Three Characteristics of a Great Social Enterprise Product
MENLO PARK, Calif., June 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — David Carr recently published a great article over at The BrainYard titled “Social Software Emphasis Shifts To Getting Work Done“. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone in the enterprise technology business, and there are a few insights in there from Larry Cannell at Gartner that speak directly to some of the reasons we believe we’re building a hugely valuable product and business here at Knoodle.
As much as I agree, however, with the premise that social software – particularly enterprise social software – is about getting work done, I take issue with the notion that there has been a shift to that perspective. Even blogs, wikis and RSS feeds – which Carr correctly points out as the best examples of ‘social enterprise 1.0′ – were about getting work done. Obviously, they are by their very nature open, unstructured and easily subject to inefficiency and misuse, but they flourished because they made iteasier for teams to efficiently share information and collaborate around a particular goal, project or objective.
Making Collaboration Possible To Anyone In Context
Instead, the real shift that I see with social enterprise technology is the application of social technology principles to specific sets of use case or activity-based verticals. Cannell touches on this with his reference to context. One-size-fits all tools such as RSS do a horrible job of incorporating context, and so that’s in large part what’s driving the ‘social enterprise 2.0′ products that are rapidly gaining presence and prominence in the enterprise.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a widely held belief that adding an activity feed into the UI automagically makes a product social, and also unfortunately, the article doesn’t do much to dispel this misconception. I suppose we can thank Facebook for the (mis)perception that if something looks like your Facebook page, it must be social. While it is true that an activity feed does indeed bring the kind of ‘ambient awareness’ of activity into an application – which is certainly an important part of the equation – its mere existence does not a social enterprise application make.
In contrast, great social enterprise applications share a few key characteristics that dovetail with the primary context. Clearly, collaborative interaction is chief among them. Making it possible for anyone on the team to both contribute and consume information, documents, assets, etc., relevant to the context. It’s no different than the philosophy behind wikis, but the methods, UI, and UX are specifically built around the context.
Extending Collaboration Throughout Internal & External Ecosystem
Another key requirement is the ability to engage and collaborate with the entire ecosystem of your business, not just the teams that sit within the four (or more) walls of your office. There are few, if any, examples of a context in which a business wouldn’t benefit from interaction, feedback or collaboration with customers, channels or partners. Great social enterprise products build that into the foundation, not as an add-on feature.
Managing Your Community
Finally, there is a characteristic to which we here at Knoodle refer as ‘managed community.’ Collaboration and community go hand in hand, but unlike consumer social tools that thrive on unfettered and unrestricted connections, the realities of social in a business context bring the need to exercise a certain amount of…dare I say…control over that community. And by control, I don’t mean moderating negative customer feedback on your support forum page, but instead the ability to manage business constraints such as confidentiality requirements, differing organizational focus or even regulatory issues…while still fostering collaboration within the relevant context. And we can’t forget that the primary goal of any enterprise product – including social enterprise products – is to help businesses perform better. If a product doesn’t achieve that sustainable performance improvement, then ultimately it will fail.
There is no doubt a laundry list of other common characteristics, but I think these three build the foundation. A number of companies have already built fantastic examples of great social enterprise products that reflect this foundation. Salesforce helped pave the way for the social enterprise movement, and since then companies like Rypple (social HR), Desk.com (social help desk) and Box (social document collaboration) have all applied their particular context filter to build products that help businesses to perform better around a specific set of use cases or activities. Perhaps not surprisingly, we use several of those products ourselves, and are building Knoodle around a similar mission and foundation, which in our case is focused on the context of learning and knowledge management for business.
What do you think? We’d love your thoughts and feedback on what you think makes a great social enterprise product. What other social enterprise products do you love?
Read the original blog post here: http://www.knoodle.com/blog/three-characteristics-great-social-enterprise-product
About The Author
Andrew Steele is the Head of Product & Marketing at Knoodle. He has a 20 year track record of building successful businesses around disruptive technology. Prior to joining Knoodle, Andrew was Co-Founder and CEO of Truedomain, founder Steele Consulting Group, and held executive business development, marketing and sales roles at Terayon, MetaTV, and Microsoft. He holds a BBA with Honors from the University of Miami, and an MBA from Georgia State University.
Knoodle is the social learning platform for your company. We help your people learn faster and do their jobs better by combining the depth of traditional enterprise learning technology with the immediacy and interactivity of social tools to make learning and knowledge sharing a natural part of the work day.
Companies big and small trust Knoodle to achieve a broad range of critical business objectives, ranging from product training and demos, to employee onboarding, training and certification programs, to broad social learning communities that bring together employees, customers and the ecosystem of partners. Knoodle delivers its solutions through the cloud, so there is no software to install and manage, deployment occurs in minutes not months, and is accessible anywhere and on any device.
For more information, visit www.knoodle.com.
Media Contact: Tony Yang Knoodle, 650-518-5338, firstname.lastname@example.org
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