Five years ago I started this blog because I felt really strongly about an ill conceived contention in a blog post about the promise of RSS. Hours before I read that post, I had no intention or desire to blog but I felt really strongly about my PoV and decided to put up a blog and say my piece. It’s generally how I get motivated to do stuff and see things through. It’s why I started this blog, its why I wrote about the promise of collaboration and enterprise social software, it’s why I got into the services side of social computing, and why I decided to build product and joined SAP. It’s how I am at my best when it comes to making stuff happen.
Now its time to move to the next phase. Both the content and this new re-design. It’s time to stick a fork in version one of the value proposition of Social Business that centered on just emulating public social networks to socialize enterprises with software features. Microsoft SharePoint is still here, email is still here, and the overall stats around social adoption in business remains tepid, to put it kindly. We came, we saw, we got conquered.
But it wasn’t for nothing. The true value of both social and cloud computing as a whole is just now starting to take shape. There’s a larger movement in play that isn’t about the $1.7 billion that the social business software market is chasing in the next few years. This larger movement is centered on how were re-imagining how we operate as businesses and ecosystems and that will fundamentally change the current stack of business applications available in the market today. Some will remain transaction-first and record-first. But many will be re-thought of as network-first. Cloud came over a decade a go and most of it was just a copy-paste of categories such as sales force productivity, talent acceleration, employee on boarding and the like, that should have always been network first. We learn and accelerate our productivity not by reporting a bunch of data points. We drive productivity by learning from each other constantly and ambient-ly and by working together. This is the $160+ billion market of enterprise software that’s about to see many segments disrupted. Newer versions of social computing are already evolving to support this new model at the process efficiency layer by enhancing business application driven functionality with collaboration wrappers. This is a natural next step and is a big part of what I do as someone who drives product. But in many categories this is an intermediate step towards something much more foundational. By new thinking around networked-first business, transactions natively wrapped around it as needed, and extensible platforms that let customers built their own applications that surround the network.
Consider some early examples.
- Yelp built its network around a simple social object – the restaurant review and monetized that social object for the last 10 years. Only now is Yelp getting into the transaction business with the acquisition of Seat Me. Much to my dismay as a foodie (I much prefer the network on Chowhound), Yelp owns the network and can easily enter this market category 10 years late.
- LinkedIn is another. YOU were the social object that it built its network around. Now its billion-dollar business making money from recruiting and other paid services, and I believe it’s a sleeping CRM giant.
- Facebook is a great example of this as well. I found it totally nuts when people wondered why they paid $1B for Instagram. Here’s why: The one social object that drives most of the engagement of Facebook is a photo. Instagram threatened to take control of this most lucrative social object. Wouldn’t you pay 1% of your net worth to protect the other 99% if you had to? It took out an insurance policy on its prized network – the fundamental core that its business will thrive on. And as we saw in the recent earnings, thriving it is.
- SAP’s own Ariba is another example: The supplier is the social object around which we wrap enablement, discovery, and buyer and seller services. With the network in place, the data analytics and additional transaction services that can be produced is something the procurement community has never had access to in the history of manufacturing and outsourcing.
The network is the nucleus and it can outlast any sticky feature or function you can think of. That’s a fundamentally different value framework for businesses.
This blog theme took a ton of searching and tweaking over the last few months and the re-design is still a work in progress. But it represents a lot more than just a refreshed look. I was really looking for something that was simple, clean and very naked. Naked so I could start over on an emerging topic as I did with the version one of social business and make the content and your comments front and center as we define what network-first business models are all about.
Many think of a blog as a way to show the world how smart you are. The reality is that the discussions, debates and even visceral feelings evoked by something I’ve written have made me much much smarter. So thank you.
I’m really energized about this new chapter in how enterprise software (not just enterprise social software) is going to drive the creation of network-first business models.
(Cross-posted @ Pretzel Logic – Social and Collaborative Business)