Way back in 2011 we published a maturity model for the adoption of social technologies and the resulting cultural and process changes that those technologies could enable. Quite a lot has happened since then of course but happily some of the fundamental business impacts from the use of social technologies hasn't. We do understand them more, and there have been a lot more business use cases to examine though, so revising the model at some point was something that we always knew we'd want to address. The idea, that adoption tends to follow a predictable pattern, is pretty well established and a concept that IDC is using across a bunch of technologies recently. Since our original model the process has undergone a standardization effort so that all the models we publish have a similar look and feel. This new maturity model is now called a Maturityscape, and uses a consistent process for the evaluation of the available data to establish the model.
To understand the way we view social technologies today, it's useful to refer to our overarching taxonomy, which focuses on three key experiences; customer experience, employee experience and partner experience. Bridging these 3 experiences are technologies like enterprise social networks, digital commerce and socialytics. The following diagram depicts that approach to social technologies:
I won't spend a lot of time on this concept, something that we developed and published a couple of years ago, but simply use it as a frame of reference for the maturity model.
The revised maturityscape was developed by 3 additional IDC analyst besides me, Vanessa Thompson, Lisa Rowan and Christine Dover. It is explained in detail in this doc (warning, subscription or purchase required to access). Here is the graphic that explains the steps:
As you can see, there are 5 stages of maturity ranging from Ad Hoc or grassroots social adoption efforts, all the way to Optimized, or a reality that has the use of social technologies as inherent in all business processes. More and more, we see this as the future state of social, the inherent incorporation of social into every business workflow and, thus inside all business applications. This idea is strongly represented in a relatively new topic area that we are exploring, the "future of work", which we started as a research thread last year. More on that topic in an upcoming post, and of course in a series of research reports over the next year.
As I was re-reading my post on application silos I realized I forgot to include one additional example of the current problem. Recently Microsoft released Office for iPad. Now going beyond whatever I think of Office in general, I am in a situation where I have to use Office so having it (finally!) available on iPad was a really good thing. The product itself is quite good, maybe in some ways better than using Office on other devices. Needless to say that at first I was quite pleased to have near full Office capabilities on my trusty iPad. Unfortunately that happiness was short lived.
You see Microsoft has always been one of the most closed vendors, and in that, one of the worst offenders to creating application silos. Most of us today use a variety of tools to keep work in sync and to share and collaborate with team members. There are a variety of tools to manage file sync and share in the cloud, and while I like several for different reasons I haven't settled on just one. I suppose that's mostly because I don't have to, I can use several and manage just fine. I use Sugarsync to keep all my files in sync across iPad, 2 Android phones, MacBook Air, iMac and Mac Mini, and it works great. I use Box as well, and could have used it for sync but at the time I started using Sugarsync Box did not yet have a Mac client, so now inertia keeps me using both I guess. Box I use for work and yes, I use Dropbox for some personal sharing, particularly sharing family pics (it's easy and has a great UI). I also use Google Drive (I mean face it, Google has by far the best deal on storage) and I have iCloud for my Apple products as another backup. In other words I use most popular file sync and share tools for one thing or another, mostly out of convenience but also to test and compare (I am an alalyst after all). All of these tools work pretty seamlessly across tools and devices. What you'll see absent from the list is OneDrive. Now recently I am using it for one work activity, the team that I colaborate with uses it, so add another tool, no problem really.
The Microsoft problem though, is that they apparently don't know any of these other tools exist. Office for iPad connects ONLY to OneDrive and local iPad storage, so to move files on and off (or is that in and out) for Office I must use OneDrive. Not a huge deal except my files are also often already in Sugarsync (I back up everything there) and/or Box, Dropbox or Google Drive. This adds another step to my work, moving files in and out of OneDrive on my iMac / MacBook / Mac Mini. Again that wouldn't be a terrible thing but I often now only travel with my iPad and Android phones. Having Office on the iPad really enabled that. Microsoft's arcane idea of supporting only one file sync and share service creates pain and suffering for it's customers, and instead of making me use OneDrive, it makes me HATE OneDrive because of the poor user experience it creates moving files around and trying to keep them in sync (something the software does for me in other circumstances). Now I know what you're thinking, just switch to OneDrive...well, I don't want to. It's about consumer choice remember. I'm the customer and I want to use all of these excellent services, not just the one that Microsoft wants me to use. Wake up Microsoft, the days of closed application systems is over, today it's about openness, open standards and connectivity!
