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Maximizing the business value from social computing


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Social computing is an important strategic platform for increasing workplace collaboration and knowledge management, and a strategic platform for modernizing enterprise applications to connect collaboration with business processes and transactions, thereby achieving tangible productivity gains and customer value.

There are concrete steps organizations can take today in order to address both parts of the enterprise opportunity around social computing in terms of “horizontal” strategic knowledge management and innovation functions and “vertical” mission-critical business applications. Addressing both parts of this equation is key to success and to unlocking the full potential of social computing in the enterprise.

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Maximizing the business value from social computing

  1. 1. Unisys Disruptive Technology & Trend Point of ViewWhitepaper Series - Social ComputingMaximizing the Business Value from Social Computing Social computing is an important strategic platform for increasing workplace collaboration and knowledge management, and a strategic platform for modernizing enterprise applications to connect collaboration with business processes and transactions, thereby achieving tangible productivity gains and customer value. Addressing both parts of this equation, in terms of social-enabling “horizontal” strategic knowledge management functions and “vertical” mission-critical business applications, is key to success and to unlocking the full potential of social computing in the enterprise.Abstract As enterprise-class social computing technology matures, we anticipate that the adoption of enterprise social computing willFrom over 500 million users of Facebook to the power of social spread and feature-rich platforms will be increasingly used forcomputing to bring about democratic change across entire strategic advantage. We envision a four-phase model for thenation states, the disruptive nature of social computing within adoption of social computing in the enterprise starting withsociety at large is well-known. Businesses are recognizing the adoption of point solutions and public domain solutions,these transformative powers of social computing and are migration to enterprise-class platforms with a full suite ofbecoming compelled to take action themselves or risk losing functionality, and then to rich integration with enterprisevalue and competitiveness. The challenges of globalization, processes and mission-critical applications. Value will becoupled with the consumerization of IT effect, demand that unlocked as organizations integrate these collaborativeorganizations rethink their traditional collaborative approaches platforms with transactional business applications to addamong employees, customers and business partners in order collaborative workflow capabilities to mission-critical systemsto maximize organizational productivity and innovation. Whilst in areas such as exception handling and complex problemsocial computing is well-understood in the consumer domain, resolution not addressed within the confines of these coreorganizations are still exploring how best to leverage social systems. Social computing will additionally emerge as a newcomputing as a strategic platform for increasing workplace strategic organizational capability that extends across thecollaboration and knowledge management, and as an enabling entire enterprise, connecting the workforce, customers andplatform for modernizing enterprise mission-critical applications partners, helping us better manage organizational knowledgeto connect rich collaboration with business processes and and providing human-centric collaboration capabilities totransactions. In addition, businesses need to deliver and be support mission-critical business processes and to measure tangible productivity gains and customer value We envision two key areas of enterprise opportunity aroundfrom their social computing initiatives while at the same time social computing in terms of social-enabling “horizontal”managing inherent risks such as security and privacy.
