Before we talk about the hole
Let’s take a quick look at how technology has provided value so far. Boiled down and oversimplified, there are three stages.
- Pink: You’ve saved time. Now all your paper and information is digital.
- Blue: You’ve made your digital stuff accessible by other people. Think wiki or a file folder.
- Green: Now that people have extra time and made everything centralized, you can step back and think about better ways to do things.
You are somewhere in the blue egg
If connecting people together and/or sharing content centrally is innovative to you, you’re in the blue egg. It’s an innovative idea, but I’d argue it isn’t delivering valuable change to your core business yet. For that to happen, you have to to fill in the big, fat “Enterprise Hole” and connect the dots to the ways you do things now.
The big, fat “Enterprise Hole”
Companies are execution machines. Remember when you got your first job? You were hell-bent on making a difference and changing the way things got done. You were filled with ideas. Problem was, the minute you looked for a place to deliver that value, you were shown your box and your crank. You probably thought you’d be given a chance later on but then found out that the higher up you go, the bigger your crank. There are generations worth of “keep the trains on time” DNA in place in the Enterprise. No time to change things, those trains have been running like that for years.
So long, in fact, that Enterprises are experts at execution. Everyone has their cog in that machine. Given the legacy in place, it’s no wonder that there are a ton of execution resources and expertise in place. But to unlock innovation, there’d have to be a way to deliver conceptualization and strategic value as part of everyday work, not to mention persistent expertise on how to do it. That effort, from soup to nuts, would need to be linked together. Imagine what having a closed-looped reality from concept to execution would really be like. As it stands, this missing wedge is the big, fat “Enterprise Hole.” Social computing will fill that hole. Not only will it fill it, but it will extend it’s capillaries into the existing execution processes already in place, perhaps making some of the more repeatable and predictable ones, automatic. Sorta like the way your car’s headlights come on automatically.
Industry folks like to debate who will crack this nut. The first group think that it will be the big vendors like SAP, Oracle, IBM or Microsoft and that they will just magically bolt on social computing into their existing stuff. The second group think that there will be new entrants like Google, Salesforce, Cisco or maybe an unexpected CMS vendor. Lastly, there are some that believe that perhaps a pure-play could emerge and join the ranks as a completely new Enterprise player. I guess we’ll see. The good news is that this is the hottest part of the Enterprise software market today and there’s sure to be some big gains soon.
* Credit: Some of this post came out of some brainstorming I did with Hideshi Hamaguchi (@hideshione) from Lunnar. He and I should drink coffee more often. Thanks, as always, to @michaelsigler for working with me on the graphics.