@adrianmelrose

by Adrian :: 3.12.10

Social Software for Business and the death of email.

Email isn’t a collaboration tool

I’m not the first to claim that email will slowly be phased out of our workplace as the tool of choice. To explain this rather ballsy statement I need to start by ensuring you don’t glaze over when I talk about an tired old term:  Web2.0

Explaining Web2.0

If you asked me, I could write an epistle on how Web2.0 brought us social software that changed our lives forever, helping us to share, discover and collaborate: how it liberated access to the vast information stores we never imagined. My awards would go to Wikipedia (wiki) , Delicious (social bookmarking) and Twitter (social networking)

Enterprise2.0

Knowing and understanding how Web 2.0 continues to enrich our lives, we’re now ready to introduce Enterprise 2.0 into the equation. That’s an easy jump: it’s all about taking the principles and value of Web2.0 into the workplace. Don’t get confused by the word Enterprise because I’ve experienced Enterprise 2.0 tools adding enormous value to a modest little startup. Its easy to imagine how Web2.0 tools can help us share, discover and collaborate in the workplace.

Mountains have been written about how Enterprise 2.0 has opened up the information flows and encouraged people to work better and smarter; to share knowledge. You don’t have to look hard to find some robust case studies too. But… more people agree that Enterprise 2.0 hasn’t yet transformed the workplace because of the culture of command and control. In a traditional business, change is brought about by management and the very same management ends up scared by Enterprise 2.0 worried about losing control. Up until now, Entreprise 2.0 success stories have been brokered by early adopters lower down the ranks in an organisation. These change agents have written their job specs because management have inevitably seen the value that they have created by opening up the control structures of their organisations. Also an ageing piece of collateral but check out the Meet Charlie Case Study

Facebook for the Enterprise

I’m excited by Salesforce.com‘s ambitions to turn their cloud platform into “Facebook for the Enterprise” by creating social network hubs around data points in their organisation. salesforce.com is the first to to this because they are agile by the very definition of being a cloud vendor. Chatter was launched to all salesforce.com‘s existing clients one morning – at a flick of a switch. Of course it’s still up to management whether to turn on the Chatter functionality in their organisation which can also be done at a press of a button – no additional costs or implementation nightmares. The other benefit ist its adoption is championed socially (almost virally).  Any organisation that’s had the foresight to move its data and applications to the cloud won’t have a challenge grasping the enterprise 2.0 “nettle”but the difference with Chatter is that its a social tool integrated in and around their existing data points. Let me explain

Client records and documents become a social networking hun

No longer do you have a social network centred around a vertical practice or a geography but now you have a social network built around a client record. So using a Twitter-like service called “Chatter” everyone in an organisation that has an interest in a particular client can collaborate around that common interest. Who might those people be? Obviously the account manager but also the credit controller who wants to make sure the account manager isn’t selling something new without getting the client to first pay their outstanding bill, the product manager who needs to know if the product isn’t meeting customer expectations; the customer service agent who fielded a call centre call and the programmer who created the product in the first place. Suddenly you can see an organisation able to move away from the left-hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Suddenly, you’re able to cut across the functions of a business to co-ordinate what counts the most – a happy customer and a profitable business.

Equally so you could develop a social network around a document which obviously allows you to collaborate and knowledge share to a greater degree. All the activity on the areas of the business I care about – customers, client contacts, colleagues &  documents – all falls into my enterprise stream. Powerful stuff.

….and email is allowed to slowly die a a very welcome death.

Update Consider reading this article on the Cloud Blog it was posted just before the main event at Dreamforce opens.

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