The Future of Enterprise Social Software

2008 will probably be the year in which corporate Intranets and their associated Knowledge Management environments will get social. Products like IBM Lotus Connections and Microsoft SharePoint have already incorporated social networking capabilities during 2007 with better or worst luck, but we will see how this feature will increasingly become the keystone of enterprise social software products. Networks and people contacts will take place of traditional address books, helping employees to meet more people, locate experts and work with them.

Additionally, there will definitely be more room for integration. We will see how Enterprise Web 2.0 social software will not only try to leverage corporate knowledge as far as possible, but also Internet knowledge residing in open services. As an example, in this year’s Lotusphere conference, IBM has just announced that version 2.0 of Lotus Connections will be integrated with Yahoo! Answers and Facebook. This strategy is possible thanks to the new architecture popularized by Web 2.0, this is, an Internet SOA where the data can be consumed and moved between different Web applications in a very comfortable way thanks to new data-exchange formats like RSS, new architectural models like REST and new browser-consumption capabilities with JavaScript. The fact of using Internet as a source of data in the enterprise context will not only give these new formats and models quite a big impulse for adoption and standardization, but also will help to replicate this new distributed approach behind the firewall.

This is slightly different to what we are accustomed to see in our organizations, where SOA is strongly tied to protocols like SOAP and standards like WS-*. Hence, we will see how these enterprise service-oriented architectures are reinvented with unexplored possibilities, such as original and augmented opportunities of creating and utilizing mash-up applications and widgets as part of our daily jobs. Furthermore, it will be nice to see how the dimensions of this integration scheme become wider, involving mobile devices which will use the Web as a source of knowledge throughout light-weight formats like RSS or ATOM over the HTTP protocol.

Finally, it is important to mention how the proliferation of Blogs, Wikis and Folksonomies within organizations and the inherent hyperlinked structure they introduce will boost enterprise search engines. Regardless of the search algorithm being used, users need to be provided with the ability to jump from one page to another without need to refine the search conditions. This is something that is empowered with the often self-referencing community of bloggers.

Note: This text I have written is an intellecutal property of my company (Grant Paper). Be careful if you want to reference it.