A new Forrester survey of IT pros suggests that there’s a clean split in the social enterprise space between “haves” and “have-nots” – 49 percent of respondents say that 2012 will see investments in social business tools. And of those who are going social, only 19 percent say that they’re not expanding their use. Enter the so-called “social business analyst,” an emerging IT role designed to maximize value of these tools even as adoption increases.
That survey, answered by 1,332 IT “decision-makers” and executives, indicates that those who have yet to go social have a lot of catching up to do.
In the enterprise, Forrester reports, the main goals when deploying social technologies are fairly consistent: They’re looking to knock down geographic and interdepartmental barriers, flattening the organization and driving collective action. That’s a fancy way of saying that these enterprises are looking to make sure that good ideas and expert advice can get where they need to go – no matter where they are in the company, physically or organizationally, from IT department up to CEO.
But it’s not that simple. Forrester says that from a technical perspective, a successful social enterprise requires not only the usual IT diligence in addressing problems of architecture, interface, security and so on – it needs participation from HR (to protect employee privacy), legal (to look after compliance, security and IP protection), librarians and records managers and community leaders. It takes a figurative village to reap the benefits of social collaboration.
That’s where the “Social business analyst” comes in. It’s an emerging role, and it’s still being defined, so it’s small wonder that it’s often not funded. Ideally, the social business analyst acts as liaison between the IT department and the rest of an enterprise, making sure that social tools are actually building business value.
Something that Forrester’s findings really hammer home is that it’s not simply enough to build a social network. For social business services to work, there has to be an obvious advantage, and that advantage isn’t going to make itself known unless everybody is on the same page.
But I have to wonder if it’s an advantage that’s going to be fleeting. Yes, fifty-one percent of enterprises are dragging their heels on moving to the social enterprise. But there’s no shortage of vendors and consultants who are maneuvering to help customers close that gap.
In a world where I stopped writing this post to check my Twitter eighteen times, the commoditization of the social enterprise seems less of an “if” than a “when.” The really interesting part is going to come when these newly agile businesses start putting their social data to work.