The proliferation of social media through consumerism has seeped into the enterprise. Collaboration, reviews, peer recommendations, customer service interactions and other marketing and internal business functions have been increased by organizations through the use of social media. The new opportunities that social media interaction allows for many new applications which should be incorporated into a company’s IT, Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and Collaboration strategies.
Many new categories of software have recently began to emerge as software continually gets larger to include more functions and applications within one package. CRM has stretched to include Social CRM (SCRM) functionalities, PLM has added Web Content management(WCM) to manage documents, content and collaboration for internal and external means. Also unstructured content activity within the enterprise such as email, workflow creation, messaging conversations, informal forums, web content management, email marketing and now social media activity, monitoring, tools and analytics companies may now face “solution sprawl”. Social media usages and strategies can vary from company to company depending on what their overall direction of social media would like to accomplish. Combine all these functions and the formation of the social enterprise starts to take shape. Voila, a new software category is created just like that.
Although this will not replace the traditional ERP functions it is definitely a new software category that evolves everyday as to functionality, features, usability, accessibility and now another integration point to your existing Business Software. Enterprising software companies that have shaped this category such as SFDC, Zoho and others have incorporated a platform strategy to effectively add various tools and applications to their base components. Due to the architecture and openness of these platforms integration is usually seamless when adding additional application functionality.
Recently at Dreamforce11, many of the SFDC application partners use the Force platform and are deeply integrated with SFDC. These partner applications combined with CRM and collaboration capabilities of the platform can quickly add seamless application functionality without heavy integration points. The announcements of partnerships with INFOR and Workday quickly move SFDC into the enterprise space and gives them a whole new target market, backend ERP with front CRM seems like a good match going forward.
If these applications are looked at as separate tools it may be considered pointed solutions that are cobbled together as the old legacy systems once were. The cloud services platform and integrating partner vendors eliminate costly and lengthy integration testing. We also did a similar post on Cloud Services – Services as a Service http://tinyurl.com/3wdn2ue. The power of the platform approach (PaaS) and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) adding functionality is just a pick and choose exercise that allows the user to configure the appropriate workflows, rules, security and conditions. Vendors have taken different approaches to this evolution of software use. Some sell them as separate software, or if you have a platform to develop it upon data can become plug and play as is the goal.
One category of vendors that was represented at Dreamforce 11 was the integration layer software vendors. The sole purpose of these vendors were to seamlessly aggregate and integrate Salesforce to their application and in many cases adding additional business process outsourcing capabilities with technical referencing through the cloud. This middleware layer which resides on the Force Platform can be used to unite disparate systems using the cloud and connect the SFDC CRM to a company’s back end. By effectively creating a middle integration layer complete with data aggregation, dashboards, information dissemination and business process unification and automation companies can easily create and integrate corporate mashups to unite all the data from multiple systems and databases. This trend was mentioned in several of our cloud computing articles on cloud trends and uses of cloud computing. See the Eval-Source blog for further details on usage of these applications and system types.
The new releases of applications that SFDC announced at DF11 only seem to enhance the social enterprise and its capabilities and pushes other software to enhance the value of their own software through their many partners. The partner ecosystem that SFDC has created through their App Exchange will only get stronger as the partner apps will integrate deeper to SFDC and also use their collaboration platform to extend the partner functionalities. Interestingly the www.database.com service extends the functionality of organizations to leverage their data more effectively and simplify administration and application development.
The platform and the new features offered by SFDC will play an important part of the new Social Enterprise. The ecosystem with its many complementary partners and deep SFDC integration offers organizations many social features that were not easily available to SMB without integrating several point solutions. The ability to unite several social apps on one administrative platform with security along with plug and play capabilities will resonate with companies looking to go social.
Eval-Source is an Analyst/Consulting consulting firm that offers enterprise software evaluation for cloud and on-premise systems, cloud computing and social media consulting, business process optimization and technology planning for organizations. Our innovative professional services make your life easier whether it is to acquire enterprise software or provide you with fact–based information to match your business with IT. Eval-Source provides critical decision support to validate your technology investments using the Tru-Eval system. Follow our blog at www.eval-source.com/blog or on twitter @eval_source or our site http://www.eval-source.com