Anyone who's been paying attention knows that social media, big data, cloud computing and mobility are colliding in the enterprise, transforming the way we live and work. Along the way, these factors are raising a host of challenges for the IT organization, as well as the governance and compliance departments.
The impact of these trends is being felt on two fronts: Externally, enterprise customers are making quick use of social media and mobility to influence brand image and make purchasing decisions. Internally, workers are using social media and mobility -- whether IT likes it or not -- and there's vast, untapped opportunity to harness these ways of working to foster collaboration and communication, change business processes and potentially influence the bottom line.
Software and solutions vendors are aiming to give enterprises the tools that would enable them to marry social, cloud and mobility -- internally and externally -- in a way that accommodates the trends while keeping the very real needs for data security, compliance and risk management in mind.
According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow from $600 million in year-end 2011 to $6.4 billion by year-end 2016, a 61 percent increase. The research firm also predicts that cloud computing will grow from a $41 billion business in 2011 to $241 billion by 2020. Meanwhile, the mobile workforce is projected by IDC to reach more than 1.19 billion people worldwide by 2013.
CIOs have the opportunity to drive the discussions about external- and internal-facing social business strategies, and a close look reveals that, in fact, the two are really inextricably entwined.
Externally, businesses need to be able to process and make sense of the vast volumes of data being generated on social media in order to make intelligent business decisions.
Inside the enterprise, the consumerization of IT is a much-discussed topic these days, and the consensus tends to be "give the people what they want."
These were the twin focal points at the IBM Lotusphere and IBM Connect conferences -- held simultaneously in Orlando, FL, Jan. 15-18. At the same time, it was refreshing to hear talk about the needs of the enterprise and, particularly, IT, placed front-and-center in the many discussions taking place around mobility and social media.
How tomorrow's "social business" will play out is less a
discussion about specific technologies and solutions, and more about the challenges
of change management. The real question to ask now is: Do "sanctioned" social
media and mobility solutions handed down from within an organizational
hierarchy stand any hope of being embraced productively and enthusiastically by
an enterprise workforce?