Enterprise social networking continues to be an increasingly important factor for many companies. While companies continue to search for the best way to incorporate the new collaboration functionality into an already crowded enterprise software environment, software vendors are adding new combinations of technology to their offerings. Recently, computing giant Cisco announced an acquisition that moves it ahead several steps in the race to develop the killer unified communication platform. Read the full story on Cisco’s Enterprise social network acquisition in our IT Briefcase column.
Specialized enterprise social network technologies are also starting to be widely used on an enterprise scale, for enterprise needs. The challenge for companies is to find the tools that are best suited for particular functions and help propagate them in a manageable, sustainable way throughout a department or across an enterprise.
Beneath the surface of the hype surrounding social networking tools is the more interesting shift in how companies do business, and how the IT environment is shifting from on-premises deployments to cloud. At the same time, we’re seeing an increased interest in enterprise social media capabilities. For example, VMWare is adding a social networking darling to its web productivity lineup. Socialcast, the brainchild of Timothy Young, founder and CEO, is one of the leading social networking tools for enterprise businesses, with customers that range from Avaya, Nokia, and Philips Electronics.
For complete analysis of the impact of this acquisition, consult Upside Research’s IT Briefcase column on consolidation in the enterprise social media space.
Over the next few years, social networking technologies will be an important adjunct for many corporate or enterprise CRM strategies. They certainly won’t replace standard CRM technologies, but will play an increasingly important role in extending corporate visibility into customer relationships and potential opportunities.
The CRM market is relatively mature, so there’s a strong need for CRM vendors to differentiate themselves to capture new customers. Extending CRM products through integration with social networks will be one way that CRM vendors will try to differentiate themselves.
I expect social networking technologies to eventually play a significant role in industries or markets where social relationships can be particularly important—such as in the legal profession, retail financial markets, venture capital, and other relationship-driven areas.
Social networking technologies can be used to help an organization understand and increase the number of contacts and potential relationships it has in specific companies or industries.
But social networking technologies are just another avenue for identifying, reaching and managing customer and prospect relationships. Traditional CRM functionality will remain core to most organization’s customer strategies.