Is There Really A Social Business Imperative?

By Ethan Yarbrough posted 11-02-2010 02:38


I have a lot of random thoughts going through my mind this week. I think they are somehow connected.

First: The Social Business Imperative

I’m hearing this concept and even this specific phrase more and more.

As far as I know, the phrase “Social Business Imperative” comes from the CEO of Jive Software, Tony Zingale (you can see a great slide deck of his on this topic here). But the idea certainly seems to also underpin any number of Jive competitor products – Moxie Spaces, SocialText, Cisco, Leverage Software, etc., etc. The idea of the social business is gaining attention and software makers are fighting to corner the market on the idea for their own product. So it’s an imperative to them.

But is social business an imperative to the IT budget-makers?

Because here’s the second randomly-connected thought running through my head this week:

IT Budgets are up, but not that far up

Last week I mentioned Margo Day’s keynote address from Seattle SharePoint Palooza. One of the many memorable points she made was the fact that research shows that going into 2011 IT budgets are up compared to 2009 and 2010 levels. That’s good news. But that same research also shows that even these increased budgets don't cover the volume of IT projects that companies need to complete.

We can expect more spending on IT, but companies are still going to have to be very precise about how they prioritize projects.

If you look through Tony Zingale’s slides you’ll see his list of businesses that are “social businesses” already. The list includes: Nike, Charles Schwab, Lufthansa, Etrade, Scotiabank, Mattel, Kaiser Permanente, Disney and Nintendo just to name a handful. Lots of different industries, but they have one thing in common: they’re all really big companies. They are all investing in social tools to connect employees to one another and to better connect the company to customers in an active listening stance.

That’s great. But you know what people were excited about at the SharePoint Palooza sessions I listened to? Dashboards.

People wanted to see how do you take scattered data from different parts of the organization and tie them into a single view that tells, at a glance, the story of how the company is performing right now?

And that’s the third random idea I’m dealing with:

If Enterprise 2.0 means “Social Business” then is Enterprise 2.0 something that only large businesses will spend on?

The audience for SharePoint Palooza was small- and medium-sized businesses trying to maximize their return on investment in SharePoint. It’s purely observational, but based on what I saw piquing peoples’ interests, I just didn’t come away feeling like “social business” was as much of an imperative as “integrated business”. That is, a business in which data sources are connected and accessible to stakeholders and decision-makers at all times on multiple devices so they can always feel in touch with what’s really happening at the balance sheet level.

That move from siloed to integrated systems is Enterprise 2.0 too. And for me it raises a fourth random idea: All Social Businesses Are Enterprise 2.0 Businesses, But Not All Enterprise 2.0 Businesses Are Social Businesses.

This is a difficult week for me because I always want to say something useful here. I always want to share with you something I’ve concluded. But this week all I am able  to offer is a look at what I’m wondering about at the moment: what is really the imperative for your business right now -- more social or better integration of data systems? If your company has more IT projects than budget, what are you prioritizing in 2011?

#ThoughtFarmer #Jive #sharepoint2010 #SocialText #Cisco #TonyZingale #MoxieSpaces #SocialBusiness #SystemIntegration