Social Computing Best Practices: Why Delta Air Lines is Leading the Way

Disruptive IT Trends2 minutes readAug 25th, 2010

You might have read how Delta Air Lines recently became the first in its industry to let customers book tickets on Facebook. With a population of more than 500 million, the Facebook community is now larger than that of the United States. Socially savvy Facebook users want to do business through Facebook and other social networks.

Facebook wasn’t Delta’s first foray into social technologies. The airline also developed an iPhone application that provides a variety of services, including check-in, flight schedules and status, itineraries, frequent flyer account access, and even flight changes. There’s no question that Delta is leading the way in providing services and interactions that suit the needs and desires of today’s always on, always mobile travelers.

Delta is a great example of a company that understands the consumerization of IT. What they’ve done closes the gap between what consumers want from their favorite brands, and what IT is providing.

In our recent Unisys/IDC survey looking at the consumerization of IT, iWorkers said they wanted to use the same technology at work as they do at home. The number of younger workers who will be blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, and “linking in” will roughly double in the next three years, according to the research findings. And much of this activity will be taking place outside the enterprise borders, on the road, using smart mobile devices, the study found.

The Delta example is just the start of what we believe will be a broad-based move to integrate social media and smartphone apps with enterprise applications. Social computing in the enterprise is beginning to move beyond the borders of the marketing department and brand promotion strategy and into real business transactions that benefit both consumers and the company.

CIOs and IT managers need to start thinking about and addressing these questions as fast as they can (read: now), because the shift in user communications from exclusively e-mail to myriad social channels and platforms (including enterprise social software suites) is happening at record speed. IT departments will need to move quickly so they are not left behind in providing customer and employee services using these technologies while at the same time balancing this with sufficient safeguards in terms of cybersecurity, privacy, and risk management practices.