My friend and former colleague Bob Pearson – CTO at the WeissComm Group – recently wrote an interesting post suggesting the real opportunity in social media is inside the enterprise. Pearson posits that the field is ripe for solutions that can help organizations integrate their data, foster collaboration and reduce the dominance of email. Pearson mentions a few of the emerging platforms that are aimed at supporting the enterprise – including Google’s new Buzz – that are important steps in the right direction.
While I agree that social media would seem like a perfect fit inside the firewalls – I believe it has huge potential to improve communication and boost productivity – I’m not sure the problem lies with the lack of technology or innovation. In fact, many companies seem uniformed and/or skittish about the range of existing social media platforms suitable for the enterprise – such as Yammer, Jive, Brightidea and Socialtext to name a few. As Pearson points out, there are important compatibility issues IT teams must consider before adopting any of these tools, and many IT folks are still hesitant to consider “cloud” solutions due to concerns over network security and support. The latter is unfortunate, since it would present a solution to a critical problem limiting adoption of social media technology in the enterprise – outdated infrastructure. In my experience, many companies are seriously hampered by outdated, overtaxed IT networks; they just don’t have the bandwidth for rich media. Typically, the same is true of software and hardware. Incredibly, I suspect many employees have more advanced and robust tools (and apps) than those available inside their companies. Adopting ready-to-use platforms managed and hosted externally ostensibly solves some of these challenges, but a better strategy is to find a realistic, long-term strategy to fix the deficient infrastructure.