The product, service, people and processes of business enterprises rely on productivity, innovation, customers and growth as elements to fuel the future value and sustainability of business. Technology has been used to advance the elements that drive the success of business, however technology has shifted.
The past use of technology for business purposes has fueled capital expenses to support internal infrastructures, database development and a host of related expenses further fueled by the demand for managerial information. Businesses rely on data for information required to make effective decisions. The frequency of technological changes and the thirst for on demand information has fueled a hyper cycle that drives cost up and productivity down. When you look at the cycle and consider the developments of a systemic social web one can see the potential for a major shift required to remove the inherent sub optimization built by older technology.
Business Process Sub optimization
Every business, regardless of industry, has a set of common processes all interacting with people, products and services. These common processes include: selling, purchasing, employing, marketing, manufacturing, servicing, planning, accounting, budgeting etc. All of these processes are driven by data and managed by a host of disparate applications sitting in organizational servers from around the globe. But database applications, the backbone responsible for most of the world's formal data, are for the most part confined to their owners' proprietary information "silos", unable to draw on the Internet's enormous power to interconnect people, processes, products and services.
Database applications provide the fuel for decisions for most every type of organization, from global giants of industry to your local dry cleaner. Yet most database applications were not built with the vision of a world totally interconnected through networks provided by the social web. The social web provides an enormous resource of text, data, commerce and multimedia all available at the click of a mouse. Business connectivity to the social web could provide significant advances in the management of interconnected databases which can provide the next generation of intelligent information at substantially less cost that previous models. But are businesses connected to the social web?
A Problem with Terminology
Most businesses have yet to comprehend the dynamics, changes and significant impacts of the social web. Part of the problem is the terminology. When we use the term "social web, social networks, social computing" most business mindsets think in terms of how they kids connect and share with friends.
The word social typical means relations between people, social relations generally, or particular associations among people; interactive systems in communities of populations, or any living organisms. These definitions natural create associations to the word social as being people oriented. However there is much being discussed about the web as being a "living organism" because technological interactions are mimicking intellectual properties of human life.
When you define "Life" as the property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism we can begin to see how the technology driving the social web is mimicking response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment. The word social has now advanced to mean interaction with people and things. Thus the phrases "social web, social networks and social computing" begin to take on new meaning from a business perspective.
Earlier we said "Every business, regardless of industry, has a set of common processes all interacting with people, products and services". The social web is driven by advanced technology that connects people and things to everyone, everything, everywhere. Advanced technologies are fueling the interoperability among disparate database applications and to automate manual tasks, integrating them all into a global process that users can access from any Internet connection. The web is getting smarter and the people fueling it are getting more and more creative everyday.
The shift to the social web by businesses has many barriers besides terminology however the opportunities for optimization will be recognized by industry leaders that will dominate the future business landscape. The business leaders may not be names from our past rather new players already planning the future. After all, who ever heard of Mark Zuckerberg just three years ago?
What say you?