Last year was a big one for social business. This year is positioned to be even greater. Major players, such as IBM, who have invested in establishing a large presence in social business have done well. See for example our Complete Listing of IBM Connect 2013 Notes. AppFusions is pleased to be working with IBM and others in this space. Dion Hitchcliffe covered this past year in his useful post, Sizing up social business for 2012.
Dion notes that, “perhaps the most important development of the year was the maturation and accumulation of experience in how to make social business work in large enterprises.” I saw many examples of this at IBM Connect 2013. He goes on to summarize five major trends from 2012.
First there was the re-unification of social business. He notes that 2011 the realization emerged that social media must be connected to daily work to have real impact. I agree and wrote about it at the time (see for example, Putting Social Media to Work). However, 2012 revealed that enterprises had created numerous social silos that fragmented their efforts and employees. Dion went on to add that a growing body of evidence clearly shows that when social business environments had most connection between them, the measurable business outcomes were substantially higher. We cannot agree more. As we have written many times on this blog, application integration is a major foundation of social business success (see for example, The Business Value of Application Connectors).
A second trend is the addition of other major players into the space. While IBM has long made major bets here, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft have joined the field. As these vendors move into the space, integrating their various applications and those of their partners will become even more necessary. Third, the rise of interest in big data has found a natural home in social business. One of the benefits and challenges of the transparency offered by social business is the massive amounts of data automatically generated by its use. Those organizations that can turn the massive global conversations in social media into relevant insights will be the winners. Numerous software firms added social analytics and business intelligence features to their existing products, while a great many new startups received funding in this space.
A fourth trend in 2012 is the continued rise of mobile. Dion feels mobile hampered social business projects more than it helped them. He writes that accommodating mobile requirements was a distraction to social business efforts in progress and that enterprise mobile apps did not compare well to their consumer side counterparts. However, he projects that the situation will improve. Mobile is a natural for social business. Companies and vendors now have to get it right.
The fifth and last trend he discussed was merger of social business with customer experience. He writes that a “new view has arisen to merge and combine the traditional and social customer experiences into something more holistic, natural, and expected by today’s consumer.” Application integration is critical here to connect the various customer-facing apps with the back office systems of record to create a seamless experience for both the customer service agent and the customer.
A theme running through many of these trends is the need for integration to realize the benefits of social business. A significant foundation for these benefits is found through establishing connectivity between the rising number of new tools and the established ones. Our goal at AppFusions is to build ready-to-deploy, reasonably priced connectors to solve the most common Enterprise system-to-system data and process integration problems. In other words we ant to provide tools to make social business work.