I did a series of videos for eCornell during Dreamforce and one of them fits nicely into this series (now extended to 3 parts) so I thought I'd share it as the 2nd installment. I'll probably share a few others over the next week as well.
As we move into 2013 it's time to take a look back and see what major events shaped and changed enterprise software in 2012. It was an active year, particularly from the standpoint of continued consolidation in the enterprise software markets. Several hot trends continued to drive acquisition activity and product directions, including cloud, mobile, social, Internet of things and data analytics. Social business has started maturing somewhat and is at least much clearer in specific directions and the best areas of focus for businesses to see real benefits.
The cloud wars really started in late 2011 with SAP's acquisition of SuccessFactors but gained momentum throughout 2012. The major enterprise apps vendors are moving quickly to gain footprint and functionality in cloud apps, as well as define platforms and infrastructure. Early in 2012 Oracle fired the first return shot to the SAP / SuccessFactors deal with its bid for Taleo. Not to be left out, IBM joined the HCM race with its acquisition of Kenexa in August. HCM continues to be a hot area for investment, for more on the 2012 HCM market see this guest post from IDC analyst Lisa Rowan.
The next major cloud acquisition came, once again, from SAP with its acquisition of cloud collaborative commerce vendor Ariba. Ariba provided SAP with a full featured and mature cloud based procurement, sourcing and contract management tools and the largest and oldest supplier network. Maybe more valuable though is the cloud expertise and credibility that Ariba's executives added to the SAP management team.
Oracle filled out its cloud portfolio quite a bit by focusing on customer experience. The Oracle Cloud CX suite, which arguably started in late 2011 with the acquisition of RightNow, added social marketing platform Vitrue, socialytics platform Collective Intellect, social media management platform Involver and finally with the recently announced acquisition of marketing automation vendor Eloqua. Combined with other cloud assets in commerce, sales (Fusion CRM), content, etc., the suite has a broad footprint. I wrote about the Eloqua acquisition here. In addition to Oracle's strong move into CX Lithium acquired social support vendor Social Dynamx and IBM moved to redefine it's web experience products in the context of the overall customer experience.
Social business, particularly around enterprise social networks (ESN), applications to support CX strategies, innovation management and talent and performance management, matured quite a bit over the past year. Much like cloud almost all the major tech vendors get involved in social business technology through new acquisitions, new products and enhancements to existing social tools. Existing social vendors also moved to broaden offerings through acquisition.
ESNs are one of the hottest areas for growth as many companies have / are deploying the technology and working to consolidate existing networks. Consolidation in the ESN market started in 2011 and continued last year, as larger tech vendors moved into the space. Adding to VMware SocialCast, Salesforce Chatter, Cisco Webex Social, Tibco Tibbr and IBM Connections Microsoft purchased ESN leader Yammer for $1.2B in June, Oracle made its own Oracle Social Network generally available in the Oracle cloud, Citrix acquired Podio and SAP completely revamped its offering into SAP Jam.
More and more companies are looking for ways to drive adoption of social processes and increase productivity. Getting social embedded into the enterprise workflow is gaining support and more companies are looking for ways of providing an integrated social experience. The trend is gaining momentum as vendors move from social applications to apps that are social, or have social functionality embedded inside the workflow. At Dreamforce 2012 Concur and Salesforce announced a good example of this concept, Concurforce, an app built on the Force.com platform.
As more companies embrace social technologies internally and externally a few issues are growing that will need some answers as we move into 2013. In particular there is a growing skills gap in consulting expertise to help companies drive successful social projects and sort out ongoing operations. I wrote about it here. In addition to the skills gap there is also a growing issue for many companies that have deployed several ESN products, which often grow virally and at least initially without full executive support. This social network sprawl issue is creating the exact opposite of the desired outcome by perpetuating organizational silos. To solve this companies will have to consolidate in some cases and in other they will need to integrate the networks so that functionally a single ESN exists.
Mobile continues to be an enterprise priority as the need to support multiple devices with multiple OSs is expected by employees. Tablets continue to grow in popularity and smartphones are a standard. Many vendors have provided native mobile apps with some subset of enterprise features but are feeling pressured by customers to give compete access to enterprise features on multiple devices. Many vendors moved to provide a better mobile framework on which they can provide a richer mobile experience to cuatomers. Among those vendors that made good strides last year include Netsuite, Deltek, salesforce, SAP and Oracle, although they all have more work for this year.
