Is collaboration the solution for companies during this tough economic period?  AIIM and author Geoffrey Moore say yes, but do you agree? What does the future of social business really look like? 

According to a report by AIIM chair Lynn Frass and author Geoffrey Moore, social business is going to be a huge area of investment for economic recovery of organizations. Why? To quickly enhance the ability of knowledge workers when collaborating together in hopes to unlock revenue potential and to save costs.  

Social Business Systems Are Getting a Lot of Attention

According to Moore

"We have spent the past several decades of IT investment focused on deploying 'systems of record.'  These systems accomplished two important things. First, they centralized, standardized, and automated business transactions on a global basis, thereby better enabling world trade. Second, they gave top management a global view of the state of the business, thereby better enabling global business management.

While I agree with Moore that social business systems are going to become crucial, we need to remember all the failures (and yes the successes) from prior implementations of traditional systems.

Michael Krigsman, for example, has an entire column devoted to highlighting CRM failures, and there are a lot of them. Social business systems are important but success isn't going to come from a system, it’s going to come from how those systems are implemented, the strategies that support those systems, the processes that are built around those systems and the culture of change management issues that most organizations are going to have to go through. In short, the success is going to come from people and yes, technology is going to help.

If you ask any company about how well their business transactions and information resources are standardized and automated on a global level, or how well top management sees the global state of business, chances are you’re not always going to get a, “yeah, things are great,” response.

Organizations are always adapting and changing to evolving landscapes and consumer demands and expectations. It’s unreasonable to think that a “perfect” enterprise will exist, at least in the near future. If you look at the numbers from a report on employee engagement put out in Europe, you’ll see that the numbers aren’t all that aggressive, at least not for the next few years.  

I believe the key point of the report was to highlight how consumer IT is impacting (and will impact) enterprise IT.  The following visual taken from the report sums up enterprise computing as shifting from systems of record to systems of engagement.


The argument is that enterprise organizations are quite adept at systems of record. Personally I don't think that's the case and it's not what I have seen from many of the enterprise organizations I have been speaking with. The main reason is the lack of social data and social customer integration in existing enterprise systems. How is it possible to have a single source of truth without integrating all customer data (social, transactional, history, etc)?  

Social Business is Transforming Customer Engagement

According to AIIM Chair Lynn Fraas

Social Business Systems provide a means for organizations to build on their investment in content management solutions. Increasingly, Systems of Record have become a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite for business success. In the future, organizations will differentiate themselves based on how well they deploy Social Business technologies to improve organizational flexibility and better engage customers.

These Social Business technologies are transforming customer engagement through such consumer facing tools as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. They are simultaneously creating new models of employee and partner collaboration, cooperation and conversation within organizations -- models that will eventually replace e-mail as the primary means of internal collaboration."

Here we see how the content management model is going to undergo the same shift as enterprise computing, moving from systems of record to systems of engagement.


Although both of the enterprise computing and content management pieces show the future as systems of engagement, it really sounds like what we're dealing here is Enterprise 2.0 initiatives. While what was outlined in the AIIM report is largely a technological shift, I think the bigger issue we're going to have to address is the culture and people shift.

None of the above changes are going to happen unless we start from the people that are going to be making and implementing these changes. A large piece of any type of system of engagement is the element of collaboration, again a key tenet for Enterprise 2.0.

I have included some predictions that Gartner has released that coincide with the opinions of Fraas. Not all of them are specifically relevant to this quote, but I included them because they are still worth mentioning.   

  • By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users. 
  • By 2012, over 50 percent of enterprises will use activity streams that include microblogging, but stand-alone enterprise microblogging will have less than 5 percent penetration. 
  • Through 2012, over 70 percent of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail. 
  • Within five years, 70 percent of collaboration and communications applications designed on PCs will be modeled after user experience lessons from smartphone collaboration applications. 
  • Through 2015, only 25 percent of enterprises will routinely utilize social network analysis to improve performance and productivity.

This report is focused on the evolution of systems of record (enterprise cms, records management) and systems of engagement (social computing solutions) and what this evolution means for organizations. The PDF powerpoint for the first report can be found here, and there are plenty of other good pieces of information there that are worth exploring.  

A second report, due out in a few weeks, is going to lay out a 5 year roadmap for IT and business executives.