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2013 Predictions: The Changing Needs of the Mobile, Social Business

"I confess that in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years…Ever since, I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions."  — Wilbur Wright, 1908

With none of Wilbur Wright’s humility, here are my predictions for some significant business developments in 2013.

Microsoft’s acquisition of the Yammer will be a game changer in the enterprise social space. 

Even though Microsoft’s integration plans are not yet clear, it is certain that Yammer social capabilities will be integrated into Office, making it a compelling offering for many organizations. Furthermore, Microsoft’s low price point for Yammer will force competitors to react or disappear.

Mobile social business becomes real for the mainstream business worker in 2013.

According to Forrester Research, 28 percent of workers already use three different devices for work. And that number will surely grow significantly in 2013. Interestingly, a big driver for mobile is the ability to work inside the office but away from the desk, for example in meetings and in other buildings. This need to stay connected while on the move will fuel the growth in the use of mobile social technologies, in the office and at home.

On a related note, the explosion of tablet sales will force IT departments to deal with the reality of the iPad at work

by extending smartphone BYOD programs to the tablet. Apple has already shipped 100 million iPads, and another 100 million are projected to be sold in 2013. According to Forrester Research, the greatest needs for the tablet at work are to access business applications and to access team document sharing applications (like SharePoint). Forget about Facebook and Twitter, the focus will be on enterprise applications to do real work.

As "mobile social" catches on through BYOD programs, organizations will realize the need to provide consistent user experiences to business applications across all the devices used by workers, both in the office and on the road. This need is driven by the fact that changing user behavior is the biggest impediment to the adoption of new technology. While early adopters may tolerate inconsistent user experiences to gain the benefits of ubiquitous social connectivity, mainstream users need easy and consistent user experiences to be productive. Organizations that provide a simple, consistent user experience will have a significant competitive advantage.

A new player will emerge in enterprise social.

In addition to SharePoint, IBM Connections, and to some degree Jive, another player will emerge to compete, first in niche markets and then in more broader markets.

Privacy concerns about information stored on BYOD devices will gain higher profile in 2013.

Employees who get burned by having personal information wiped from their "personal" devices by employers will start to understand the complexity of BYOD.

Enterprise activity streams will start to emerge as another viable enterprise communication modality.

The initial euphoria about getting Twitter-like important updates from enterprise applications will be inevitably followed by the familiar frustration of information overload and context switching, as each platform vendor provides a disparate stream of their own activities.

Information overload will continue to get worse

as we will have even more places to go to, on more devices, to get important business information. The well-known effect of stress caused by context switching and multitasking will get worse before it gets better.

Social analytics inside the enterprise will start to gain visibility.

The ability for organizations to understand communications patterns among employees will help them better analyze enterprise social initiatives. Rather than relying upon anecdotes, companies will be able to measure social interactions. By correlating social activity to related business results, organizations will be able, for the first time to understand the ROI of social and collaboration initiatives. But these are still early days and best practices are still a ways off.

As organizations begin to realize the importance of accurate classification of information, pragmatic knowledge and records management projects emerge in large numbers. Pervasive use of tags and metadata to classify business artifacts is a key requirement for these projects to succeed and organizations are starting to get it. Taxonomy best practices will start to emerge to support the bootstrapping of these initiatives. We will likely see some practical taxonomy automation tools in 2013.

"Context" and advanced search methodologies become business enablers.

As the haystack of information gets infinitely bigger, finding the appropriate data needle becomes much more difficult. For knowledge management and records management project to succeed, effective ways to find information are needed. Searching within a given ‘context,’ like a geographic location, specific project, or business unit will simplify the search for information, but automating the definition of context will still take several years.

These are my predictions for 2013. What do you think?

Editor's Note: Interested in reading more of David's thoughts on the evolution of the social enterprise? Try Evolution vs. Revolution in Social Business

About the Author

David Lavenda is VP Marketing and Product Strategy at harmon.ie. He is a technology expert blogger for Fast Company. He is also pursuing advanced studies in STS (Science, Technology and Society) focusing on the research of online behaviors. He can be reached at Twitter @dlavenda.

 
 
 
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