Social Computing social computing
How is Social Computing Impacting Business?

Social computing has evolved our communications in more ways than I can tweet about. I say that jokingly, but in reality it has. Obviously, it impacts each of us differently and is mostly a generational experience. I will give you two opposite ends of the spectrum. My parents don’t own a computer and it doesn't affect them at all. My children, both young adults now, have iPhones and laptops. My wife and I have learned about things going on in our own house via Twitter and Facebook. I drive my daughter home on late nights from school, which is typically 10:30 pm, and she is typing on the keyboard of her iPhone the whole time. For my children, dialing a phone is a last ditch effort to communicate and when they do - we think something is wrong or it's an emergency.

With this generational divide in communications, what is a business to do? They need to implement a social strategy. Businesses can learn more about themselves through social networks than they will hear from this up-and-coming generation of employees and customers through a phone call. They can build their brand and reputation by participating in the social conversations that are taking place whether they like it or not. Businesses are no longer controlling the conversation about their brand and must embrace this critical communication channel.

In March 2013 at Phorum Philly, I attended a panel discussion on the impact of Social Computing in the Workplace that was moderated by Peter Coffee, VP / Head of Platform Research, The panelist represented start-up and well know companies that were involved in implementing social computing in their environments or delivering a social platform to businesses. One of the key things I learned was the importance of strong culture to be able to execute a successful social strategy. One of the panelists was working with a company that could not use his social platform, because of the company’s culture. People would be afraid to communicate over fear of losing their jobs in that particular culture.

Also in March 2013, Marc Benioff, CEO of, kicked off the Customer Company tour in Boston and announced that Chatter, an activity stream platform, would become the primary interface for Tech Crunch called this “A Bold Yet Risky Move.” To me, this approach makes sense based on how I keep up-to-date at home via Twitter and Facebook. It does not mean that I will not talk to my children in person, but it does mean that I will listen to the social conversations as well. Businesses need to keep in mind that the next generation communicates through Social Networks. Social CRM
Forbes magazine published an article titled Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Social CRM and the Social Enterprise in October 2012. They talk about how the best CRM systems improve relationships and can take a business in to new markets. The story explores using social networks to further enhance the value of a CRM system and how is capitalizing on these factors. They indicate that Social CRM grew 30% in 2011 in revenue terms and is 7% of total CRM spending globally as of 2011.

The story takes a detour stating that the reality of Social CRM is that many enterprises aren’t finding what they need with existing vendors. So they are quietly building their own CRM systems, because the technology should support and streamline relationships not control them. Having been involved in building a CRM system, I would recommend against the idea of building your own. You should be capitalizing on the investment that is being made by the vendors in the technology that they specialize in. Apply the 80/20 rule in your search for a vendor and know that if the vendor is customer focused, they will listen to their clients and add the necessary enhancements. Sometimes we get hung up in getting 100% of what we want in a product and we miss the opportunity to maximize our ROI.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant for Social CRM shows, Jive and Lithium as the market leaders and that has highest ratings on the ability to execute with a completeness of vision about equal to Lithium's. The article states that has an edge on achieving high adoption rates throughout the enterprise, because of their product strategy that emphasizes ease of customization and use. Social Collaboration Vendors
The Forrester Wave™: Cloud Strategies of Online Collaboration Software Vendors, Q3 2012 has IBM,, Microsoft, Box and Yammer as the leaders. This is a slightly different approach, because the focus is on collaboration, where as Gartner was focused on Social CRM. IBM shows with strong current offerings and strategy, Microsoft has the strongest current offering with slightly weaker strategy and is positioned between them in strategy with a slightly weaker current offering then both IBM and Microsoft.

Forrester points out that there is an explosion of online collaboration vendors in the market and they are rushing to keep up with demand for more and more features. In order to provide agility and be more responsive, businesses are using these tools to empower employees, customers and partners in the company's ecosystem. Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings are being deployed by more than half of those surveyed because of faster delivery of new features and functions. The traditional three to five year on-premises deployment models are not able to keep pace with SaaS. To re-iterate what I said earlier with regards to the younger generation of employees and customers, this is the new norm according to Forrester's knowledge worker research.

Currently, I am using Jive and with Chatter to better understand and differentiate the two products. My initial experience with both is that the mobile (iPhone app) platform lags behind the desktop browser offering - most notably the lack of bring alerts to your attention in the mobile experience. I would have to believe that work is being done to better communicate with the remote user via push notifications. Applications like Facebook and Meetup excel in this area, because I can read them without unlocking the phone. This enables me to be aware before I even log in to the phone.

I would encourage you to review both articles for a deeper understanding of the product offerings and ratings applied by both Gartner and Forrester.