Four Scenarios For The Social Enterprise: It Takes Two To Tango!

From August 30 to September 2, 2011 Salesforce.com is organising its annual user event Dreamforce. This year’s event title is: “Welcome to the Social Enterprise”. What is the Social Enterprise? As Salesforce.com explains in the Dreamforce ’11 tagline:

“There’s a post-PC revolution underway and your customers have moved to a world that’s entirely social, mobile, and open. Has your company? Today every business needs to be a Social Enterprise. Join us at Dreamforce ’11 and you’ll get everything you need to lead your company forward into this next generation of cloud computing”

Salesforce.com then goes on to quote a McKinsey study:

“Fully networked Enterprises are not only more likely to be market leaders or to be gaining market share but also use management practices that lead to margins higher than those of companies using the web in more limited ways”

Now, this blog post is not about why you should engage with social CRM or Enterprise 2.0. You can read all about that on blogs like Mashable, Frankwatching, and DutchCowboys. This blog is about bringing back the holistic view. As a well known telecommunications equipment supplier once put it:

“It’s about communication between people. The rest is technology.”

With too much focus on the nuts and bolts of an effective social media strategy, it is easy to forget that social media is only one of the many ways that we are and will be communicating in the future.

So, how will we be communicating in the future? Is this social, mobile, and open world really coming true? Is every customer and employee fully engaged? Is management supporting and promoting the concept and practices of the Social Enterprise? At METISfiles we believe that it takes at least two to tango in the Social Enterprise: management and employees. As we have done before in our four scenario series we will map permutations of the future against a couple of important drivers, to show that the future might not be as “social” as some may believe it to be. For our four Social Enterprise scenarios we have mapped the uptake of social media by management and IT on one axis, and the uptake by employees and customers on the other. See the figure below:

The Dreamforce ’11 Social Enterprise scenario is the scenario where the enterprise, employees, and customers all embrace social. Of course this scenario also assumes that the infrastructure for cloud is available for everyone in abundance and that security and compliance issues do not throw a spanner in the works. The “happy cloud” scenario that underlies the promise of the Social Enterprise is by no means the most likely scenario for public cloud computing going forward. Recent events have shown use that a “patchy” or “exclusive cloud” scenario are just as likely to happen.

The disconnected employees scenario is a scenario where IT deploys the social infrastructure and management supports and promotes usage. However, employee (and/or customer) uptake is slow or non existent. This scenario is likely to happen in Enterprises where pushing down social software and behavior from the top has not worked, and worker culture is resistant to change.

One example of enterprise social media management push is Atos Origin where CEO Thierry Breton is implementing a top down strategy that plans to do away with email as the primary method of communications because there are more productive and less time consuming ways of communicating available.

The disconnected enterprise scenario is a scenario where employees (and/or customers) embrace social media, bring their own devices, use free software, and develop grassroots social media processes, without any enterprise infrastructure or management support. With management unaware, or even resisting social uptake, the full advantages of the Social Enterprise are not realised in this scenario.

For example, a recent study by Citrix showed that Dutch employees lead worldwide in using private devices such as smartphones and iPads for work purposes. A study by Kadenza confirmed that 68% of smartphone owning managers in the Netherlands check work email on holidays.

The isolated enterprise scenario is a scenario where management does not promote social, there is no infrastructure and employees (and/or customers) do not embrace social either.

These scenarios are four extremes of a possible future. It is likely that parts of all scenarios will come true, so it makes sense to be prepared for all four. Also, a large Enterprise is likely to have country operations, departments and business units in different scenario modes. Last but not least, a Social Enterprise should still be prepared to do business with an isolated enterprise and vice versa, however painful it might be.

So there you have it, four possible scenarios for the Social Enterprise. By all means, do go to Dreamforce ’11. We believe you will learn a lot about what it means and takes to be a Social Enterprise. But remember, it takes two to tango!

Are you prepared to be a Social Enterprise? How will you avoid to become disconnected? How do you plan to do business with an isolated enterprise? Let us know!

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