Oracle, SAP, and other old-line business infrastructure companies will have a difficult time gaining traction in the private social media space on their clients' networks says Jim Lundy, leading social media and mobility analyst, co-founder and CEO of Aragon Research and founder of Gartner's social media practice.
Oracle is particularly behind the curve because it has had no social media presence, he told SiliconAngle Founder John Furrier in an interview in the SiliconAngle.tv Cube from OracleOpenWorld. “We gave up covering collaboration at Oracle two years ago because they couldn't provide us with any user contacts. Last year we got to talk to two customers.”
Oracle is supposed to make an announcement about social media late in Oracle OpenWorld, he said, but he is skeptical about its significance.
But, he says, SAP really is not in a much better position, for all its social media messaging at Saphire last spring. Part of the problem, he says, is that a lot of vendors, including both IBM and Cisco Systems, are trying to sell social media, and the potential users feel drown in all the different products. Another problem is the sales force. “The sales force can kill a product. What is the [SAP] sales force going to sell?” probably, he suggests, the products they know.
Then most companies have no business case for social media. And if they do not have a vision for how it will integrate into their businesses, what information they will put on it, how they will attract employees to use it, any social media system they install will probably be unused.
On the other hand, he said, the young college graduates coming into the workforce are arriving with different expectations. “I had an intern last summer who was amazed at us. 'Everyone's reading e-mail all the time,' he said. He had never used Outlook.” He was much more comfortable communicating by having people post on his wall because that was how he communicated with his family and friends.
So does that mean that social networking will replace e-mail? “No, but e-mail will change,” he said.
He recommends against allowing Facebook into the company, partly because of the amount of time wasters that it introduces, and partly because of the security concerns – companies have been hacked through Facebook. Most enterprises do block Facebook access, although a better strategy may be to give employees read-only access to their Facebook accounts so they can track what their children are doing.
The one vendor that may be gaining traction in private social media, he said, is Salesforce.com, mainly because if you subscribe to Salesforce they will turn Chatter on for your company basically with no charge. This is a good strategy for gaining traction in the corporate social media space over time. And meanwhile Salesforce can increase its revenues from its customer base by selling advanced analytics to them. “Companies don't want to pay for social media,” he said. “What they will pay for is analytics.”
Action Item: Develop a strong business case for using internal social media that defines what kinds of information and discussion the company will foster on it, what employees it particularly wants to reach, and who will be responsible for providing daily information that will get older employees who did not grow up on social media in particular into the habit of using it daily. Only when that is done should you actually add social media software to your internal network.