  2. 2. strategic knowledge management and innovation functions and increase productivity since employees are likely to have“vertical” mission-critical business applications. The end state constant 24x7 access to these devices and therefore yieldis when social computing becomes ubiquitous across software, greater productivity as they merge their work and home livessystems and processes. with multi-purpose devices. Organizations have to take action to embrace this change or risk losing value and competitiveness.In summary, social computing is an important strategic The signs are, however, that organizations have a long way toplatform for increasing workplace collaboration and knowledge go. According to recent Unisys research on Consumerizationmanagement, and a strategic platform for modernizing of IT conducted in conjunction with IDC , nearly half of allenterprise applications to connect collaboration with business information workers surveyed gave their employers low marksprocesses and transactions, thereby achieving tangible for the use of social computing within their enterprise. While theproductivity gains and customer value. There are concrete research showed a gap in meeting worker expectations, it didsteps organizations can take today in order to address both reveal significant adoption plans on the part of of the enterprise opportunity around social computing interms of “horizontal” strategic knowledge management and Here are some examples of where the Unisys Researchinnovation functions and “vertical” mission-critical business on Consumerization of IT shows rapid adoption of socialapplications. Addressing both parts of this equation is key to computing in business:success and to unlocking the full potential of social computingin the enterprise. • Across the board, enterprises report that they expect to increase their use of social networkingMarket Trends, Challenges and Opportunities tools like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn forOver the last several years, social computing has become one business purposes over the next 12 monthsof the most innovative and disruptive trends on the Internet • Business usage of these applications is expected toand has fundamentally changed how people interact and grow from 10-30 percent in the next yearcommunicate with one another. This phenomenon, which • Nearly half of all iWorkers surveyed (46 percent)started as a consumer movement, has turned into a significant gave their employers extremely low marks forbusiness movement as more and more businesses explore the integration of consumer devices and socialthe use of social computing within their organizations to create networks with enterprise applicationsbusiness value through engaging with customers, partners, andemployees in new and more efficient and effective ways. The social computing trend is showing clear signs that it willWhat sets social computing apart is not only the ease of continue to gain momentum and penetrate into businesscreating, aggregating, and disseminating information, but also collaboration. Integration with enterprise applications is one ofits viral networking ability that extends the reach of people and the more interesting directions on the horizon, and could wellcontent beyond established networks and traditional workplace become the most promising for real business value over theboundaries. This unique capability allows people to connect long term.and collaborate in self-organizing networks that tap into the Correspondingly, organizations need to develop an integratedintellectual capital of a larger ecosystem without significantly strategy to maximize the value from their social computingincreasing the communication overhead. This inherent strength investments and initiatives to address various challenges suchof social computing makes it an exceptional collaboration as security and privacy and to determine how and where toplatform to achieve productivity gains, foster innovation, and gain the best return on investment. Here are just a handful ofincrease customer and shareholder value. considerations for CIOs and application owners that need toToday, many employees have started to use social networks be addressed:for their workplace collaboration as well as their personal • How to create an end-to-end strategy around socialconnections, thereby further fueling the Consumerization computing that takes into account the anticipated evolutionof IT trend in the enterprise; that is practices, devices and of social computing across the enterprise?applications from the consumer world are finding their • How to increase organizational innovation and workerway into the business world. Employee access to powerful productivity through workplace collaboration andand feature-rich devices in the consumer world and their knowledge management?experiences with social networking can help organizations2
  3. 3. • How to integrate the advanced collaborative capabilities another, but also by replacing traditional business boundaries of social computing with mission-critical business with unprecedented transparency, collectivism and viral processes and transactions to maximize business and networking reach. shareholder value? Traditionally, knowledge management initiatives have focused• How to create customer value using social computing? on “brain-drain” document-centric repositories “just-in-case”• How to take a step-wise approach to implementing an other employees may find them useful. Often documents end-to-end strategy for social computing across the enterprise? quickly become outdated or are hard to find. The cost of vetting• How to measure the effectiveness of social computing and refreshing the knowledge repository is simply an overhead initiatives in terms of return on investment? many organizations find hard to sustain. On the contrary, a social computing approach to knowledge management can• How to take advantage of the benefits that social computing rely upon the organization’s collective intelligence to provide has to offer without risking the organization’s business answers and advice “just-in-time”. Social computing is the continuity, jeopardizing compliance, diminishing brand, or latest step in the evolution of collaboration. In comparison exposing sensitive information and intellectual property? to the technologies of the past, social computing allowsThe Future of Enterprise Collaboration us to work on tasks collaboratively, within a shared virtualIn today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, the work-space, and in a continuously connected environment.collaboration model organizations adopt has a direct impact on By incorporating “social” aspects of knowledge creation andhow efficiently they operate, how effectively they innovate, and sharing, organizations will be able to make existing knowledgeultimately how fast they grow. Organizations face tremendous repositories more meaningful. Social computing capabilitieschallenges in quickly building effective teams with the right can enable automatic and rapid dissemination of contentskills for the tasks that surface across organizational silos to networked individuals or communities of practice using aand geographical boundaries on a daily basis. With the most “push” model as opposed to traditional “pull”. Moreover, thevaluable enterprise resource of human expertise scattered community may even enrich content with information relevanceacross the globe, the most important catalyst for business such as ratings, tags, and comments. Every “social interaction”success - free and seamless flow of information - is at risk. To that enriches the content has a word-of-mouth effect whichbe successful, organizations need to tap into expert opinion offers a continuous learning opportunity for all interested in theeffectively and in a timely manner, and provide the right subject. More interestingly, when employees choose to followenvironment for knowledge to disseminate easily and efficiently, “subjects” in addition to following people, they will get moreand to foster innovation and growth. relevant content. As information relevance increases, employee engagement increases proportionally. Most remarkably, socialNext Generation Knowledge Management computing enables communities to self-organize and scaleand Collaboration without incremental coordination overhead.Today, social computing presents a rare opportunity for solving Since social computing offers transparent and viral informationthe business challenges around collaboration by re-defining not creation and dissemination, organizations will find theonly how people create, share information, and work with one need to establish relevant communities of practice to allow Enterprise Social Computing Application Scenarios E-Commerce Vertical Solutions Case Customer Exception Management Communities Handling Customer Horizontal Ideation & Innovation Support Solutions Strategic Workplace Management Collaboration Next Generation Knowledge Extended Strategic Social Enabling Mission Management & Collaboration Collaboration Critical ApplicationsFigure 1 – Enterprise Social Computing Application Scenarios 3
  4. 4. people to self-organize and better filter and process all of any successful social computing strategy in order tothe knowledge they create. Organizations should consider retain and advance critical business expertise. In additionsocial computing empowered communities of practice an to community-based collaboration, your social computingattractive option for scenarios such as rapidly on-boarding new strategy should also aim to improve communication andemployees, strengthening mentoring programs, and creating coordination at other levels ranging from small working teamscommunities around specialty areas of expertise vital to to organization-wide. By way of example, in a team-basedorganizational effectiveness. While doing this, organizations scenario, such as a distributed sales team or project deliveryshould take the necessary steps to mitigate potential risks team, team members can leverage a social computingsuch as unauthorized access to sensitive information, issues approach to share updates, weekly accomplishments, clarifysurrounding legal compliance, and competitive intellectual concerns, or make informed, collective decisions, therebyproperty leaks. Exposure to such risks can be avoided by a cutting down time required for status reporting or unproductivecombination of implementing effective policies and procedures meetings. In a company-wide scenario, a social computingand also by securing the sensitive material and limiting access approach to innovation management may allow rapid and easyto it. When dealing with public social media, organizations creation, dissemination, and vetting of ideas as a collaborativeshould also consider active monitoring and response front-end funnel for your overall innovation program. The abilitycapabilities to protect the brand and organizational reputation. to cross-pollinate ideas by reaching a broad employee base with diverse perspectives can lead to greater input into yourOverall agility of organizational learning is a vital competitive innovation pipeline early on in the process and ultimately higherdifferentiator. Connecting the right sub-sets of subject rates of innovation downstream.matter experts into relevant communities is a key partCase-In-Point: Modernizing a Case Management Application to Achieve Productivity GainsA case management application for providing welfare efficiently. Social computing will capture these human-centricbenefits is designed to automate a structured business interactions making them a part of the recorded caseworkflow. However, quite frequently, manual interventions history and facilitating tacit knowledge management. Theare required to resolve exceptions or complex cases that information can be tagged for relevance and can then beoften delay the overall case processing time. This is a good easily discovered by other case workers to improve overallexample of how this kind of case management application organizational productivity.can be improved with social computing capabilities givingcase workers the ability to more effectively