Internet of things was discussed quite a lot as sensor technology gets better and more and more "things" are added to the network. In the area of automation the use of sensors with new software products is providing benefits as diverse as preventative maintenance to inventory control. From a consumer perspective the mobile device is becoming a "Swiss army knife" of sorts and integrating sensor data opens up many possibilities for health and fitness monitoring to commerce. Look for 2013 to see this trend explode across business and consumer.
There seems to be more pressure on IT over the past few years to redefine and change its roles to be more relevant to the business. What has become more of a governance and enforcer role for many IT organizations is getting pressured to find new ways of adding value as more IT buying decisions get pushed out to the line of business executives. In many companies CMOs now manage a larger IT budget than the CIO, particularly as companies deploy technology to drive CX strategies. The move to the cloud is also changing the staffing requirements for many IT shops. Many IT organizations are finding that they need more of a business process focus and less of a deep developer technical focus. Look for this trend to accelerate in 2013.
In general enterprise software has remained a growth area as companies continue to buy technology. Driving this growth are several trends, including the need to provide better mobile support, the need to get technology that helps facilitate critical CX strategies and the need to provide a more collaborative and networked work environment. As a result of the economic pressures that continue to plague businesses many companies find themselves doing more with considerably less resources. The only reasonable way to maintain and increase productivity is though automation and through better software tools. Hot markets in 2012, social, mobile, CX, etc. will continue to be hot in 2013.
I was having a conversation the other day with a colleague about trends that are impacting and driving change in businesses and as often happens lately we ended up on the subject of business networks. When discussing new concepts we have no choice but to apply words that have existing, accepted meanings, even if those terms don't quite fit what we're trying to say, and add other adjectives to help translate the picture that you have in your head to mutual understanding. For the last few years, as I've focused my research more and more on emerging trends in the enterprise, I've found this task very challenging. Using the word social in some business context for example, is fraught with issues as people try to shoehorn their own understanding of the word into some new frameworks. The word network, I've learned, is another ambiguous term when used in a business context. It seems that the word's techie baggage, while appropriate to some extent in understanding where I'm trying to go with this idea, causes some confusion. The challenge then is to find the right adjective(s) to start to move people in the right direction, or perhaps, even though it's not my favorite activity, delve into a more detailed definition of business network.
The problem with the word network is also part of the strength of applying it to the current emerging business environment. From IT networks that are flexible, scalable, configurable, fault tolerant, accessible from multiple points and on multiple devices, we can borrow concepts that businesses need to begin to apply more broadly. The downside I think, to using the word network is that when many people hear the word they start to think of the physical connectors, the Ethernet cables and routers, etc. that make up the LAN or WAN and that's very limiting. Or perhaps they think of it in terms of the social web, which can also be distracting even though again some of those characteristics apply.
Sitting in the Philadelphia airport early this morning in one of those inviting white rocking chairs they provide, sipping a cup of tea and prompted by the sight of so many people connecting and carrying out business, I had an idea. When I think about business networks in the context of all of the other technical and cultural change factors that I see in our post-industrial information economy, maybe what I mean is "organic business networks". The word organic could be confusing though, but when I think about it in this context I am thinking that it has similar traits to organic computing. Organic computing is a computing system that is self-optimizing, self-healing, self-configuring and self-protecting. More broadly organic models are generally patterns and methods found in living systems used a metaphor for non-living systems. So applying an organic model, organic business networks are networks that represent the interconnectedness of the emerging information business environment. Organic business networks connect people, data / information, content, and IT systems in a flexible, self-optimizing, self-healing, self-configuring and self-protecting system. People are the primary nodes of the network but the other nodes, data, content, applications and systems, are no less important.
A business functioning as an organic business network would incorporate the characteristics of a social business, as I listed here, but go beyond this basic idea, using social business as the operational paradigm but using the organic business network as the mode of operating it's business. The two concepts play off each other, social business is the "what" and the "organic business network" is the how. An organic business network lets the business work outside of traditional "firewall" boundaries and is the continuously adapting implementation of an optimized business strategy. In this approach value creation can move to the optimal point in the network depending on strategic influencers like economy, market dynamics, customer behavior, prospect behavior, partner behavior and needs, supply chain dynamics, predictive business outcomes, etc. An organic business network driven company is the anthesis of a hierarchical, rigid, reactive, process constrained, and silo'ed organization. Instead the business can adapt to changing conditions, leverage assets effectively and thrive in a hyper-connected, global competitive, information driven environment. What do you think, does that add a little clarity?
