I first heard the term “Social Enterprise” back in 2008 from Alex Blum, who was the CEO at a NYC-based startup I was working for called KickApps. We were while-label software that allowed any website to have an online community bolted onto it.

At the time the term “social media” was still young and companies didn’t really understand much about it. However even then we saw the enterprise’s desire to create more social network-like environments for their employees. We had a few major corporations use our platform to deploy these sites behind the firewall, but never really saw any meaningful usage.

I was absolutely skeptical of the enterprise collaboration/social enterprise space for a long time. I never saw us leaving Microsoft office, abandoning email, or posting to an activity feed at work; until I started using Google Apps. Google apps showed me the power of collaboration and operating in “the cloud”.

I see this as being the consumerization and socialization of the enterprise.

Around the same time you started to see startups like Yammer (now Microsoft) and Chatter (now Salesforce) start to create Facebook/Twitter-like products for work use cases. And although I’m not sure how much usage those two systems yield today, they were early movers and shakers in paving the way for the consumerization of the enterprise.

In parallel to these systems entering the market, humans kept quickly adopting the cloud for everything whether it be at home or work. User behavior was evolving quickly, like using hashtags, @replies, etc; these almost became standardized ways of interacting within cloud systems/apps. You also saw front-end development frameworks become sexier and more beautiful like javascript, css, etc.

Today you have systems like Asana and Trello for amazing project and task management. You also have the old school players like PodioJiveYammer, and Salesforce Chatter, who have all had successful acquisitions besides Jive which went IPO.

Why is this Happening? 

Email is broken. Communications is broadly broken, but especially within the enterprise. Our inboxes are full of spam and unnecessary conversations. I am personally fed up and would rather communicate within a chat/messaging type environment versus email.

The other problem is the very siloed set of apps that we access for a variety of reasons. All these apps are unified by one system — email. So if this new social enterprise platform had hooks into all the apps that companies use, would it displace email for good? Slack seems to be disrupting email a bit and has so many of those integrations.

The Future

We must be MobileEmployees will be taking action across all company functions. For example, sales people will just do meetings, calls, etc and do zero to little data entry. 

Is Linkedin your digital business identity?

I think that Linkedin has the potential to be. I think they need to evolve their authentication mechanism and make it more “enterprise friendly” and it might happen.

Either way I believe that there will be standardized “business identity” that we will use to log into our all business applications and use for all our professional communications.