Social software for the enterprise and “edge in” adoption

By February 9, 2007 6 Comments

I have said before that I think adoption of social software by the enterprise will be edge in.

the more I think about it, the more sure I am that this will be the model.  Imposition from the centre won’t happen much because:

  • Even if they see the value CIOs will resist the loss of control
  • Cultural change is necessary to get the best out of social software – you can’t force that through software implementation, companies need to empower their people to take decisions and let a culture of collaboration emerge

And collaboration is what we are talking about – through wikis, blogs, social bookmarking and other messaging tools.

For edge in adoption to work it will help if services are:

  • value add for single users in an enterprise and then add more value when colleagues are invited (in the same way that it helps if consumer internet services offer personal value as well as social value if they are to get off the ground – the del.icou.us lesson)
  • Fully hosted – even a toolbar download can be impossible for employees of large corporations – particularly banks
  • Free to sample and cheap for small numbers of users
  • Quick and easy to get started with

37signals is doing this awesomely with their simple collaboration apps.

Similarly I have been playing with Socialtext recently.  I set up a free trial and used their wiki to organise my thoughts on a deal and now I am using it to collaborate with lawyers and the company.  It added value for me as a single user as a workspace, is fully hosted and I was able to get started v. quickly (initially using it as a place to capture due diligence questions and thoughts on the deal).  I haven’t started paying anything yet though…..