I like the term social business, I'm comfortable with the concepts I've used a lot over the last two or so years. I think that it captures the necessary transformation that the post-industrial enterprise needs. As I think about social business I've started to use another concept that seems to help clarify things a bit, people-centric enterprise. But, I've started to think that maybe something beyond social business and people-centric enterprise might help us think through what is really happening or should be happening in the business transformation. There are two very key social outputs (see the IDC Social Business Framework for a discussion on social outputs) that we need to consider, content and community, that represent the force of the social web. In the social context content is often represented by social media and community is seen as a social network. So here's my idea, maybe we need to start thinking of the new business model as the networked enterprise?
To build a new model for business we have to leverage the power that comes for shifting the focus from process to people. Relationships are drivers of people-centricity, so doesn't this really mean we're changing from a hierarchy to a network? I considered other terms that apply, connected enterprise, ecosystem, collaborative enterprise...all are relevant. The business transformation has impact on all parts of the business from sales to field service and from inside to out. There's a concept in economics called the network effect, or the tendency that the value of a product or service increases as more people use it. The example of network effect most often cited by business texts is the telephone, a single telephone is useless but value increases the more people have and use it. We see this effect on the social web to a great degree, social networks like facebook and Myspace are relevant because people are connected there and become more or less valuable as more people join / use the service (or don't, so network effect can be both positive or negative).
From what I've started to observe I think that there could be a related concept to the network effect in a networked enterprise. In the networked enterprise there is an effect that I call network synergy, or value to the business is increased as a result of the increased interconnectivity of it's people. The addition of the term synergy implies that the interconnection of people produces a result that could not be obtained if the people were not connected (in simple form it's the idea that 1 + 1 = 3). So in a people-centric business the increased interconnection of employees, suppliers, partners, and customers produces a result greater than what could happen if the network didn't exist, or in other words increases value to the business. The social business, which has people as its platform, performs at a higher level because of network synergy. The more interconnected the business becomes the greater the return from network synergy.
The fun thing about trying to figure out what might happen next in software and business in general is the ability to evolve your thinking over time as you gain more data and more clarity. I suppose that's why IDC's tag line is "analyze the future", that's effectively what my job is, at least a large part of it. Sometimes the process is sort of like putting together a puzzle that is mostly blank pieces, but the pieces slowly reveal themselves to you over time. The more pieces you reveal the better the overall picture becomes. Ok, enough rambling around inside my head, what's the point of this anyway? The point is this, I started a few years ago thinking and talking about social media, social networking and enterprise 2.0. That evolved into social enterprise which I used to mean the combination of e2.0 and social CRM and eventually we started calling the movement social business. As a part of social business I started to dig into a concept that I think is an important key to understanding what is happening, that is, in the transformation of business people become the new enterprise platform. That people-centricity is absolutely critical to understanding and building the processes and systems that facilitate the social business transformation. I'm starting to think though, that social business is really just a part of a bigger thing, the people-centric enterprise.
People-centricity defines our current social and business progression past the industrial society's focus on business, technology and process. Not that business or technology or process go away, but instead they become supporting structures that facilitate new ways of collaborating and interacting with customers, suppliers, partners and employees. The idea also has to permeate system and process design. Here's a simple example from collaboration systems. In the past collaboration was more often that not defined as the ability to share and work on a file, so let's call the system file-centric. File-centricity defines the core of how the system works, it's core workflow. In the defined process you create a file, upload a file, share a file, edit a file, review a file, approve a file, etc. So as long as the collaborative work is about a file the system process is fine. What happens though, when I need to deal with a customer who calls in a service issue, the product they ordered from their account executive is on backorder and won't meet a critical deadline? I probably start by logging the issue in my CRM system of course and then maybe I look up the order history in the order management system...so far so good, I'm doing system-centric tasks. But if the answers are not clearly in the system the work changes. Maybe there is conflicting information in the system so I have to talk to the account executive or the warehouse supervisor (phone, IM, do we have presence or unified communications...email). Perhaps it's a logistics problem or a production problem...all of these are people-centric tasks. From a system perspective the customer service rep needs something to bring interaction with systems, information and people together, not a file.
Working with customers, internal and external business partners, suppliers, logistics providers, at the core they're all people-centric issues. Not that you don't need to share files or work together on files, co-creating documents, sharing information, all of those things support the work and need to be accounted for in a collaboration system, but the focus is on enabling people to people interaction. This concept also extends to process. Current systems do an adequate job of facilitating work process (one might argue some systems are much to rigid, but that's a topic for another post). The problem arises when the work doesn't fit the process. Workers today often spend much more time on problems that fall outside of the business process, or exception processing. Exception processing often involves working outside of systems and gathering temporary teams to work through the issues. These ad hoc work requirements are a necessary part of the business but can take an inordinate amount of the resources. Because they tend to be people-centric, most fall outside the enterprise systems and processes. We need collaboration systems that are social, or people-centric and capable of effectively dealing with the ad hoc nature of information-based work.
