It’s not about the software… but…

May 28, 2009
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21563104  I was walking back from the Post Office this afternoon (it’s one of those clear, amazing San Francisco days, I do love it here!) and thinking about a conversation that I had earlier today about e2.0 / social web.

I often find myself pushing the idea that the real change in business that I believe has begun because of the emergence of the social web and the subsequent changes in behavior are not about technology or software but instead are about fundamental business cultural and process change. Because of the need to focus on culture and shifting enterprise interaction systems I believe it is necessary to apply all the pressure we can to make businesses understand that just rolling out social tools will not create the necessary change and ultimately will fail.

I won’t drag out that soap box again in this post though, because this post is not about that at all. OK, admission, I’m a software geek. I can’t help it; that’s just in my nature. I love the SW business, I love what the SW creates and allows you to do… well, you get the point.  

So today I was talking about some new SW that Rightnow just launched that incorporates e2.0 functionality when it hit me


21563104  I was walking back from the Post Office this afternoon (it’s one of those clear, amazing San Francisco days, I do love it here!) and thinking about a conversation that I had earlier today about e2.0 / social web.

I often find myself pushing the idea that the real change in business that I believe has begun because of the emergence of the social web and the subsequent changes in behavior are not about technology or software but instead are about fundamental business cultural and process change. Because of the need to focus on culture and shifting enterprise interaction systems I believe it is necessary to apply all the pressure we can to make businesses understand that just rolling out social tools will not create the necessary change and ultimately will fail.

I won’t drag out that soap box again in this post though, because this post is not about that at all. OK, admission, I’m a software geek. I can’t help it; that’s just in my nature. I love the SW business, I love what the SW creates and allows you to do… well, you get the point.  

So today I was talking about some new SW that Rightnow just launched that incorporates e2.0 functionality when it hit me that we need to talk about the SW and what its role is in this social transformation. While culture, behavior and process have to change to enable the social enterprise to emerge we also need to develop and deploy technology as the backbone for these initiatives.

I read a great post today on the FASTforward Blog by Paula Thornton titled “Enterprise 2.0 Isn’t a Checklist“. In that post, among other things Paula talks about why IT is really one of the only choices to “own” e2.0 initiatives, even though the initiatives themselves are in may ways the antithesis of the traditional IT project (I’d encourage you to read this one, lot’s of good info in it). I think she’s correct, and in fact a big part of the culture shift will hit the IT organization as they learn how to successfully implement e2.0 instead of traditional IT SW projects.

But in the end we get back to the technology, so the question is, what’s the role of the SW / technology in e2.0? I believe that as SW vendors we have to provide SW tools that allow e2.0 to scale. Currently, we’re experimenting with Web 2.0 tools and applying them to great result in many business situations but this has some upper limit in my opinion. Without true enterprise scale, how far can we push these initiatives?

Think about one of the classic examples that we often use, JetBlue and Twitter. Some customer service rep at JetBlue gets the idea to monitor Twitter for comments about JetBlue and respond to customers there, great. The customer experience is awesome and the customer finds themselves getting what they need “when, where and how” they want it.

But how does it scale? Currently (or at least the last time I heard the number) JetBlue has over 10 agents monitoring Twitter full time… and that number has to go up. But what if JetBlue had a CRM system with a customer service module that scanned Twitter for “JetBlue” mentions and popped those Tweets up for the customer service reps to determine proper action (or even better automated some types of actions while passing on higher priority tweets to CSR’s for action)? Now that’s enterprise social CRM!

That’s what I mean by scale through enterprise class e2.0 SW. We’re starting to see tools like this emerge (Rightnow’s announcement today included some social CRM functions for example) but we have quite a ways to go before we have all the SW tools we need to fuel enterprise class social projects… a significant opportunity for SW vendors to jump ahead of the competition if they are first to market with the right tools.

 

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