application developers. One of the key trends we've highlighted in our recent research is growing integration of those responsible for voice, messaging, and video with those responsible for social software, now that group will need to include internal application development resources who can leverage these new integration capabilities.

What we're seeing is a maturation of the social computing landscape. It's no longer about "which cool new tool can I deploy" but how can I leverage these tools to improve the overall ability of those within and outside my organization to communicate and collaborate.

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