The Road to Social Business

By Babar Bhatti on April 14, 2012

OpenSocial and Embedded Experiences will make it easy for Enterprises to Adopt and Leverage Social Insights

Despite the buzz about social media and its adoption by brands, there still remain a number of obstacles to wider use of social technologies by knowledge workers within enterprises.

For instance, here are a few observations about how social intelligence products are being used today by enterprises:

a) Marketers and communicators are first adopters of social media and tend to ‘own’ social media policies, access to information and products (e.g. through the agencies) etc – other business groups such as customer service, R&D, HR are next in line.

b) Social products/tools tend to be specialized, access may be limited because of corporate silos, cost or both

c) The products require effort to setup, optimize, customize and personalize

d) Even if one has the access and the product has been configured, it is hard to find the time to login to the social intelligence product and navigate through it to observe what’s going on there and to make sense out of all that information

The reality is that social media listening and intelligence is a separate function, not yet a mainstream enterprise capability. Today’s enterprises realize that getting this real-time source of information to their knowledge workers is very important but they haven’t figured out a good solution, given all the challenges that we listed above.

There’s hope.

Imagine if technologies and process allowed a user within an enterprise to get access to social media intelligence without having to a) use a separate login b) leave their daily work activities c) open a separate window and navigate through a maze of pages in a third party application.

Opensocial, Activity Streams and Embedded Experiences make that happen.

MutualMind collaborated with IBM to create a solution where social media intelligence was integrated into enterprise products such as IBM Connections and Lotus Notes. The key goals of this work were:

  1. Single sign-on: no need for user to separately login to third party social media product. The access permissions are established based on enterprise profile.
  2. Push versus Pull: relevant and customized information is pushed to user’s workflow, whether its an activity stream item or email
  3. Provided Embedded Experience such that the user can view the relevant, dynamic and interactive information within their application without having to go to a different application
  4. This approach offers many benefits – users save time and effort, the information is pushed with the context to the right user and users can interact with that information right there.

Below is an example of sharing a post from MutualMind and sending it to a colleague via Lotus Notes, where it appears as an email message with stats about that post (e.g. the number of times that post was shared on Twitter), snapshot of user’s profile, and dynamic content related to the keyword which matched the post and additional meta-information such as the location. The embedded experience also allows user to take action on this post right there in the email body.

Similarly this content can also be shared via Activity Streams in IBM Connections where a social gadget provides the information and the embedded experience. The concept is powerful and changes the way information is consumed today by enterprise workforce.

We believe that this is the beginning of a new era of intelligent enterprise where information from outside the organization, such as customer feedback on a new product, is leveraged to enrich the business. These set of technologies makes it possible to blend the tacit knowledge and expertise within the enterprise with feedback and insights from the outside world.

In near future, social gadgets and enterprise activity streams will become commonplace and offer more flexibility and better user experience. Brand managers, product managers, customer service professionals, researchers and other specialized roles will be in a much better position to control what information do they get and use it effectively and efficiently.

Note: This post originally appeared at Social Business News on March 23, 2012