Making 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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