Social is a Feature of Software You Already Use In Your Enterprise

By Mark Drapeau posted 04-08-2010 16:52


When the word “social” is used in a conversation with the average enterprise user about computing or software, it typically invokes two reactions.

The first reaction is a feeling that social software is casual, silly, for kids, a waste of time, a loss of productivity. The second is that social computing or social software in actuality means “social media,” a loosely-defined term for generally free, unreliable, interesting, casual, silly Web 2.0 technologies that may or may not be useful in an enterprise.

Social software is, in fact, all of those things. But it is so much more. Social is a feature of software you already use in your enterprise to get stuff done.

My writing will focus on “social” not as a dirty word, not as a waste of time, not as a vague Web 2.0 company run by five guys in someone’s garage. This is not to disparage dirty words, wasting time, and garages – I like all of these things. But those things are not, by and large, very helpful to people within large enterprises trying to conduct business.

Backing up for a minute, since this is my first post, this allows a bit of “who I am and where I’m coming from” material. I will take that liberty. I’ve worked in various large enterprises as an adult – first in academia, then in the government, and now in a large corporation. In all cases, it was difficult to find people I needed to talk to. It was difficult to even find out who the people were that I needed to talk to in the first place. A lot of that comes down to the organizations not being “social” enough through their software.

So after stints working with large genomics datasets at NYU, working on defense policy regarding the Web within a large government bureaucracy, and now thinking about public sector innovation as part of Microsoft, I find myself writing a column about Enterprise 2.0 and all the things that come with it. What is there to say?

Games are important.

What’s that? Games are important? I thought you were talking about social software to get business done, Mark. Well, I am. Did you know that the new version of Microsoft Office comes with a “game” called Ribbon Hero that helps you learn features of Excel, Powerpoint, and so forth? And did you know that it borrows gaming features like points and social networks of friends from the Xbox so that you can compete against your Facebook friends to learn business software better?

I bet you probably didn’t.

Ribbon Hero is just one small example of how companies like Microsoft are taking a different viewpoint of what “social” means to an enterprise, and to software in general. Social is a feature of software that you use to complete your mission, to run your business, and to be more productive.

You’ll be seeing a lot more about that in my column.

#games #learning #social #productivity