Bryant Harland- Technology Analyst at Mintel

Bryant Harland- Technology Analyst at Mintel | September 29, 2014 |


The Evolution of the Social Enterprise: How Data Will Rule Business Communications

The Evolution of the Social Enterprise: How Data Will Rule Business Communications The social tools that successfully translate qualities of intuitiveness, ease of use, and a user-driven framework into a business context are likely the ones that will push enterprise social software forward.

The social tools that successfully translate qualities of intuitiveness, ease of use, and a user-driven framework into a business context are likely the ones that will push enterprise social software forward.

Although the outlook for enterprise social software is positive, with a projected 19.4% CAGR from 2013 to 2018, there is clearly something missing that keeps social collaboration and similar tools from achieving their potential. According to Gartner, which predicts 80% of social business efforts will not achieve intended benefits through 2015, the problem is that businesses are focusing too much on technology.

That is a valid point. As the namesake implies, successfully deploying social tools is largely about the social framework in which they are implemented. Encouraging employees to use any technology effectively requires strong support from managers and other leaders. This is especially true for new technology that requires a change from existing processes. However, the technical aspects of social software are equally critical.

Collaboration tools provide a good example of this challenge. It's not that most business leaders and employees can't recognize inefficiencies in their existing practices. It's that alternatives are unfamiliar, and, in many cases, require too much effort to learn.

Traditional social sites like Facebook gain traction well because they are user-driven. They stimulate discussions and have the capacity to maintain connections with both casual and professional interactions. They are intuitive, and effectively serve as hubs of information and communication.

Consumer-grade social sites are so good at encouraging user buy-in that a 2013 study from Avanade found 74% of respondents used Facebook for enterprise collaboration, more than the share who used Microsoft Sharepoint, IBM Open Connections and Salesforce Chatter. However, Avanade's research also found that enterprise-centric tools benefitted from considerable gains when considering the platforms business leaders expected to deploy within the next 12 months, suggesting that 2014 and the coming years will be a major test for the technology.

Bringing Social to the Enterprise
The social tools that successfully translate the aforementioned qualities – intuitiveness, ease of use and a user-driven framework - into a business context are likely the ones that will push enterprise social software forward. The leading tools are already starting to do this – IBM Connections and Salesforce Chatter offer interfaces that look and feel similar to the traditional social media news feed. They've also streamlined the processes for sharing files and implemented internal search functions to help employees connect and communicate better, but there's still a crucial component missing: integration.

Just as consumer social sites serve as central hubs to fulfill a range of needs and activities, enterprise social software has to be able to be a central platform from which to do work and communicate with stakeholders throughout an organization. As Gartner has advised, part of addressing the issue of integration will be up to business leaders to encourage and incorporate the use of these tools into everyday processes.

However, this can't be achieved without making those processes seamless from a technical standpoint. Users can move files to Dropbox outside of the software's interface, and consumers can share the bulk of Web content on Facebook with the click of a button – it needs to be equally easy to upload and share files within enterprise collaboration software.

In the enterprise, this integration can go beyond software. If social tools really are to be a hub of workplace activity, then they must also be able to work alongside other forms of communication, including email and phone systems. This is likely part of Cisco's vision for its products, given the company's partnership with enterprise collaboration company Jive, announced in May 2014.

Data: The Next Frontier for Enterprise Social
The lion's share of marketing material for social platforms focuses on the advanced productivity benefits of social software – heaven forbid an organization uses something as archaic as email to share files! It is true that email does not scale as well as more robust document sharing platforms; it's also true that social adds value by encouraging more natural status updates and discussions around a given project.

Many business leaders already recognize the benefits of transitioning to a better platform. As Forrester's January 2014 The Business Value of Social Content states, 60% of social technology decision makers say that integrated collaboration solutions could drive better business results.

But productivity is only part of that value. Facebook is not the mega business it is solely because it effectively brings people together and creates seamless experiences. It also collects and uses vast amounts of data, both in advertising efforts and in improving how it interacts with consumers and marketers. This is why the future of enterprise social platforms will be largely about data, and some companies are already betting on this.

In July 2014, enterprise analytics firm Mattersight filed a patent covering its behavioral analytics technology, which can be used for email, Web and social media content. The company's existing products use algorithms to analyze text, phone calls and other interactions to improve relationships between customers and employees. Mattersight's full vision is clear: The ability to bring together data from every communication channel and thus gain a better understanding of customers through their interactions with businesses.

That is only one vision of what a unified hub of communication data might provide. It's doubtful that even Facebook's leaders could have initially visualized how the company's library of user behaviors would eventually be used. For example, a 2013 Cambridge University study found a correlation between liking the Facebook page for "curly fries" and high IQ. Although this had little to do with curly fries, it exemplifies the value of connecting all that information – it will allow anyone who looks through the right lens to see formerly unknown relationships.

Of course, a number of technologies matured to make studies like that possible. Algorithms became smarter, computing systems became more powerful and people became infinitely more connected. However, social is and will continue to be a key component of that kind of insight because few other platforms have managed to pull together the necessary volume of behavioral data.

Bryant Harland has been writing in the technology sector for more than five years, initially as a content marketer for several leaders in the IT security and cloud storage industries. He serves as a Technology Analyst for market research firm Mintel, where he covers a wide range of technology purchasing and usage trends. The views expressed by the author in this article are the author's alone and do not represent the views of Mintel.


April 25, 2018

Yesterdays simple phone call to a contact center or business location is rapidly becoming todays interactive session, spanning multiple channels and devices. If you need to know how Omnichannel can

March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.