I have seen the future of social business, and it’s name is Watson. Yes, for all that I think IBM has done wrong with some of it’s lotus/connections work, Watson stands in stark contrast for one simple reason – it can make associations like no human could efficiently do, and lots of them at the same time. See, the beauty and danger of big data is that we now have more info than we know what to do with as we are simultaneously developing artificial intelligence that just might be able to do just that.
Lessons learned from early Social Media
Think about one of the most impressive parts about Facebook and LinkedIn for a moment. It’s not ability to post pictures, comment, like, poke, etc. At least for LinkedIn, it’s the ability to recommend groups and people that you should connect with, whether they’re 1, 2, or even 3 degrees of separation away.
A few social intranets do this, fewer do it well, and none that I’m aware of does it in as nuanced as a way as the recommendation engines of Pandora, Genius, Amazon, or even Seamless web (food delivery). But this will all change as computers are able to do it even better, using complex algorithms and clever matching of paired terms, concepts, and other built in or created intelligence. Think about the way Google translate works, and now pair that with the ever expanding data available through open social graphs.
It doesn’t take too vivid an imagination to imagine SalesForce and other CRM and enterprise tools to play the role of Watson and cover almost everything but actually talking to the customer, donor, or client. As Andrew McAfee said, the job market is about to get even more ‘interesting.’ Just ask the lawyers.
If the supermarket was the graphic association of the baby boomers moving to the suburbs and the ability to get citrus in the summer, bananas anytime, and lamb year round, this year’s image is the Groupon icon. While few “coupon” companies have yet to find a truly scalable and profitable model, we’re probably not far from it (btw, Groupon might just make a lot of money).
Google bought Zagat, and we’re likely to see someone make the same play for Yelp (Yahoo?)… again. This means an opening opportunity for small businesses, but also means a danger in over-spending time on things like social media monitoring etc. As the social graph gets better, real time monitoring will be more automated and focused on a few key needs for only certain industries (namely, Radian6 and Salesforce and the like). As a colleague recently recounted to me, “real time monitoring only matters if your strategies are real time.”
This means better segmentation, and the need to optimize each channel, but the specifics will largely be defined with what we can do with big data.
With localization comes mobile
We are more web-mobile than ever, and this trend is growing at breakneck speed. Mobile personal apps have been around, but the growth in enterprise level mobile apps is expanding at a startling pace. This is undoubtedly buoyed by HTML5 and the ability to do more over faster networks (LTE) and the near ubiquity of wifi. Tablets just didn’t make sense in the pre-broadband/4G era.
Combine mobile with the “consumerization of IT” and a natively tech and web savvy workforce and the enterprise starts working a lot faster.
While I could tell a few stories myself, I imagine you have more illustrative ones. Share them, and your thoughts, on the future of social businesses and organizations.
PS – It appears Dion beat me to the punch, but it’s worth reading his article as well