The emergence of Social Software as a Service (SSaaS)


Published in Telecom Asia-17 Feb 2012 as – The dawn of Social Software as a Service

We are in the midst of a Social Networking revolution as we progress to the next decade. As technology becomes more complex in a flatter world, cooperating and collaborating will not only be necessary but also essentially imperative. McKinsey in its recent report “Wiring the Open Source Enterprise” talks of the future of a “networked enterprise” which will require the enterprise to integrate Web 2.0 technologies into its enterprise computing fabric.

Another McKinsey report  “The rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday” states “that Web 2.0 payday could be arriving faster than expected”. It goes on to add that “a new class of company is emerging—one that uses collaborative Web 2.0 technologies intensively to connect the internal efforts of employees and to extend the organization’s reach to customers, partners, and suppliers”

Social Software utilizing Web 2.0 technologies will soon become the new reality if organizations want to stay agile. Social Software includes those technologies that enable the enterprise to collaborate through blogs, wikis, podcasts, and communities. A collaborative environment will unleash greater fusion of ideas and can trigger enormous creative processes in the organization.

According to Prof. Clay Shirky ofNew YorkUniversitythe underused human potential at companies represents an immense “cognitive surplus” which can be tapped by participatory tools such as Social Software.

A fully operational social network in the organization will enable quicker decision making, trigger creative collaboration and bring together a faster ROI for the enterprise. A shared knowledge pool enables easier access to key information from across the enterprise and facilitates faster decision making.

Enterprise Social Software enables to access a shared knowledge pool across the organization. Employees can share ideas, seek out expert opinion and arrive at solutions much faster.  Social collaboration tools can truly unleash a profusion of creative ideas and thought across the organization and enable better problem solving abilities.

Clearly the social network paradigm is new concept which needs to be adopted by any organization which wants a greater marker share and a faster time to market. In today’s knowledge intensive world the need for an enterprise strategy that is focused on enabling collaboration through the use of Web 2.0 becomes obvious.

However enterprises which would like to embrace Social Technologies would face the twin challenges of i) developing the application and ii) secondly deploying it on their own data center.

Enterprises would be faced with the typical “build-vs.-buy” quandary. Organizations that want to benefit quickly from Web 2.0 technologies would prefer a buy rather than a build option.

Besides, the deployment of a Social Computing platform would require the commissioning of large data centers to allow for simultaneous access by the platform users. But the attendant problems of maintaining a large data center can be very intimidating.  The top 3 challenges of large data centers typically center around the

a)      The problems of data growth
b)      The challenges of performance and scalability
c)      And the sticky issue of network congestion and connectivity

It is against this backdrop of relevance of Social Software vis-à-vis the enterprises’ need for collaboration tools that Social Software as a Service (SSaaS) makes eminent sense.

If SSaaS could be provided as a service to enterprises with the option of either deploying it on a public or a private cloud it would make the service very attractive.

Enterprises would not have to go through the software development lifecycle of developing the social collaboration tools besides also saving them the upfront capital expenditures of creating the associated data centers. In addition the enterprise would also not have to face the technical challenges of maintaining the data centers.

Enterprises could either license the SSaaS tools only for the organization’s internal use among its employees or it could open it to its employees, suppliers and partners enabling a greater collaboration of ideas and thoughts.

The SSaaS & cloud service provider would charge the enterprise on a pay-per-use policy based on the number of users of its compute, storage and its network.

An SSaaS service would be a win-win for both the service provider and also the enterprise which can tap the creative potential of its employees.

Social Software as a Service (SSaaS) will be extremely attractive as we move to a flatter and a more knowledge intensive world.

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