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The coming arrival of Social Business Processing

An Imagineering Post

Two posts caught my particular attention over the weekend. The first was an alert in SocialCast by @jimworth about a Gartner press release on the trends for 2011. The CIOs Jim pointed out that if they are not already onboard with all that’s 2.0 they will certainly be coming onboard after this symposium. Why? Well Gartner places Social Communications & Collaboration as number 4 of their top trends for 2011:

Social Communications and Collaboration.  Social media can be divided into:

(1)Social networking —social profile management products, such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Friendster as well as social networking analysis (SNA) technologies that employ algorithms to understand and utilize human relationships for the discovery of people and expertise.
(2) Social collaboration —technologies, such as wikis, blogs, instant messaging, collaborative office, and crowdsourcing.

(3)Social publishing —technologies that assist communities in pooling individual content into a usable and community accessible content repository such as YouTube and flickr.
(4) Social feedback – gaining feedback and opinion from the community on specific items as witnessed on YouTube, flickr, Digg,, and Amazon.  Gartner predicts that by 2016, social technologies will be integrated with most business applications. Companies should bring together their social CRM, internal communications and collaboration, and public social site initiatives into a coordinated strategy.

To this I would add a 5th, but more of this later. The second post that caught my eye was from Dion Hinchcliffe: Making Enterprise Applications Social: Looking at the Intranet and OpenSocial. Here Dion takes up the implication of Open Social on the Intranet. This is something I wrote about a while back, Open Social and the Enterprise Intranet but Dion takes the concept further and consolidates in superb form and links it to the Enterprise App Store:

Open Social & The Enterprise Application Store
Open Social & The Enterprise Application Store - Dion Hinchcliffe

Now what I’ve started to think about is this (see also A cloudy intranet of HTML5 :

1) As the Cloud & SAAS becomes the dominant technology meme it will include the intranet inevitably (the Jive instance I’m currently working on is hosted)

2) The components of the intranet can be widgetized’ – see Dion’s Social External Applications Store and the HTML 5 link above.

3) These cloud based widgets connect via Open Social.

4) Common function paradigms are made as x widget connects with y to create z result – social bundles.

What I can see from this is that we begin to have collections of intranet functional widgets, possibly from different vendors, all socially enabled and connecting, bundled around particular business processes. It should in theory then become possible to both standardise these processes and to enable them to perform core business processes. The model I’m drawing from here, albeit hazily, is commercial commodity exchange, currency conversion and the like. These can be standardised into processes.

The ‘pure’ business process can be automated – it can run without people, without the social. Yet, it is socially transparent – anyone with the right authority (and this is a political / comercial decision) can in this model, see the transactions. More complex processes, those requiring more people input could be standardised and a business process created and modelled – I’m thinking of the sort of analysis that DMAIC entails. The task then becomes one of identifying the process and rebuilding. The build would be made of clusters of social business applications forming processes: social business processing.

We then have a 5th element for Gartner’s division of Social Communication and Collaboration: Social Business Processing: social technologies joined together, connecting with OpenSocial to perform specific and open business processes in a social and transparent way, often, though not exclusively using cloud platforms.

One outcome of this worth noting is that the traditional intranet would become much more a working tool and would cease to be a simple repository or channel of information. The phrase you can find it on the intranet would be replaced by you can build it on the intranet.