Enterprise 2.0 Preview: Collaboration's Next 'Wave'

At Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara, November 8-11, Calif., organizations offering insight into their social collaboration initiatives include Citibank, Wells Fargo, and the U.S. Department of State.
Forrester sees a future in such systems. In its recent report, "The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch: 2011 To 2013," it describes technology that sounds a lot like Pulse. "Collaboration platforms will shift from document-centric to people-centric," the report states. "People-centric collaboration platforms will take advantage of Web 2.0 capabilities such as profiling, tagging, and communities and will shift the emphasis from document collaboration to facilitating the interactions of people in the organization."

James Sims, CIO of Save Mart, a grocery store chain based in Modesto, Calif., describes himself as being passionate about collaboration platforms and says his company has been testing Pulse for the past few weeks.

"Once people start to learn to collaborate a little more, things happen so much faster and you can leverage the collective genius of six people [instead of a single person working on a document until it's complete]," he said in a phone interview. "It takes people while before they realize that they don't have to be done [with a project] before they start sharing information."

At the same time, Sims cautions that some structure and refinement is necessary. "Pulse is very free-flowing and dynamic and real-time," he said. "I'm finding that information pandemonium can occur unless you lay down some ground rules."

The challenge, he says, is having everyone see the information they should see, recalling how he recently asked someone who mentioned something to him verbally to communicate through Pulse so everyone would get the message.

Sims insists there's something to be said both for the traditional document-style paradigm and the people-oriented, collaborative model. Because the social model tends to reinforce the importance of what's actively being discussed, there's a chance that important information that's not widely commented on may be overlooked at some later point in time.

Pulse, he says, is a very interesting and exciting platform. But it's not plug-in-and-transform. "It's going to take us all a while to wrap our heads around how to make it impose a little bit of structure while still being very active and dynamic," he said.

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