collaborateand resolve exceptions and complex cases within thebusiness context.With social computing tools, a case worker can locateexperts and collaborate with individuals who may beoutside of their established networks. The virally-networked,crowd-sourced approach offers the case worker multipleopinions on how best to address unique exceptions.Information from the case can be automatically added tothe social collaboration streams as needed thereby giving Systems Integration Platformexperts the case context and allowing them to collaborateto resolve the issues more effectively. This contextualcollaboration leads to faster resolution and an increase inoverall productivity.A case worker can also follow a case and be alerted ifthere is new development in the case. This allows the caseworker to manage multiple cases more effectively and Figure 2 – Modernizing a Case Management Application with Social Computing4
  5. 5. In order to embark on a social computing-enabled collaboration Because social computing mirrors the natural way weand knowledge management strategy, there are three key interact in real life, it achieves business efficiency with littlephases. The first phase is to familiarize employees with the communication overhead and without complex organizationalrich capabilities of social computing by encouraging them changes or new bureaucratic methods. It can thereforeto establish personal profile pages and to start networking provide the missing business context that allows people towith colleagues across the company using features such collaborate more effectively in scenarios such as resolvingas micro-blogs. Secondly, employees need to be offered business workflow exceptions that requires human judgmentcollaboration spaces or communities of interest that can and expertise or orchestrating transactions that take place inenhance their everyday business processes and work complex collaborative environments. In this end-state, socialinitiatives while simultaneously growing their network to a computing has successfully synthesized social behavior andcritical mass. Finally, once employees have gained efficiencies computational systems - creating a powerful collaborativein their day-to-day communications and have become fluent workflow capability that extends transactional, mission-criticalin terms of participating within social-enabled communities of systems to provide real bottom-line benefits.practice, the final step is to introduce social-enabled features As enterprise-class social computing technology matures, weinto broader, more strategic, corporate-wide communities anticipate that the adoption of enterprise social computingsuch as innovation management. will spread and these platforms will be increasingly used for strategic advantage. Value will be unlocked as organizationsSocial-Enabling Mission-Critical integrate these collaborative platforms with transactionalEnterprise Applications business applications to add collaborative workflow capabilitiesThe potential of social computing is not limited to strategic to mission-critical systems. Social computing will emerge as a“horizontal” knowledge management or idea management new strategic organizational capability that extends across thecapabilities as explained above. It is important to understand entire enterprise, connecting the workforce, customers andthat in the business environment collaboration is most partners, helping us better manage organizational knowledgeeffective when it is in direct relation with the core business and providing human-centric collaboration capabilities to supportand applied in “vertical” industry and process scenarios as mission-critical business processes and functions. The challengewell (figure 1). Therefore, a social computing strategy that as always with transactional systems is to ensure that accessdoes not incorporate the business value-chain and provide to information is secured. For private social networks, thisdirect support for business transactions and processes is can be achieved by leveraging existing system authenticationdestined to fall short of expectations and address only a and authorization capabilities to govern who can access whatsubset of its potential. data. For public facing social networks, it can be achieved byDespite the fact that over the last several decades, most web-based security features including authentication, encryption,business transactions are fully automated with straight-through and access control technologies. As always these measuressystems, often termed “lights-out processing”, there are still need to be supported by tight governance, adequate corporatemany processes in organizations which rely on human judgment policies, and comprehensive end-user training.and expert opinion. These processes are usually critical and Social-enabling mission-critical enterprise applications iscustomer-centric, but tend to be costly for organizations. a multi-step process. Just like any enterprise initiative,Although people can intuitively respond to these types of organizations should start by defining their business goals andprocesses with unmatched effectiveness, efforts to build high-level social collaboration strategy. From an implementationthis capability into business applications have so far failed. perspective, the first step is to conduct an assessment ofTraditional IT applications are strong at addressing well-defined, your enterprise application portfolio to identify those businesspolicy-based processes, but fall short of automating more applications that may benefit the most from social-enablement.human-centric, arbitrary ones such as exceptions. We expect Candidate applications typically include those that require somethat social computing will reach its full potential when it is used manual processes among multiple workers, those that requireto seamlessly support these collaborative business workflows frequent collaboration among many information users, andtied to enterprise applications and processes. applications that involve case management, exception handling, problem resolution or customer service. 5
