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Mobility and the the “Real Time” Enterprise

by Andrew Brown | Jun 14, 2010

Mobility and the “Real Time” Enterprise

A Techcrunch article about Jive’s new app marketplace over the past week got me thinking again about the role of mobility and social media in the enterprise. In another survey concerning “web-workers”, it is alleged that 85% of workers use their mobile phone as their primary communications device, 60% use VoIP with only 46% using fixed line communications as a primary communication tool. Both mobility and social media are important enterprise tools.

  • In recent years, as businesses have started evolving toward more people-centric collaborative environments powered by wikis and other social software solutions, real time has become an integral part of the social software stack that colleagues use to communicate and work together.

Not one player has successfully extended a social revolution to the enterprise successfully.

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Major ISVs and enterprise vendors have attempted to integrate social media into the enterprise, including Microsoft with SharePoint with its wiki-style pages and built-in messaging, and Salesforce.com with a Twitter-style Chatter service, but nobody has really succeeded.

The challenge for enterprise social media is two fold. First, most enterprises have corporate standards governing firewalls, security and licensed software, which is installed and maintained by IT departments and secondly the web world of beta software, open standards and an “anything-goes” kind of approach to social networks and information sharing is incongruous to corporate IT environments.

Jive are one company looking to change that, but whether Jive’s blend of open APIs, an open app marketplace and installed software can successfully bring these two worlds together remains to be seen. After all, Google is now making inroads into business with the most complete offering of these two components so far, Google Apps.

Essentially, however, the issue comes from the fact that there’s little cognizance of business process activity that generally takes place within traditional ERP, CRM and supply chain systems. These traditional applications address critical functions in the enterprise that are closely tied activities that can be measured in the form of increase revenue or reduced costs. 

  • Also, from a user point of view, “making it look like Facebook, doesn’t make it Facebook”, even if it helps a user to navigate through familiarity! Consider that Linked In has 35 million members compared to over 400 million for Facebook!

Mobility is becoming a key part of enterprise strategy, and companies face the simultaneous challenge of trying to integrate both social media and mobility (as well as enabling social media platforms on mobile platforms).

  • Add to this the task of managing individual liable devices within companies, and the challenge facing IT departments seems even more daunting. IT managers then face a critical decision between tightly “ring -fenced” corporate environments or take the altogether riskier approach of opening up their environments altogether.
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