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Social Software is Not About Technology

        posted by , June 16, 2011

Almost every corporate intranet has it — social software that sits idle with few users and little content.

It is the forum with one test post, the microblog with no users, the wiki with long stale content — many companies are unsuccessful introducing social applications.


Corporate applications tend to be complex. From office productivity packages to ERP tools — corporate applications are rarely simple. However, in the realm of social software simplicity is key.

Just look at the simplicity of early social software success stories such as Twitter, Wikipedia and Facebook. Many bricks-and-mortar companies are simple-impaired and tend to select products with bells and whistles.

Dude, It's about the users

Companies are adept at implementing three kinds of software:

- automation / self service
- decision support
- end user productivity tools

Social software is a new paradym that has the potential to enhance communication, drive marketing, build knowledge and facilitate processes.

The value of social software is directly proportional to user adoption. Companies tend to under estimate user adoption challenges. Social software is a catch-22 — users will only adopt it if it is popular already.

Most companies take a build-it-and-they-will-come approach to social software — deploying social tools to the corporate intranet and waiting for the users and content to roll in. This approach almost never works.

If you can't beat them: join them

One route around the user adoption problem is to integrate with services that are already popular.

Integration with business processes

Another way to increase the adoption rate of social applications is to make it part of people's job.

The integration of automation and social tools has significant unrealized potential — social CRM and ERP are two examples of the convergence of enterprise automation and social applications.

Companies have more success when social functionality is tightly integrated with enterprise applications because it solves the user adoption issue.

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