Chris Howard, Gartner Managing VP was recently quoted as saying, "Organizations need to absorb the ways that their employees and consumers want to work and build systems to support them." He was referring to social enterprise solutions. I agree with Chris. People today want a means to collaborate on ideas and to help make decisions. They want to participate and to make things happen. Distance, however, is an issue. That is why places like Silicon Valley seem to always attract a lot of innovation. It is due to people being together there and able to meet up at a physical location, exchange ideas and organize. The problem is many of us that want to be a part of these discussions are not in these geographies.
I want to pause a moment and introduce to you the concept of time-space compression. Time-space compression often occurs as a result of technologies that seem to accelerate speed and reduce distances. Here are some examples:
- Communications (telegraph, telephone, fax machines, Internet, mobile)
- Transportation (wheeled carts, rail, cars, trains, jets, rockets)
- Business (online marketing, online sales, globalization, SFA, Mobile CRM, Mobile BI, Mobile Payments, Mobile Banking)
Social enterprise collaboration solutions like SAP's JAM, Jive, Yammer and Chatter also help with time-space compression. They are able to accelerate the amount of information and ide
a exchanges, and reduce the effective distance (geographic obstacles) between participants. This often increases the speed of decision making and innovation.
It is these kinds of soft ROIs that are so hard to document, but can lead to incredible productivity gains. A couple of months ago I interviewed SAP's CIO Oliver Bussman. I asked Oliver about social collaboration solutions at SAP and where he could point to ROIs. He told me about the merits of reading about events using collaboration technology as opposed to email threads. He said reading a discussion on a collaboration platform enables you to see the whole discussion, while email threads only provide a limited view of the participant's opinions and exchanges. Why? You are not always included in every email thread (thank goodness!). The point is, there are better technology platforms (social enterprise collaboration) that can provide more efficient ways of sharing information among groups of people.
Aberdeen Group in the report "Mobility in ERP 2011" says the following, "Getting the right information, to the right people, so they can make the right decisions is the driving force behind mobilizing the workforce." I would add, that in addition to mobilizing the workforce, providing them with social enterprise collaboration platforms that also compress time and space is one of the next logical steps to increasing productivity.
Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for SMAC, Cognizant
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.
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