2012 IT Prediction: Social Computing Application Integration Drives Heightened Productivity, Connection, and Insights
2011 marked an important milestone for Enterprise Social Computing, establishing it as a core strategic business capability – a solid promotion from a “nice-to-have, optional service”. This evolution has been following the Technology Adaptation Lifecycle for Social Computing that Unisys published in 2010. Having overcome the initial adoption challenges, companies are rapidly re-wiring their organizations with social collaboration capabilities to create an empowered, dynamic, and networked workforce and to engage more deeply with their customers and business partners.
In 2012, we expect that organizations will accelerate the trend towards socially-enabling their client-facing channels and contact points, to gain greater connection to consumers and drive insights into client behavior that can improve service and client loyalty. Organizations will rapidly integrate social technologies into the fabric of their core enterprise applications in areas such as customer relationship management, case management, exception handling, and other transactional systems. There will also be greater use of advanced social networking technologies to enhance employee collaboration in geographically distributed enterprises – helping to improve efficiency, employee satisfaction, and overall client service levels.
Let’s explore these areas in some more detail. So far, investments in social computing have helped organizations create a solid baseline, social computing framework which supports internal employee collaboration and knowledge management and/or external customer engagement initiatives. Over the next couple of years, we expect to see this infrastructure transform into a new ubiquitous architectural layer, some call the “Enterprise Social Layer”. This new enterprise capability will redefine not only how we collaborate with colleagues, prospective and existing customers, and business partners but will also provide a wide range of social collaboration support for critical business processes and transactions.
Today, leading organizations are proactively engaged in building on their initial Social Computing experience, gained through global employee collaboration, knowledge management, corporate communications, marketing, customer forums and technical support communities. These companies have started to take this capability to their transactional, line-of-business applications by social-enabling business-specific functions supporting core business objectives (Figure-1). Early adoption has given sectors such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) a head start in this direction.
Social Computing has the potential to greatly improve certain types of business workflow by cutting cycle-time for manual processes like exception handling. So far, process automation technology has struggled with unstructured, irregular, ad-hoc processes that rely on manual collaboration and expert judgment. Some examples include insurance claims, supply-chain operations, case management, citizen reporting and exception handling. Most enterprise applications that require real-time employee collaboration and knowledge sharing for decision-making purposes, or those that require manual or “out-of-application” actions or holistic reasoning will benefit from the extended-reach, faster cycle-time, and automation of “social-enablement.”
The opportunity is here and the time is now. Companies that embed social computing into their enterprise application fabric can gain productivity benefits across line of business applications and processes because it can inject a rich social experience and significant, expedited human insight into every end-user touch point.