  6. 6. Secondly, since collaboration is a cross-cutting concern, a Enterprise Application Scenarios for Social Computingcommon social computing platform needs to be selected and Enhancing a Case Management Application toadopted which will provide the common functionality required Improve Efficiencyacross all business units and which will provide strong integration Today, case management systems arecapabilities with existing applications through open standards. indispensible in most organizations, coordinating proceduralThirdly, start with the low-hanging fruit that will provide your activities that surround many complex business operations.users a quick benefit with minimum investment and unlock the Most of these workflow-oriented activities require closepotential of this new capability. For example, in most cases collaboration of case workers who need to perform ad-hocrelatively simple integration can be achieved at the presentation activities outside of the rigidly structured systems. Whenlayer that delivers a quick return on investment but introduces integrated with enterprise social computing solutions, casesignificant business benefits to the end user community. As management systems can provide enhanced support fororganizations learn more about this new paradigm, and adopt these unstructured, yet critical human in their daily workflow, you will want to implement tighter Modernizing an E-Commerce Application to Addintegration with your business applications at the process and Customer Valuethe data layers that will yield even more contextual relevance By integrating e-commerce applications with socialand productivity gains. computing platforms, organizations can enhance customerThe Adoption of Social Computing value by having these applications monitor and recommendin the Enterprise high-relevance products based on customer conversations, like and dislike preferences and collaboration patterns, in addition toThe shift to the integrated enterprise collaboration platform will purchase history, and therefore better address customer needs.not be immediate or easy. It will be an evolutionary journey asorganizations explore the use of social computing in portals Improving Exception Handling Processes to Cut Costsand eventually within business applications (figure 1). We and Improve Customer Relationsanticipate that social computing adoption in the enterprise Exception handling, which often requires expert humanwill have four major phases: 1) Initially organizations will intervention and close collaboration among multiple workersexperiment with point solutions with discrete slices of social and business units, is a costly process that distracts valuablecomputing functionality. 2) As they gain experience, they will resources from core operations. Empowered by enterprise socialmove to enterprise-class platforms integrating a broader set computing solutions, problem solvers can connect, collaborate,of social computing functionality with existing “horizontal” and innovate solutions rapidly, tapping into experts andcontent repositories and community-based portals. 3) At the knowledge bases with greater ease and level, organizations will start to realize greater value can Providing a Strategic Workplace Platform to Increasebe achieved by integrating these advanced social collaboration Knowledge Worker Productivityplatforms with “vertical” enterprise applications and processes. In today’s global and virtual workplace a better platformLastly, 4) Enterprise collaboration will emerge as a pervasive is required to maximize knowledge worker effectiveness andand embedded capability across the organization. Each phase interactions. Enterprise social networking platforms can deliverwill yield increasing business value as adaptation of social this much needed new capability for richer enterprise workflowcomputing becomes more pervasive across the enterprise and thus increasing organizational integrated into more mission-critical business applications Managing Innovation by Tapping into the Wisdom ofand processes. (For more on our vision of social computing the Crowdsadoption, please see the Unisys whitepaper, The Adoption of A social computing-enabled approach toSocial Computing in the Enterprise2) innovation management can allow rapid and easy creation, dissemination, and vetting of ideas as a collaborative front-end funnel for corporate innovation programs and can foster the principles of “open innovation” whereby ideas can be gathered from beyond the four walls of the organization.6
  7. 7. Technology Adaptation Life Cycle for Social Computing Pervasive & Transformational embedded capabilities Integrated with enterprise High applications & Processes Business Enterprise-class platforms impact Moderate Low Off-the-shelf & point solu- tions Phase I Phase II Phase III Phase IV 2000+ 2005+ 2010+ 2013+Figure 3 – Technology Adaptation Life Cycle for Social Computing3Social computing will be a powerful enabler for introducing social computing in the enterprise. Resist the temptationadvanced collaboration capabilities into legacy business of implementing a point solution to address a tactical needapplications. Coupled with mobile computing, social computing without taking into account how people, processes andsoftware will be used to modernize legacy applications applications will be affected holistically.