No, standalone social business software isn’t dead — it’s about to go mainstream

This is a guest post by Matt Tucker, co-founder and CTO of Jive Software.

Last week, Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell wrote a provocative guest post positing that standalone social business software will die this year. I wanted to set the record straight on the parts he got right, but also what he got totally wrong.

The thrust of his argument is that businesses need more than just a Facebook-like activity stream for conversations where employees can talk about work. I totally agree, and also … duh.

But as we enter 2013, the move past this first wave of social business is already well under way. I think Mitchell gets a lot right about what comes next. The second wave of social business is all about delivering measurable business value. It moves beyond conversation and into action. It lets employees get work done instead of just talk about work. And instead of being driven solely by IT, it’s focused on deeper use cases aligned around specific lines of business.

This is a profound transformation. For the first time, companies doing social business the right way are measuring a massive business impact.

McKinsey & Co. last year issued the most comprehensive report on social business and the social economy previously available and found that social technology can provide a 20 to 25 percent improvement in productivity in the enterprise — that adds up to between a $900 billion and $1.3 trillion annual value.

On the heels of that report, we worked with the top global business consulting firm to investigate this further and to understand just how customers are getting value from social platforms, measured by hard ROI metrics.

Even we at Jive were surprised by the results. We found that companies using the Jive platform showed an increase of 15 percent in worker productivity and a 2 to 4 percent increase in topline revenue due to major reductions in time looking for information, fewer meetings, and less email. That’s business value, and those are the type of metrics that every company should demand out of its social business platform.

Standalone social business platforms, when done right, create a powerful social layer that provides the contextual webbing between all enterprise systems, connecting people with expertise and people with information — no matter what app they’re currently using. By giving workers what they need when they need it, they can make decisions faster and be more productive.

Social for social’s sake is dead. Facebook for the enterprise is dead — and frankly, it was never the answer. Pictures of your kids’ soccer team or where the team should go for lunch does not deliver business value. This is what I call the first wave of social business, and it’s long over.

But to equate that with the future of standalone social business software is flat-out wrong.

Those companies that deliver rich, collaborative, and innovative platforms for people to get real work done are winning. These platforms go way beyond the stream so that people can do more of what they love (and get paid to do) –- code, develop, sell, market, innovate, etc.

I believe these platforms won’t come from the IT-centric mega-vendors who are simply bolting on social to their current offerings to sell more business process stuff –- just look at their track records.

So for the record, 2013 is not the year that standalone social business platforms go away, but instead it’s the year that social business goes mainstream. It’s about time.

Matt-Tucker-JiveMatt Tucker is the co-founder and CTO of Jive Software. He is responsible for the long-term technical and strategic direction of Jive’s products. Along with Bill Lynch, Matt founded Jive in 2001 and has helped build the company from just two people to where it is today. You can find Matt on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Social business image via samarttiw/Shutterstock


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