October 18, 2011

Social Platforms Will Make Enterprise Software More Useful

Listening to Marc Benioff at Web 2.0, I latched onto three things he shared with us:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 17:  Salesforce CE...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
  • Facebook is becoming a vision of what the consumer operating system is,
  • Social media is an acceleration,
  • Internet of things concept.
I think as a product designer and creator there is something to be said about the points Marc Benioff is making. To create the enterprise software of tomorrow, the biggest trend these days to be aware of is the 'consumerization' of the enterprise.  This is driving the need for better design back into the enterprise. Through better design, a better user experience will encompass what works from the consumer side of things and the new interaction metaphors the consumer is driving. 

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase"Facebook is becoming a vision of what the consumer operating system is"

Not to put words in his mouth, but he really is saying Facebook is the model of interaction and use cases that our customers' customer expects to see now. The users of our enterprise software now are growing up in an FB world - not a Frederic Boulanger world, but a Facebook one! Facebook for all its good and bad is setting the bar on how things get done. Whether it's how information is discovered and shared, or how we interact with it, Facebook is the only game in town. 
To create the interactions of tomorrow in our business software, we have to be taking into account the new expectations of the users regarding the interactions and the experience they unknowingly have. They are the Facebook models of interactions.

"Social media is an acceleration"

Twitter + SummizeImage by Laughing Squid via FlickrEnterprise software is about enabling quicker decisions for an organization. Information discovery is a big part of social media. The information architecture of the products of tomorrow are set to use some of the social networks concepts because they accelerate propagation of information that is likely to matter with you. There is a perfect match in principle for social and enterprise through 'acceleration of decisions'.

"Mobile, Social and cloud'" vs "Internet of things"

I'm mashing two things I heard yesterday here. Arab Spring was supported by 'Mobile, Social and cloud', this is why we saw Thank you Facebook and Thank you Twitter all over the place in Cairo and other cities in the Middle East. Additionally, in the not so distant future there are going to be many more devices than we can think of right now. 

The model to have in our heads is - if 'it' consumes energy it will be connected to the internet. This means all sorts of things will be helping us make decisions on data received from the cloud wherever we are and with the ability to share those experiences and engage. 

Example: I'm driving my car and it slips on a patch of ice; my car will then push that information up into the cloud and all cars following me will be notified of that patch of ice and will help their driver not get into an accident. 

The Mobile, Social and cloud and the internet of things, will further accelerate the enterprise. Adapting more quickly, avoiding obstacles and making more decisions are a direct benefit for those who embrace it. It's only starting - buckle up.

Wrapping Up

Our new software products in the enterprise have much to gain to internalize the models of social networks. The models are there and well understood by the users, so less training and more engagement are highly likely. The impact is already seen and known in the consumer space; information propagation through social network is fast and no enterprise out there wants to go slow.  Decision making and adapting to an ever changing landscape are optimal with social network. 

So a couple of questions for your next release to embark on the enterprise social software:
  • How can the social software like Facebook and Twitter interaction metaphors be applied to your software? 
  • How can the social network platform help your users accelerate decision making and become more agile?


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