In the third article of this series, we focus on the transformation of social technologies, as social has changed from an isolated communications silo to a foundational layer of SoMoClo , connecting the outer layers of mobility with the core infrastructure provided in the cloud(See Figure 1).
SoMoClo: Transforming Enterprise Communications
Business has always been an inherently social activity, requiring organisations to work together towards shared goals.
Traditionally, companies used document management, telephony, and email systems to share information and expertise.
Until recently, these three technologies were the only important social tools in the workplace, and were largely disconnected from mobile endpoints or centralised infrastructure.
Over the past decade, conferencing, social networking, and messaging technologies have added complexity to social business, and created more employee choice and corporate support challenges than ever before.
As social connections proliferate from endpoint to endpoint, and from endpoints to the cloud, organisations must make sure they account for each change in terms of SoMoClo, not only as a standalone technology.
This article considers the evolution of three fundamental social technologies within the SoMoClo framework: voice communications, email, and social networking.
Voice Communications in the SoMoClo Era
In the last decade, Unified Communications (UC) promised to make businesses more connected, converged, and productive by unifying telephony with other communications technologies. However, in practice UC was often seen as a purely social technology.
UC suites included communications channels from presence, to instant messaging, to video, but lacked full mobile device integration, cloud-based scalability, and access to enterprise applications.
As a result, Unified Communications was abandoned by employees, who adopted ‘consumer’ SoMoClo communications environments that surpassed office-approved solutions.
To counter the confusion associated with the term Unified Communications, Aberdeen has promoted the vision of Integrated Communications (IC).
This describes a more selective integration of many communications technologies into an integrated platform based on the realistic organisational constraints of cost, legacy technology investments, and resources.
These technologies may include applications and hardware that have not traditionally been part of the communications environment.
In 2011, organisations are moving quickly to add both mobile and cloud attributes to their Integrated Communications environments.
In Aberdeen's December 2011 benchmark report, Business Optimization through Integrated Communications in the SoMoClo Era, a majority of respondents (54 per cent) sought to incorporate mobility with their current communications technologies.
We also found that 20 per cent of organisations sought to deploy cloud-based communications solutions.
This cohort wished to combine the scalability and failover of cloud solutions with the real-time demands of voice and other Integrated Communications.
Does Email Still Have a Place In the SoMoClo Era?
The recent Atos announcement banning internal email prompted some corporate IT departments to wonder if this was email's death knell.
With the collaborative tools available today, including blogs, microblogs, and other online community platforms, email may seem outdated and approaching obsolescence.
However, the vast majority of companies surveyed for the March 2011 report Real Time Collaboration: Innovate Your Business and Increase Revenue were satisfied with email.
Just under 10 per cent of respondents said they were frustrated with email, and only 2 companies (less than 1 per cent) actually considered getting rid of email.
Banning email is still an experimental and controversial move in the business community, in part because email keeps evolving, from a desktop-only application to a cloud-based asynchronous SoMoClo communications channel.
Whether as a mobile application hosted in the cloud or an aggregator of key institutional knowledge from enterprise and external sources, email still plays an important role in connecting employees to each other, their organisation, and the community at large.
Social Media: Diving Deep into SoMoClo
Social media has seen rapid adoption in the enterprise as a communications tool. Forty-one percent (41 per cent) of respondents in our December 2011 Business Optimization study use social media (defined as external platforms like Facebook or Twitter), while another 23 per cent plan to adopt social media in the next year.
In the Aberdeen research community, social media has already crossed the chasm to widespread acceptance and use.
Part of the reason for this change is that many social media platforms have both mobile and cloud-based support, which allows companies to adopt social media without a large infrastructure investment.
Companies which have already adopted social media quickly seek to make it a standard communications channel: half of Aberdeen respondents using social media plan to integrate it more deeply with their current communications platform. By formally integrating social media, they have acknowledged its central importance to their organisations.
Rationalising Communications in the SoMoClo Way
Modern CIOs are challenged to align differing and sometimes divergent technology trends to meet evolving corporate demand.
Being ‘Dr. No’ (the ultimate defender of technology integrity, at odds with innovation and change management) is no longer a viable approach; companies need whatever competitive advantages and productivity gains they can achieve.
Employees also expect work environments to have technology capabilities comparable to the advanced features they use at home.
By thinking about social communications strategies in a SoMoClo context, CIOs can avoid committing to dead-end enterprise technology, and ensure their technology investments will support future communications needs and employee expectations.
Hyoun Park is a research analyst, telecom and unified communications at Aberdeen Group