[These are my notes from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2012 in Boston. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]
- Innovations Since 2006. Social network sites, smartphone and tablet apps, business applications are all using activity streams. This has resulted in a more tech savvy user with greater demands in the workplace. And, it has changed the technology conversation within the enterprise.
- Individualizing the IT Experience. For years, IT has delivered an “application-centered” experience. Now IT needs to provide a “people-centered” experience at work. This is the great lesson from mobile devices and apps. It also represents a huge change for IT.
- What Does the Enterprise Social Experience Want? (1) Focus on the individual; (2) leveraging familiarity (e.g., familiarity gained through consumer social experiences on Facebook and the like), (3) acknowledge constraints — these are inevitable given the business, confidentiality and security requirements of business.
- The Social Online Workplace. Start with social messaging, then add collaborative content, as well as content from business applications that matters to the individual. This is an “inside out” focus that begins with the individual. The activity stream shouldn’t be in a separate silo — it should be available in different form factors and displayed within the context of where the individual chooses to work.
- How Can IT Enrich the Enterprise Social Graph? IT knows who works with whom. And IT knows what applications everyone uses. Imagine what could happen if IT could surface application data within a social graph? For example, showing John Doe information produced by Jack Smith because they both work with the same business application and are reasonably proximate within the organization’s social graph. IT could also recommend that John and Jack follow each other or get to know each other based on their shared work interests.
- Social Network Aggregation Services. Similar to other aggregation services such as search, these social network aggregation services combine content from multiple sources. This is challenging, the work is not trivial — it requires more than just APIs. Consequently, vendors will have to offer something more sophisticated for information architects.
- Working with Email and Instant Messaging. Each system works with different lists — address lists, lists of people I’m following, friends lists, buddy lists, etc. Rather than juggling all of these, we should be able to have a single list of the people I’m in contact with.
- Working with Documents. For years, we’ve put documents in files. Overtime, these become blackholes of content. Often, they become personally owned. Cannell believes it would be better if they were group-owned. This would facilitate collaboration. Then the activity streams could be integrated and displayed for the group.
- Portals. Portals are not de facto social. When badly implemented, they simply open a window on existing silos. They don’t fully integrate the content.
- Search. There is significant overlap between search and some social functionality. However social software is having an impact on search. For example, activity stream filtering/visualization. This is a newer way of doing faceted search. In addition, integrating tag clouds and allowing search on those could be powerful.
- Impact of Social on Business Applications. The innovation lies in displaying activity streams and social graph information within the context of a business application. Admittedly, this could give rise to security concerns: who controls access to an object embedded in an activity stream?
- What Should IT Do? (1) Focus on providing people-centered experiences rather than application-centered experiences. (2) Do not push social networks as the next email system. This diminishes the role of social software and may mislead the user. (3) Rethink IT priorities to enable “individual first.” Simplicity is personal and contextual. Reconsider “need to know” policies in terms of sensible information reuse. (4) Solicit line of business ownership. Treat social as an extension of business processes. (5) Data management and availability is critical. Data may be siloed and noisy. It will need to be aligned. (6) IT cannot own the social experience, it can own the technology. IT can help businesses understand the value and step up to own the social experiences.
- IT matters more than ever, but IT needs to change its priorities in order to be relevant in the Social Online Workplace.