Implementing Enterprise Social Collaboration Technologies can dramatically improve organizational productivity, resulting in significant added value creation for enterprises.

The potential annual value that could be unlocked by social technologies in four sectors of the global sales industry was recently estimated at between $900 billion and $1,3 trillion by the McKinsey Global Institute (“The social economy: unlocking value and productivity through social technologies“, July 2012). They concluded that the productivity of knowledge workers could be raised by 20 to 25 percent by improving communication, coordination and collaboration within and across enterprises.

Telligent Social Community PlatformFurthermore, Forrester predicts explosive growth for enterprise social software from 2011 revenues of US$ 600 million to US$6.4 billion by 2016 which is a CAGR of 61%. According to Gartner Research, the worldwide market for enterprise social software will top $769 million in 2011, up 15.7% from the $664 million spent in 2010; $578million spent in 2009 and predicts revenues will reach US$1 billion by 2012. Clearly there are going to be a lot of enterprise implementations ahead.

Underlying a successful deployment of social tools is an effective enterprise architecture. Enterprise Social Collaboration (ESC) tools are typically implemented as web-based services available in a public cloud provider’s environment, or as a standalone service installed in a company’s datacenter. The strengths and weaknesses of each solution are discernible – in a public cloud environment, implementation, support and maintenance of the ESC tool is outsourced to the cloud provider and in a standalone environment the company’s IT department is responsible for implementation, support and maintenance.

Some of the challenges that the Enterprise Architect faces in implementing new ESC technologies include having knowledge of not only the technological aspects of the implementation – such as information security and infrastructure design knowledge or whether a cloud or standalone service is most appropriate, but also having knowledge and experience with the business aspects of ESC tool implementation – such as the protection of (data) privacy or staff productivity challenges (measuring a mobile worker’s performance can be difficult if not impossible).

As was identified some time ago (2010) as an enterprise architecture trend -social technology is becoming enterprise plumbing and social interaction will become part of normal workflows, and applications must be architected from the inception to enable this. In the future we may see the emergence of very different approaches to architectural styles deployed in platforms, and then in enterprise architectures, for example the use of the full REpresentational State Transfer (REST) model. This would lead to completely new enterprise architectures.

Having both technical and business skills are essential for the Enterprise Architect – for example having infrastructure design skills as well as business know-how such as knowledge of a bank’s regulatory environment (a bank may be cautious to store corporate data in a cloud) are essential tools in the Enterprise Architect’s arsenal.

Enterprise social networking includes a range of architectural issues (e.g., profiles, social graph, activity streams, social objects, and social analytics). The group that can be positioned, at least as a coordination point for social enterprise technologies, to ensure design, media, and technology efforts are aligned is the EA team.

Probably the most common challenge that an Enterprise Architect (EA) will face is managing user expectations. When conducting business on the web, application response times matters the most, as users are expecting transaction response times of only a few seconds or less. If the technology behind the provision of ESC tools creates delays or fails to work properly, users may quickly abandon the new social platform and revert to other less efficient ways of collaboration.

The successful Enterprise Architect will have knowledge of architecture design, application performance optimization, operational support system tools and techniques, project implementation and risk management skills and will have strong coordination and risk management experience. All these skills are essential for both the design of the most effective enterprise architecture and to aid their clients to overcome their technological and business challenges and to ensure long-term customer satisfaction, and enduring value.

iGo2 is uniquely placed to provide its clients with the services of dedicated and experienced Enterprise Architects to overcome these challenges, whether implementing new Enterprise Social Collaboration technologies, or whether migrating from legacy to state of the art ESC technologies.

Stefan B.