Social Computing Trends in 2013: Integration – A Key to Maximizing Value

and January 18th, 2013Social Business

Organizations are tapping into the power of social computing to enhance employee collaboration, connect better with a new generation of customers, partners and other stakeholders, and attract and retain top talent. As they continue to do this in 2013, we anticipate they will start to see social silos appearing due to the proliferation of social features within a broad number of third-party enterprise software products, such as CRM and ERP, in addition to their core collaboration and knowledge management platforms within the business enterprise.

To counter this technological silo-effect that threatens the premise of social collaboration objectives, we believe that organizations will need to ensure they have enterprise-wide social computing strategies that incorporate business objectives for social enablement and, additionally, rationalize their overall technical approaches for implementation. These technical approaches will consider integration among disparate social engine platforms and with appropriate enterprise applications from which more effective knowledge sharing and collaboration can speed cycle times, improve operating efficiencies and enhance employee learning.

The clock is ticking. Even several years ago, predictions from the technology research firm, Gartner, indicated that social technologies would be integrated with most business applications by 2016. Once considered a “nice to have” collaboration enabler, social technologies are now an essential driver of effective business collaboration both within the business enterprise as well as externally through marketing channels. The current focus on socially-modernizing enterprise applications that support key customer facing process such as case management and problem resolution will continue as collaboration among and speed to information for knowledge workers begin to demonstrate expected productivity and customer engagement gains. However, greater emphasis will be placed on leveraging social technology to improve more transparent sharing of ideas that contribute to new or refined innovations and to increase the speed of innovation processes.

In 2013, leading edge companies will focus their attention on integrating social technologies into Human Resource functions, specifically recruiting, employee onboarding, and contextual and experiential learning as a means to attract, develop and retain top talent. In her book, “The 2020 Workplace,” author Jeanne Meister states “Millennials are likely to select an employer based on the ability to access the latest tools and technologies at work”. As we look toward the future 2020 workforce, the lines between managing one’s personal life and business career will be blurred as the next generation of workers, the “2020s”, will expect companies to provide an environment that enables them to manage both. BYOD programs, unified communications platforms, mobile applications and advanced use of video streaming to capture, share and consume tacit knowledge and learning will also become commonplace.

Gamification – the ability to influence and drive desired behaviors and imbed learning into game-based activities, including spotlighting and badging, will become more prominent within the business enterprise as well as in external social channels as a means to educate and train employees, influence and transform cultural behaviors and increase customer engagement. In fact, Gartner predicts that “70 percent of Global 2000 businesses will be managing at least one game-based application or system by 2014.”

In support of these cultural and technology shifts, CIOs’ social computing strategies will begin to incorporate cloud e-mail, collaboration services and social computing platforms into an overall approach for next generation enterprise-wide collaboration.

Finally, as more social data becomes available for analysis, from inside the organization and from external social networks, organizations will also look to gain insights that go beyond usage and activity metrics and sentiment analysis to include data which aids complex decision-making processes in support of competitive marketplace advantage, real-time refinements, and course, corrections for their customer-facing product and service strategies.