“in-place”, leveraging existing investments and achieving better Integrate social computing for strategic knowledgereturn on investment than risky “rip-and-replace” techniques. management, collaboration and innovation – DevelopA key requirement for success is that any social-enabled social computing as a strategic horizontal capability which isbusiness application must provide collaboration capabilities in available across organizations and applications, connectingthe “context” of the business transactions to support business all information resources and users in a consistent andprocesses such as exception management. (For more on effective way. Leverage the social computing platform as theour vision of advanced modernization using next-generation enterprise collaboration hub for knowledge management,technology enablers, please see the Unisys whitepaper, collaboration and innovation by integrating it with existingModernization Beyond SOA4). knowledge and content management systems and otherSummary & Recommendations office collaboration capabilities.Despite the vast benefits, business gains from social Integrate social computing into mission-critical enterprisecomputing cannot be presumed by default. There are a number applications and processes – Real bottom-line businessof key success factors that organizations have to consider and value can be realized when social computing is integratedplan accordingly to maximize business benefits, to achieve their with enterprise applications and processes. Make socialgoals, and to maximize their return on investment. collaboration capabilities inherently available as part of business applications, especially those that require humanDefine a strategic vision for enterprise collaboration – intervention for transaction processing and exception handling,Enterprise collaboration is a foundational and strategic or can benefit from collaborative human workflows. Lookorganizational capability upon which the business is built. across the full enterprise application portfolio, from “horizontal”Creating an effective collaboration platform goes beyond applications to “vertical” industry applications, for candidatesimplementing a point solution or providing an online portal. that can best leverage contextual collaboration in structuredAn overarching enterprise collaboration and social computing business processes and transactions.plan needs to be developed in support of corporate strategyand vision, taking into account the anticipated evolution of 7
  8. 8. Collaboration is more than the use of technology; it has to and revert to the traditional methods given their comfort levelbe a culturally accepted business practice – Create a cultural or not seeing its value over traditional methods. The successenvironment that makes social collaboration rewarding and of social computing lies in making it a seamless part of dailyengaging. Since social computing is about transparency, business workflow. Education, ease-of-use and seamlessauthenticity, and networked approach to collaboration, integration to daily business processes and applications areorganizations need to reinforce positive behavior and capitalize key to success.on the human social behavior. Since business value derives Build success measures into your social computing initiativesfrom individual participation and contributions, organizations – Align measures and metrics to business goals. Return onneed to provide enough leeway for individuals to figure out investment should be clearly identifiable and measurablehow they can add value in their own way. An open environment within your initiatives to social-enable “horizontal” knowledgethat allows for experimentation will be necessary to create management functions and “vertical” mission-critical businessthe right environment for employees to feel comfortable about applications. For example, if the objective is to improvecollaborating via social computing. exception handling within a critical business process orDevelop an integrated capability to avoid another transaction, then a success metric might be shorter cycle timestechnology silo – Keep in mind that the end goal is delivering for problem integrated business capability. Develop integrated In summary, social computing is an important strategiccapabilities, not isolated islands of tools. Integrate core platform for increasing workplace collaboration and knowledgesocial capabilities with enterprise resources. Specifically, management, and a strategic platform for modernizingcore information like user profiles and communities should enterprise applications to connect collaboration with businessbe centralized and integrated with existing corporate identity processes and transactions, thereby achieving tangiblemanagement and directory systems. productivity gains and customer value. Addressing both parts ofMitigate security, privacy and compliance risk - Like most other this equation, in terms of social-enabling “horizontal” strategicrecent disruptive trends, social computing is a step towards a knowledge management functions and “vertical” mission-criticalmore decentralized and open workplace which may introduce business applications, is key to success and to unlocking thefounded or un-founded security concerns such as a loss of full potential of social computing in the enterprise.control, a source of distraction for employees, and a threatagainst intellectual property. One of the major concerns for Referencesthe enterprise is the danger of allowing unauthorized access 1 Unisys Consumerization of IT Benchmark Study – Summaryto confidential information. These concerns can be mitigated Survey Results, June 2010, a combination of technology and policy solutions such as pub/bl/detail.jsp?id=1120000970004010071developing effective use policies, limiting access to critical 2 “The Adoption of Social Computing in the Enterprise”, Unisysinformation sources, implementing strong governance, Whitepaper, June 2010, media monitoring solutions, and delivering detail.jsp?id=1120000970004210099&pid=&sid=4100008formal user training to increase awareness for risk and toensure compliance. 3 DittoMake social computing an intrinsic and integrated part of the 4 “Modernization Beyond SOA”, Unisys Whitepaper, Aprilworkplace experience – Employee adoption is likely to be the 2010, challenge. While many employees welcome the intuitive jsp?id=1120000970002410122social interface to connect and collaborate, some may resistFor more information, contact your Unisys representative or visit©2011 Unisys Corporation. All rights reserved.Unisys and the Unisys logo are registered trademarks of Unisys Corporation. All other brands and productsreferenced herein are acknowledged to be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.Printed in the United States of America 05/11 11-0039