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Summary:

Facebook is easy to use, as well as being a robust tool. Grandparents can pick up enough to browse pictures of their grandchildren in a matter of minutes, while teenagers manage their entire social lives from the site. So why isn’t enterprise software more like Facebook?

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Facebook is easy to use, as well as being a robust tool. Grandparents can pick up enough to browse pictures of their grandchildren in a matter of minutes, while teenagers can manage their entire social lives from the site. Furthermore, Facebook is free. So why isn’t enterprise software more like Facebook?

It’s a question that Kraig Swensrud, senior vice president of product marketing at Salesforce.com, has been pondering. “It’s a good question and similar to many questions we’ve been asking since Salesforce.com was founded – why isn’t enterprise software taking cues from the consumer web? Today, companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have transformed the way people communicate and collaborate, globally. The same concepts that serve as the basis of the social networking, including user profiles, status updates, file sharing, and real-time feeds, can now be applied privately and securely in the enterprise. Social collaboration, along with cloud computing and mobile, are three major trends sweeping through today’s enterprise.” He notes, “Enterprises have already taken note of the success of social networking sites like Facebook and are actively developing strategies for Facebook-style social collaboration within the workplace.”

Salesforce.com has taken steps to learn from those sites that users most prefer to spend time on; tools like Chatter show that it is possible to make work tools that appealing to users.

Part of the problem may lie with how businesses tend to adopt new tools. The ease with which information can be shared on a site like Facebook can run counter to many organizations’ internal cultures. Swensrud points out, “When adopting enterprise social apps, the mindset of a company must change from being rigidly hierarchical and siloed towards being more open, flat and transparent. Enterprise social collaboration also must be built atop, and integrated, with existing business processes and applications, empowering employees to collaborate around business documents (e.g. a sales presentation), business data (e.g. a marketing campaign) and processes (e.g. order processing). Companies now have the ability to change the way their employees work.”

When you consider how much time and how many resources go into keeping collaboration tools up to date across an organization, taking cues from a site that has convinced hundreds of millions of users to update their profiles every chance that they get to log in simply makes sense.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Franco Bouly

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  1. Easy answer: Most companies wouldn’t use it, just like most companies don’t put their stuff in the cloud.

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  2. The argument of this article is completely irrelevent, given that social enterprise platform development is well underway.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_social_software

    My current enterprise collaboration tool of choice is SAP StreamWork http://www.sapstreamwork.com/

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    1. LOL!! SAP!!! LOL!

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  3. Whyaskenterprisewhy Monday, December 20, 2010

    Enterprise software solves real problems while Facebook is a toy for dipshits.

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  4. Enterprise software will never look like Facebook. With Facebook one can look at people status updates, photos etc. With enterprise software on might need access to many thousasds or millions of customers records/transactions/contact details etc… manage calls, provide integration with CTI and IVR solutions to route incoming calls to geographically dispersed call centers, manage customer tickets, campaign management and marketing, introduce high volume cross channel call centers, manage the sales force of 100′s of 1000′s of sales agents (inclusing partners, branches, agencies etc), manage stock for millions of products, manage manufacturing cycles, product distribution, product recalls, customer relationship management, sales order processing, real time service messaging etc. I could go on for a long time.
    In point your question is Naive on a number of level.

    Try doing any of that with an enterprise to a ‘status update’ button.

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  5. Great Article. Facebook is a very interesting “beast”. we use a product (BCN) from a company (www.dresoftware.com)and they have a lay out similiar to facebook. The major issue is that all of these platforms have to change to make sure it is easy to incorporate them into their existing business processes. The business collaboration network (BCN) focuses on Sales and Marketing efforts so it is great to use with our clients and prospects. You should try them out and you will see what I mean when I say you need to incorporat the technology into your existing business processes.

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  6. Enterprise software will certainly absorb some of the genes of consumer software. It is to no small extent due to the web 2.0 consumer market success that SaaS has become so popular in the business market. The benefits of social networking in businesses however is yet to be proved. It encourages a stream of low volume messages. Ideal for discussions maybe. But businesses require collaboration on well structured, high volume content. Social networking will have to adapt itself further for businesses. It is unlikely to work as is.

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