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Is Social Business Ready to Grow Up?

According to Forrester, 57% of enterprises are making some investment in enterprise social in 2011.

The rise of social business (within both consumer and enterprise segments) was front and center at Dreamforce 2011.   At this year's conference, Salesforce CEO Mark Benihoff  set the stage for his drive to become the leading social enterprise player.  As Mark said at Dreamforce, “It’s a social revolution...and it’s about enterprise."  Unlike many of the industry's niche players Yammer, Socialcast (which was bought by VMWare), MangoSpring, and SocialText to name but a few, Salesforce has vertically integrated its social tools, namely Chatter, into the salesforce automation workflow.

Simply put, no organization can become a social business unless its social strategy and tools are woven into that organization's underlying business processes and content, as Salesforce is attempting to do.  Otherwise, social is simply a nice-to-have tool rather than a must-have-platform and transformational opportunity.   Like Salesforce, Tibco Software understands the proper role for social tools as they have demonstrated with an integrated, middleware esque approach with Tibbr.  Given the fierce competition within the enterprise, Salesforce needs to continue to evolve its social vision.  Their "Enterprise Social Stack" (featured below) highlights the current path foward, and Benihoff and company are betting the future on an enterprise world of social business software and services. 

The Salesforce.com Social Enterprise Software Stack - Ozmosis Blog

Whether Salesforce accepts it or not, Jive Software has often been viewed as the market leader, especially considering their recent filing for an IPO.  To many, this act signaled a new level of maturity in the space.  If you look at Jive's S-1 filing you'll see some positive signs: 675 enterprise customers with a combined 15 million users.  However, Jive recorded a $30m loss for the first half of 2011 as they invest aggressively in growth. With the technology industry's biggest players (IBM, Cisco, EMC) jumping in with both feet, Salesforce and Jive face stiff competition.  

Dreamforce 2011 and Enterprise 2.0 showed us Jive no longer sits alone atop the social mountaintop.  IBM is moving itself and its clients well beyond social media into its version of "Social Business".  In a recent Fast Company article, they defined social business as "a new era of collaboration, insight sharing, and lead generation".  Ethan McCarty, IBM's senior manager of digital and social strategy, believes that a "social business needs to employ more collaborative digital work tools (well beyond email) that are asynchronous, enabling a geographically disperse team to do great work together".  

Well said Ethan.  As a former IBMer, I am proud to see Big Blue invest in the future of social business.  I am also waiting to see how EMC and Cisco will integrate EMC Documentum and Cisco Quad, bringing enterprise content management and enterprise collaboration together to create a new, yet to be named, solution.  Cisco also announced the acqusition of Versly, a small software vendor still in private beta that provides a way for users to collaborate at the document level inside Microsoft Office.  

What both actions represent is Cisco's belief, and our vision here at Ozmosis, that the future of social business lies within the intersection of content and social, what we call "Social Content Management".   By integrating social into the underlying workflow of a business, any organization, including hospitals and life science firms, can dramatically increase productivity and reduce cost. 

Based on these trends, "Is social business ready to grow up"?  Given the full court press and recent bluster in the industry, its fair to say IBM, Salesforce, Cisco, EMC, VMWare, and Tibco sure think so.  

At Ozmosis, we see social business at work every day.  While healthcare is traditionally slower to adopt innovative tools than other industries, there is a huge need to develop a more collaborative approach to delivering care...and social is all about collaboration.  So stay tuned for additional posts as we more closely examine the role and impact of Social Business and Social Content Management.  

As we look to transform a broken and cost riddled healthcare system, the lessons learned from early adopters (within healthcare and across other industries) will prove essential in ushering in a more social and collaborative healthcare delivery model.

Joel Selzer

CEO - Ozmosis, Inc

 

**UPDATE**

Well, that was fast....my post is already outdated thanks to Larry Ellison's announcement at OpenWorld.  Now we can count Oracle as yet another industry heavyweight in the emerging world of social business.

The Oracle Social Network will be part of the "Oracle Public Cloud" and compete head to head with Salesforce, IBM, TIBCO and Cisco/EMC to offer a vertically integrated collaboration platform.  Based on the information and screenshots shared so far, Oracle has integrated its social network with Oracle Fusion Applications so users can receive real-time information feeds from enterprise applications and collaborate around documents and updates.

Oracle Social Network

Oracle is a tad late to the party, but the prominence of their announcement at OpenWorld and Larry Ellison's deliberate snubbing of Salesforce.com and Mark Beinihoff clearly announces the arrival of "Social Business" on the world stage. While Oracle's vision seems clear, we need to reserve judgment until the Oracle Social Network actually launches.  Given the animosity and competitive energy between these rivals, I look forward to seeing how far they can push the product innovation cycle.



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