This extends to most enterprise systems as well. Project management is really about executing against a plan, or in other words about people working together to accomplish some end goal...which is by its nature social or people-centric. Content management is file centric but if you step above the files and start to think about curation of content, people are once again the key to accomplishment. Many enterprise tasks today have moved to a more people-centric method and the systems have not caught up.
So where am I going with this train of thought...I'm not sure yet. I do know that the concept of people-centric enterprise is important and that it needs to be built into our systems and processes. The shift in focus from process and technology to people is the key to working in a post-industrial information driven business, IMHO. I'm starting to think about a broader research project to try and tie this together across the enterprise and across the underlying systems but the thought is only just starting to come together.
M & A mania is heating up among social solution vendors. Attensity and Biz360, Lithium and Scout Labs, both increasing solution footprint and platform reach. For the last several years start ups have been springing up building out social business solutions and platforms. As is often the case, these new companies initially focused on a narrow part of the overall social business landscape. As they gain momentum (and customers) they learn what adjacent solutions their customers are seeking and start to look at expanding their footprint. This is a natural progression in tech business and something we've seen over and over. It seems that social business has reached the stage where customers are realizing value from their initial deployments and are looking to do more and carry their success farther,
Lithium's focus is on providing a complete social CRM platform for building and managing social support communities. While feature rich, with community management, mobile, knowledge base, reputation engine, content moderation, workflow, profile management, analytics and connectivity with leading CRM solutions, its focus was on the private label or branded customer community. With the proliferation of public social media and network sites and the growing popularity of using those sites for everything from purchase decision research to product support advice, it became obvious that the branded customer community was only a part of the complete picture of supporting and interacting with customers. The addition of Scout Labs' platform to the Lithium platform combines the branded community platform with a platform to monitor, measure and manage interactions on the public side of the social web. Now the branded support community can add the capabilities to hear what customers are saying in real time on public social networks and media channels, better monitor, understand and reach out to influencers outside the community to build relationships, add proactive customer support and engage customers more effectively in new product and marketing ideas with both platforms in the cloud. This holistic view of the customer, especially in the area of support, is essential and really starts to provide support to customers when, where and how they choose, which is IMHO the most important shift in thinking for effective social support initiatives.
Content of any type is not useful unless you can find it, organize it and interact with it. In the enterprise companies have tried many different schemes to try and get business content collected in a central repository, organized, tagged, version controlled, and searchable. This has often taken the route of "content management" systems. Content management systems to varying degrees, do an adequate job of getting some content into a controlled system environment. There are challenges with content management systems on two fronts though, getting content into the system in the first place (getting employees to participate in inputting content in some way) and getting the right content into the hands of the person who actually needs it. Search helps find content and tagging can increase searchability of course, but the whole system is only as good as the ability to input and tag the content, which inherently requires broad participation. To me it seems that the problem isn't management of content but the opposite, liberation of content.
Curation of content is a concept that is gaining momentum across various media types online. If you want to learn more about curation you can check out CurationNation. The idea though, revolves around involving human interaction with content to filter and organize. Combined with the power of the social web, curation has the potential to change the way we collect, consume, organize and share content online. Socialization of content could take the form of curation if a social system was applied to the process.
I had the pleasure this week of chatting with Patrice Lamothe, CEO of French startup pearltrees and since that meeting joining and using the pearltrees system. Here's a screenshot of my account:
The concept is fairly simple really. Pearltrees is a social network with tools and processes to capture, organize and share web content or pearls. As you browse and read things online you can capture those "things" in your pearltrees (web pages, blogs, Tweets, etc.). The social aspect of pearltrees then allows your content to be viewed, searched and linked together by others with similar interest. You can add pearls from others into your trees and share the pearls in pearltrees, facebook, Twitter, email, permalink and also embedded in other web pages. Here's an embedded pearltree from my account:
Overall I'm starting to think that pearltrees is useful and that curation or socialization of content has a lot of application in the enterprise. An enterprise private label version of pearltrees, although not available today, could form the center of a social content process that would address many of the current content challenges for businesses. I'm enjoying using pearltrees for my own research although I'm looking forward to a non-flash version so that I can use it on my iPad, which has become my primary content consumption tool. (They are working on an HTML5 version for later this year)