Social Software in the enterprise can have great direct value: human relationships between companies and their customers, and improved collaboration and process within organizations.
However, I think there are 2 important trends of which social software in the enterprise is just the first hint:
1. Enterprise software needs to work for people, not vice versa. Social software is reminding people in enterprise that software can be usable and useful at the same time. Most enterprise software is very powerful, but dramatically underutilized by people who spend more time trying to avoid it than use it. This will no longer be tolerated.
While many companies are putting prettier faces on enterprise software tools these days, this should and will lead to a fundamental change in how software is defined – by talking to its users – not business or IT “subject matter experts”, but actual users.
2. Social software is the beginning of the next generation of corporate scalability and management. Today’s hierarchical management by objectives (sort of) type of business structure evolved over the years from the “divide and conquer” school of thinking. Which is good. But at a certain point “divide” becomes “fracture and scatter”.
Social software – and the cultural changes that make it valuable will change the basic form of corporate structure and leadership. Leadership will play an even more important role -that’s leadership in the real sense of engaging people with your goals and your ideas in a way that makes them want to give their all for it. But authority will be different. Decisionmaking will be different. The opportunities provided by an intense dedication to continual improvement will change the short term, siloed, hide anything that looks like bad news, status quo that has held so many companies and so many people back for so long.
What will this look like?
IT departments will be given new agendas – they’ll start to be evaluated on technology adoption and satisfaction, and the efficiencies gained. They’ll be recruited as partners in solving hard problems. I think they’ll like it.
Senior management will share more information, decentralize decisionmaking and expect a much higher level of efficiency from their teams. And everyone will benefit from that.