I had the privilege of reviewing one of the leading ERP vendor’s social strategies last week and must say I was pleasantly surprised.  As you may or may not know, I have been focused on Social Collaboration for business since 2003 with my former initiative, Digital Concourse, where we focused on collaboration with the business users of ERP and technology.

What I experienced

The technology of today’s social collaborations is based on patterns of use that have quickly become the standard.  I expected to see some basic functionality:

  • Walls – Streaming updates
  • Opt-in information – following, likes, connections, etc…
  • Notifications – eMail/SMS notifications
  • Viral – Sharing, etc…
  • Groups – Groups I can follow or are connected to
  • External Feeds – External content shared via groups or that I subscribe to

Though I did see many (not all) of these features, I was encouraged by what I did see and would add, their real challenge is to continue to focus on the business cases that will translate functional business social concepts into real-life business cases.  In my opinion the short term battle will be:

  • Knowledgeable business sales/technical staff
  • Business case focus
  • Demographics of audience (must convince them this is important)

Business applications integrating social as a permanent function

The most impressive and exciting things I reviewed where related to the pervasiveness of the social functionality.  I do think as of this writing, they have a ways to go.  However, what they had shown was available on every form, every report, and just about every row of data that exists in all systems.  In addition, their user interface was updated to integrate social into the entire experience.  From what I could see, this integration was the most serious investment in social business by a vendor.  This vendor is NOT pushing their social function to another vendor to handle, rather, they have made the investment to build, learn, and continuously improve the functionality over time.  This will become considered a strategic and profound decision as time continues since their experience will drive functionality in the business processes we have not even considered yet.

Data as the Point of Interest

In business, when you can apply the functionality of “Social” directly to discreet business data you have a whole new level of functionality, workflow, understanding, knowledge perpetuity, and of course, collaboration.  What will be interesting is how, over time, Social will change how business is done.

Business cases are key to translating business value

Some simple business cases can be:

  • Sharing and easily collaborating on an employee’s review; collaborating with the employee and other relevant staff members while building a history of information that is not forgotten and easily accessed.
  • Collaborating around budget decisions down to specific accounts.
  • Documenting specific issues with an invoice or vendor
  • New levels of workflow functionality that integrates the new social notification channels and more


What I reviewed was pretty encouraging.  Social Business is here to stay.  I do believe the term “Social” is a bit too small, however, I believe it’s here to stay and will innovate business processes profoundly.  I believe It will be what is expected from future business leaders and users.

My next blog will focus a bit more on the “patterns” of usage and the business cases I anticipate will play an important role in these new capabilities.

Is Social Business a disruptive feature in business functionality?  Can it be a discontinuous innovation in the ERP markets that proves to be the next generation of business application functionality?  We will just have to wait and see.