Read this post in: French
Twitter was bruising yesterday about Salesforce announcement of its new application, Chatter. With a product introduced as a “Facebook for the Enterprise” by a representative of the company, Salesforce just confirmed what is becoming an important trend in Enterprise platforms: real-time collaboration.
For a long time, the only asynchronous tool used by companies was email, and one of the challenges of Enterprise 2.0 adoption was in helping people getting used of new asynchronous tools like wikis, blogs, bookmarking or tagging platforms, placing them in conditions to deal with knowledge exchange and serendipity values. In parallel, generalization of the Blackberry is putting email back into pseudo-synchronous mode, instant messaging applications penetration rate in companies is about 40%, according to Gartner, and Google Wave is pointing another real-time head into the game. The point, of course, is no more about discussing whether synchronous tools will be part or not of our new toolboxes. They will, for sure, but are they worth the hype?
The Facebook analogy used by Salesforce is indeed indicative of the direction main platform vendors are today heading to; something like “hey, Facebook works as hell, wouldn’t you like to be able to have your employees sharing, interacting, poking each other on business matters? 230 milliions users cannot be wrong”. But is really the Social Web a similar playground as Enterprise? Definitely not. Bertrand Duperrin recently insightfully sketched the differences between managing communities and managing business. While both worlds aim to drive flawlessly working communities, companies need a lot more.
Furthermore, these new tools will put emphasis on time as a critical material, weighting in most process-based tasks. While searching increased productivity along these processes, with the help of real-time facilitators, executives will put further pressure on actual organizations, avoiding to face the necessary cultural shift which has yet to happen. Platform vendors’ “real-time” pitch is with no doubt good for (their) business, as executives will certainly jump in the bandwagon, not for Enterprise 2.0.
This new trend will oblige us to be even more cautious when implementing social tools, as we now must deploy two different layers of interaction, and that, along with leadership, decision-making, knowledge and information, time is the new dimension we have to deal with.