Archive for the ‘Social Collaboration’ Category

What does the FaceBook IPO mean for social business?

$104 Billion in valuation, 16 billion raised in its IPO, we can’t help but gape at this phenomena of our age with open mouths.

With more than 900 million actively engaged users, it’s the largest community the world has ever known. Google search is not quite dead yet, but Facebook is where we spend our internet time – we discover, share, and connect like never before. And we spend a lot of internet time..

Facebook has no plans of slowing down at 900 million. Zuckerberg is likely eyeing at the 7 Billion odd global population. The mobile phone is how it now plans to enter our lives. The endless resources the IPO gives Facebook access to are probably going towards this.

Any marketer worth his salt wants to be on Facebook. If you are not where your consumers are, you are gone, finished, rendered irrelevant, nada. Moreover, if Facebook is where your customers are, maybe that’s where you want to be to deliver them service? So undoubtedly, the social phenomena of Facebook means everything to businesses.

But that’s not what social business is. Sure, it is part of social business, but not all of it.

Social business is the broader philosophy of using the social design of social media technology to break down all artificial barriers – those which exists inside the organization, as well as those between the business and its environment – prospects, customers, partners, and the larger market. Social business is more than Facebook, or even Twitter, or even Pinterest. It is about using the learnings of social media to alter the very design of organizations.

Being engaged in popular social media services like Facebook and interacting with the market is part of it – best described as social media marketing. But an equally important part is adapting it and making it work with business applications so that employees can share and connect and tap hidden synergies – that is social collaboration (that is the part HyperOffice focuses on).  Facebook is just not geared for social collaboration.

So the Facebook IPO mean for social business? A reminder – a reminder to pull up your socks and make Facebook an important part of your marketing strategy. But an equally important reminder to start using business focused social tools and get some of that free flowing sharing working for your businesses.

Google Plus for Business? 5 Reasons Why Google Plus is Not Social Collaboration

I can barely control my indignation when I read articles about Google Plus as a tool for “social collaboration”. These articles sometimes come from writers I respect. I guess we have a difference of opinion on this. Here are my reasons why I think Google Plus is not a tool for social collaboration (even remotely).

1. You can’t paste horns on a dog and call it a bull

The last I remember, social collaboration was supposed to be about learning from the design concepts of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, and adapting them to a business environment to spur productivity and collaboration. The key phrase here is “learn from design concepts and adapt them”. Google Plus is an out and out consumer tool in fierce competition with Facebook. Can anyone show me even a single change made to Google Plus in Google Apps to make it adaptable to business? Surely there is some difference in consumer and business needs.

2. Social collaboration is not about sharing cool videos and favorite recipes

Social collaboration in the enterprise is not about networking and sharing stuff for the heck of it. In fact it means nothing if it is not connected with company information and processes. Social collaboration should not be an end in itself but subordinate to getting the job done.

In fact, when connected with enterprise data – documents, tasks, schedules, and discussions – social tools become an incredible way to consume information, break organizational barriers and bring together people in a conversational yet productive environment.

Google Plus has no connectivity with other parts of the business. Even in Google Apps, it has no connectivity with other applications like Google docs, mail, calendars or tasks.  It might spur some light weight conversations and connections, but does not bring much business value.

3. Social collaboration is about combining open sharing with structure and policy control

The beauty of social collaboration is that it leverages the open, conversational design of social media, but combines it with the structure and policy control mechanisms required in business. So even while people share information freely, everyone has access to exactly the information they have rights to.

Admittedly, Google Plus has an interesting concept of intuitively structuring people into “circles”. But policy control needs in businesses go beyond that, and social collaboration needs to reflect that. Each group needs to have further ability to distinguish between group members, and fine tune access levels right down to every piece of data.

4. You cannot be everything to everyone

Google obviously isn’t going to have two versions of Google Plus, one for business and one for consumers. Its product direction is evidently going to be driven by the dynamics of the fiercely competitive social networking market dominated by Facebook. In fact, its very future might depend on controlling the consumer social network market.

Does a business really want to ride its boat on this stormy consumer market?

5. Social media marketing is not social collaboration.

People sometimes confuse the concept of using popular social media platforms like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter to promote their business, with the concept of using social media design principles internally to spur productivity and collaboration. The former is better described as “social media marketing” and the latter is “social collaboration”.

It makes all the sense in the world to do social media marketing, and use all the attention and activity in these networks to market ones products. Even we have a company page on Google Plus to market ourselves in this community.

This, however, is a totally different baby from social collaboration, where networking, activity streams, “following” and other social tools are seamlessly worked into the collaboration tools we use to accomplish work on a day to day basis to improve productivity. That is not Google Plus’ forte.

At HyperOffice, we have been working on new social capabilities, which deeply integrate with our widely known communication and collaboration suite. Our attempt has been to bring businesses the benefits of new social technologies, but at all times keep it linked it to business data and processes, and contribute to job completion, rather than distract from it.

Let us know if you want to be informed when we launch our social collaboration features.

Guess what’s coming soon…? Be Social (and productive) at work!

The moment of social business is here

It is a great moment in the history of social collaboration. The idea itself is not new. Much has been written over the last 2 years about what enterprise software can learn from the principles of “social” design of popular consumer tools like FaceBook and Twitter – the impact on user adoption, on information access, on time saving, on productivity, and indeed, on the fundamental structure of organizations.

There are also scores of solutions in the market which specialize in “social collaboration” – Yammer, Chatter, Podio, SocialText and so on.

However, the last 2 years can be best described as the early beginnings of the social business movement.  Experts were just starting to flirt with the idea and its implications, and only a handful of bold companies were implementing and experimenting with this new approach. Over the last 2 years, the movement has matured, gained strength, and is now at a cusp. Although not yet close to mainstream adoption, the approach has been tried, vetted, and oozes promise.

The shortcomings of social collaboration solutions today

However, “social collaboration” software today suffers from various shortcomings. Although they claim to be more than “Facebook for business”, most current social collaboration tools offer little more than thin networking and social messaging (or wall messaging) capabilities. This approach may be great for fostering cross organizational connections and communication, but is apparently not suited for structured business needs (project management, document management, scheduling). Other social collaboration tools see themselves as “glue”, where third party applications can be plugged on top of their social layer. However, the integration in this case is limited at best (because of the divergent agendas of the social collaboration vendor and third party), and importantly, the plugged-on applications have no inter-integration. In a true collaboration solution, every piece interacts with other pieces.

The problem of current social collaboration solutions, in our view, is a lack of collaboration depth.

On the other hand, traditional collaboration software providers like Google Apps (Google Plus is NOT a social collaboration app!) and Office 365, by virtue of their size, and their user bases and positions to defend, are understandably slow and cautious in making bold changes. For this reason they have not entered the social collaboration market in a bold way (Office 365 has some basic networking features).

Guess what’s coming soon?

At HyperOffice, we have the nimbleness of a startup, and more than 10 years of experience of developing collaboration software for SMBs. We have the goods to create a social collaboration software with substance.

And we are going to.

We are within weeks of launching new social capabilities to our HyperOffice Collaboration Suite.

While we are not revealing much at this point, the best way to describe the new features is that structured collaboration needs of businesses have been combined with the open, democratic design of social media tools. The following graphic is a good conceptual depiction:

If you want to be informed when we launch, please visit the following page, and reserve your spot on our invitation list. Don’t miss out!

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