Last year witnessed some real progress being made in the social business sector and this year promises more of the same.
I have been part of the social business landscape — more specifically, the social enterprise software market — since 2004. As a pioneer in this space, I have witnessed massive changes. It's time to look back at some of the changes I predicted for 2012 and look forward to what's to come in 2013.
For 2012, I compiled a list of what I predicted would happen in social business for the next 12 months and there were a number of predictions that proved to be true. Here’s a quick recap:
Social is the new normal
At the beginning of last year I predicted that social would be the real driver behind how people go beyond just finding information. 2012 proved this to be true. Over the course of the last 12 months, we saw more aggressive combinations of enterprise search plus social, and sufficient validation that social has become the new normal for how we make day-to-day decisions in our personal lives and in business.
Welcoming the social platform (in the cloud)
In 2012, I forecasted that buyers would be looking for best-of-breed social platforms, not apps. Social platforms provide the open APIs and extensibility points to integrate with a company’s existing IT investments, rather than replace them. The beauty of this is that the social platform can be 100 percent delivered in an on-demand model/through the cloud — this is something that I expect to continue to see an increase of in 2013.
It’s all about the (big) data and the consumerization of analytics
I predicted that as organizations began to deploy social applications, they would quickly find out that the real value isn't in the tools and technologies, but in the data. And in 2012, with more information available to us than ever before, businesses began to demand that a social platform act as the organization's data hub (and I believe that you will continue to see an increase in this demand in 2013, as highlighted below in my 2013 predictions).
What's to Come in 2013
Overall, I’m very pleased to look back over 2012 and see the progress that has been made in the market. So, with the new year beginning, here are the five major predictions that I see in store for social business in 2013.
The big shift: Businesses will continue to shift investments away from Facebook and back to on-domain communities
In 2013, businesses that had previously moved marketing funds away from their traditional dot-com "web presence" towards Facebook will reverse that trend. Research from Forrester Research and other leading analyst firms continues to validate the need for organizations to invest in their own websites and community experiences.
Why? Consumers have different expectations and behaviors in consumer social media and branded communities.
Of course businesses will continue to invest in Facebook and other consumer social media, but mainly for the purpose of maintaining a presence. While Facebook still has importance in the consumer "channel" most interactions with Facebook are on a personal level, and individuals are starting to clearly separate business/transaction-related activities and their personal activities.
Social will become more deeply embedded in how we work versus a destination that we visit
This is becoming most apparent on the consumer side today, but businesses will also quickly follow suit internally.
I believe that social isn't a destination, but rather a set of experiences. Meaning, social experiences need to be present within existing work streams from traditional document management systems, such as SharePoint, to existing applications like email. Social is the glue that enables employees to collaborate through a variety of different technologies (email, web based forums, blogs, etc.).
For many of the large software vendors, this is the antithesis of what they want to see happen. I expect we’ll see additional acquisitions in the market, as traditional portal/collaboration businesses look to lock-in their customer base through a social offering.
A challenge for social vendors is that unlike traditional vertical software systems, such as CRM or CMS, social tends to layer itself horizontally, touching multiple systems. It will be interesting to watch over the coming year how social capabilities are going to continue to be made available.