I'm spending the week at Salesforce's Dreamforce conference (more on that in a post coming shortly) and at the partner keynote on Tuesday I watched a product demo that got me thinking about this concept that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, applications that are social. Actually what I said was that instead of social applications we need to move to a place where all applications are inherently social. We have some distance to travel before we can get to a place where every application is social, but I'm starting to see some good examples of applications that incorporate social as a core part of the functionality and applications that are social are pretty compelling when you start to understand what they can do.
Take Concurforce as an example. Concurforce is built on the Force.com platform and provides an interesting intersection of two business processes that increase in value when mashed up and socialized. Because the app is built on Force, it gets access to the Salesforce Chatter employee social network (ESN) tool and Concur does a good job on opening it up to serve as a way to collaborate around travel and expenses. The app goes beyond that though, and adds maps trip details to sales / prospect data, as well as creating a single experience for managing travel and expenses. From a trip planning perspective it let's Salesforce SFA users plan sales trips, capture expenses (and manage this aspect of the cost of the sale), and even collaborate on mundane things like dinner reservations. From a productivity perspective putting the two processes together saves time but also helps maximize the effectiveness of every trip.
Concurforce isn't the only example of an application that is social though. Salesforce / Unit4 joint venture company FinancialForce also leverages the fact that it's built on the Force platform to get inherent social capabilities. Now you might question why ESN features are so important for financials but don't forget that finance departments have lot's of need to be collaborative both with each other and with other departments and with clients. The monthly and yearly close process, for example, is a very social process that benefits greatly from having an embedded ESN. FinancialForce also offers a professional services automation solution and uses the Chatter ESN to provide the necessary collaborative features and functions that are absolutely critical for managing client engagements and delivering projects.
The transition to applications that are inherently social will take some time, but it is a reality today.