The social discussion: Is anyone actually working?

This post is produced by Alastair Mitchell, CEO of Huddle. Alastair will be speaking next week at CloudBeat 2012 about the importance of businesses shifting towards cloud-based content management to ensure that valuable content is automatically delivered to workers in real-time when it’s needed.

Today, it seems almost everyone is social. It’s incredible to think that every minute, Twitter users average 100,000 tweets, Facebook users post 684,478 pieces of content, Tumblr blog owners publish 27,778 new posts and Flickr users add 3,125 new photos.  While the likes of Facebook and Twitter are great tools for connecting and communicating with people in our social lives, or for brands communicating with customers, the real value of pure-play social tools as standalone applications within a business has yet to be proven.

In recent years, we’ve seen the exponential rise of social business software in the workplace. But, when talking to CIOs and CEOs, the most common feedback I hear is that after an initial peak of enthusiasm, usage of standalone social tools drops off dramatically and often leaves CIOs to rue their investment in them. I’ve even heard (several) stories of managers being told by execs that their teams had to post messages, and that the volume of messages posted would actually form part of their performance review! The danger with approaches such as this is that – intent on hitting their post targets – everyone spends their time discussing the work they should be doing rather than actually doing it.

But why does the initial excitement about social tools in the workplace subside so rapidly when people are such prolific sharers in their personal lives? The general consensus seems to be that, in a business context, social tools need to help people get their jobs done rather than contribute to the firehouse of often irrelevant information that workers are already subjected to. When you consider the sheer amount of information that is shared on a daily basis between each worker and their entire enterprise ecosystem of colleagues, partners, customers and suppliers, to then give them visibility of every conversation happening across the business risks data overload.

This is why I firmly believe that, rather than being a standalone service, social should be a feature baked into all enterprise software and focus on the wider issue of enabling people to discover, share and work on content with others securely. It is for this reason that Huddle was recently named a “Major Player” in analyst house IDC’s Enterprise Social Software Marketscape despite the fact that we are very different from Yammer, Jive, Chatter and other social players.

Our enterprise content collaboration platform uses social principles and techniques to help enterprises and government organizations to collaborate and share content on any device, with anyone they need more simply, quickly and effectively than they ever could before. The focus on bringing content and social together, rather than seeing social in isolation, was also highlighted by IDC analyst Vanessa Thompson:

“Eventually social software will no longer be called out as a separate software market because social capabilities will be embedded across the application portfolio to support the system of relationship. Vendors will start releasing applications that have the ability to embed inside other applications, but customers will also need to integrate and consolidate internal applications to support the change in the nature of work that social capabilities bring.”

With 80 per cent of central UK government departments and more than 100,000 organizations worldwide using Huddle, including Kia Motors, P&G, Unilever, PricewaterhouseCoopers and NASA, providing people with a place to do work, not just talk about it, is very powerful indeed.

Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company, which is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of news stories produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way. For more information, contact garrett@venturebeat.com.

VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Chime in, and we’ll share the data.