Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, the well-known CRM and cloud computing company — and now soon-to-be social software vendor — wrote a guest post on TechCrunch late last week making the case for “why
enterprise software should take its cues from Facebook and become more social.”
It’s a premise that’s been offered up countless times since Web 2.0 became a widespread trend and it will probably be invoked many more times. Yet the urgency is becoming more pronounced as the latest social
tools appear seemingly everywhere in both our personal and work lives, often excepting of course our all-too-often staid corporate intranets. “Just ask any beleaguered CIO” about the growing internal demand for
social software lamented CIO.com recently. Readers of this blog won’t be too surprised to discover my general
agreement with Benioff’s position. But there will undoubtedly be a large contingent of those involved in enterprise IT today that will ask, “So what?” Will making enterprise applications more social really make major difference to enterprises in a meaningful way? Does adding social features to business software truly make “people more productive and businesses more competitive“, to quote Benioff? If the answers are in the affirmative though, then these are indeed important questions.
In these times of economic uncertainty and global transformation, I would put forth that it’s worth determining ground truth about one of the most significant generational changes of our time, social computing. In fact, we are currently witnessing a major revolution in communications on many fronts today including 1) mass simultaneity, 2) potent next-generation mobile platforms, and 3) pervasive rich media. Added to this, and not the least of these developments, is that today’s social computing approaches are fundamentally changing the way we work, including even why we work at all. Ultimately any determination if there is an enterprise “Facebook
imperative” will matter because our businesses depend upon software in all its countless forms in a thousand different ways in order to function at all. Besides being critical to day-to-day operation of business, software itself is in the midst of major transition due to far more than just social media. Cloud computing, green technology, the continuing impact of open source, and the rapidly rising centrality of mobile computing platforms are just some of larger issues that are being felt acutely in the industry right now.
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