The Four Phases of Social Computing’s Evolution in the Enterprise

Disruptive IT Trends2 minutes readAug 18th, 2010

Does social computing, like other technologies, follow a defined life cycle in the enterprise?

I think so, and recently wrote on the subject in an article I contributed to ComputerWorld. The gist of the article is that social computing has both a technology adoption life cycle and a technology adaptation life cycle.

A technology adoption life cycle looks at how the market overall adopts a given technology and the spectrum of individual adopters. That spectrum ranges from pioneers and early adopters, to mainstream adopters, to laggards.

On the other hand, a technology adaptation life cycle considers how a single enterprise adapts an emerging technology in its business and the various phases of that process. That technology adaptation life cycle is the subject of my article.

I believe there are four phases of technology adaptation within an enterprise. As each organization has its own personality and culture, it will go through those phases at different speeds and sometimes be in different phases in different areas of the same organization.

  • In the first phase, an organization uses off-the-shelf social computing solutions such as Facebook and Twitter to better connect with customers. There’s little adaptation of the platforms involved.
  • In the second phase, an enterprise adopts and deploys a full suite of social software strategically across the organization. The social computing tool has moved up the ladder in value.
  • In the third phase, an enterprise enhances existing applications and processes by integrating with social computing tools. The level of sophistication and value has risen yet another notch.
  • In the fourth phase, mature, pervasive social computing tools have embedded capabilities in the organization’s overall enterprise applications. This is the highest level of technology adaptation.

Read the full article at ComputerWorld. And please send comments.