So, your organization needs to get social. We all get the benefits. More interactions among more knowledge workers with more frictionless access to more content equals a perfect environment for something new and great to happen. "Peanut butter, have you met chocolate? Oh, you work in separate parts of the organization and haven't had the pleasure yet? Well, you two are a match made in heaven. And, the vast majority of the organization agrees."
Flip comments aside, companies are considering making big bets on enterprise social technologies. For many organizations, particularly in North America and Western Europe, knowledge workers are the last real opportunity for competitive differentiation. Social technologies offer the promise of magnifying that differentiation and potentially in dramatic fashion. The question is how do you drive the cultural and organizational change that come with Enterprise 2.0 as quickly and efficiently as possible. At the end of the day, how do you go about setting up the best environment to drive those incredibly valuable serendipitous interactions?
Andrew McAfee, the father of Enterprise 2.0, recently blogged that the way to get to critical mass most quickly is to drop the pilot and go straight to enterprise deployment. While the conversation that followed was somewhat contentious (including some interesting discussion on a panel I was on at the Gilbane Conference yesterday) Andy's main contention is not up for debate. Social networks thrive on scale and critical mass. The more quickly and broadly that the social network evolves, the greater the chance it has to thrive and ultimately produce those accidental and potentially magical interactions.
A few weeks ago IBM invited me to a day-long conference in San Francisco to preview a new product direction around case management. At first I was a bit hesitant because case management is a bit outside of my normal research agenda, but an old pal in IBM analyst relations convinced me to come over. It was well worth the time. What I saw was much more than I expected as IBM plans to productize a true Information Workplace offering around the pervasive business issue of case management. The concept of an Information Workplace, first presented by Forrester in 2005, is defined as:
A software platform now emerging to support all types of information workers by providing seamless, multimodal, contextual, mobile, right-time access to content, data, voice, processes, expertise, business intelligence, eLearning content, and other information through the use of portals, collaboration tools, business process management, content repositories, content analytics, taxonomies, search, information rights management, and other emerging technologies.
This morning Microsoft launched SharePoint 2010, the follow-up to the very successful Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. As the morning progresses, I receive more and more notifications from vendors that are announcing integration strategies for the new offering. Meanwhile, other vendors announce strategies to compete. The social computing vendors are no exception. No matter the strategy, it's clear that SharePoint is creating a market disruption that not only vendors but clients need to address in creating and updating broad collaboration strategies. Many Forrester clients have already begun this assessment process, as evidenced by my inquiry load over the past several months. One question has surfaced repeatedly:
Does SharePoint 2010 affect my plans for social in the enterprise?
Well, yes and no. Here's the 100,000 foot view. If you are committed to SharePoint you really need to take a look at what Microsoft delivers as part of 2010. For many, this release will reach the proverbial "good enough" bar. MySites, already a decent profiling service, continues to improve. Blogs and wikis, which were pretty dismal in MOSS 2007, are quite well done. Key missing elements like tags, tag clouds, community sites and activity streams are now part of the offering. Microblogs, a hot top of mind topic at the moment, are not quite there yet. Interesting. As Twitter explodes and Yammer continues to gain ground in the enterprise, SharePoint comes up short in microblogging. The reason? At least for the time being, SharePoint is dependent on a pretty traditional development cycle and microblogging exploded pretty late in the product development cycle. In other words, SharePoint is now clearly in the social game, but will play the role of fast follower for the time being.