I am pleased to be back for my sixth Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. Here is a link to a summary of last year’s notes. This is another of my notes for this year. There will be more to follow. I attended session - The Post-2.0 Era: Social in the Context of My Work led by Larry Cannell, Research Director, Gartner Inc.. Here is the session description:
“The widespread adoption of Facebook, the embrace of activity streams by business applications, and the success of smartphone applications have significantly changed information worker expectations since Enterprise 2.0 was introduced in 2006. Post-2.0 technologies are enabling the Social Online Workplace, a worker-centric yet social environment facilitating ongoing discussions that are seeded by messages coming from individuals, business applications, and collaborative tools.
This is an opportunity for the IT organization to get out in front of this change and start planning how to provide social infrastructure within an enterprise architecture. While the initial application of these new architectural components should be on improving worker effectiveness by enabling ambient awareness of activities within a sphere of responsibilities, the social online workplace can also become a powerful new knowledgebase.”
Larry had a great crowd for Thursday morning. He has been involved in collaboration for over 20 years, officially for the past 14 years. He feels that IT is needed more than ever and I certainly agree (see Maybe Enterprise 2.0 Is About the Technology). Innovations since 2006 since the E20 term came out: social network sites, smart phone and tablet apps, business apps using activity streams. I agree as activity streams are a core breakthrough in enterprise capability building on top of Twitter but going way beyond it. Larry said we are now longer copying consumer web social behavior. We are moving beyond collaboration for its own sake.
Enterprise social is moving into a primary IT environment and needs all the support IT can bring. Now the move is from app centered and now we can move to a people centered experience. Instead of going from one app to another now that the apps can be transparent in the context of the user rather the reverse. The real value of mobility is that it provides a user centered experience. This is a big change for IT.
What does the enterprise social experience want? Focus on the individual, leverage familiarity, acknowledge constraints such as security, policy, budget.
What is the new IT environment? Enterprise activity streams are pervasive. They provide a unifying experience for enterprise social suites like IBM Connections. Business apps are starting to use the activity streams like Salesforce Chatter and tibbr. Now Oracle provides social network services. There are event notifications and exception handling and these can stimulate conversations. The vendors see this as the potential to provide a consolidated activity stream across the enterprise (such as Microsoft’s interest in Yammer).
Larry offered a vision of the social online workplace with ongoing discussions. It includes social messaging, collaborative content, and business apps, all connected. This gives the person much more control over what is happening. The activity stream needs to be where you want to work and the device you want to use. It could be in a workspace, business app, or email. It needs to contextual.
The social graph offers new opportunities. This social activity is rich in metadata. The resulting social graph becomes a rich data set that is available through search or other means. Larry showed an example. Where suggestions for people to connect who are not yet connected or relevant content to someone’s current activity. The connections become a map of the social activity within an enterprise.
He showed an architecture where business apps that provide context in which people work. They are also sources of social data. Then aggregation services can collect the social data either passively or proactively. IT needs to help this to get this to work. Data needs to be cleaned up so it can be aligned. This is not always easy. APIs are not the total answer. There is much more to do and some heavy lifting by IT needs to step in for the long-term capability.
There is impact on other iT services including: email and IM, documents, portals, search, and business applications. People lists need to be consolidated. Files tend to be black holes for content. The movement from files to more group enabled and transparent space will be helpful to get content accessible.
There is also impact on search. The metadata creates facets that can enable filtering of activity streams. You can search on different dimensions such as people, communities, as well as content.
The impact on business apps includes contextual exposure through the activity stream and social graph. Security becomes an issue as who has access to the activity stream content is an issue. In whose activity stream will it appear?
So what should IT do? Focusing on providing people-centered experienced. Move away from an application focus. Look at how work is being done so you can help it and perhaps change it to be more productive. You need to make people more efficient not apps more efficient, which has been the main focus for the past 40 years. Also IT needs to rethink priorities to make sure simplicity is personal and contextual. Make data available and reconsider the “need to know” security policies. It gets in the way of sharing and discovery.
Make sure the user experience comes first. And see social as extensions of business processes and have line of business ownership. IT needs to provide leadership in the social software space and educate the business units on possibilities. It is needed more than ever to enable people-centered experiences despite what Nick Carr wrote. But it requires a different IT. Great session.