Over the weekend I read a German language article by the analyst Axel Oppermann from Experton Group. He is laying out, why Social Business needs the most current releases of Office-packages. His analysis is, that not upgrading to the newest realeses within 3.5 to 5 years automatically leads to outdated business processes, which ends in an incrusted organization.
Here are my comments to Axels (whom I very much respect): It is by far not sufficient to always upgrade to the newest Office-release. Obviously the suppliers of Office-packages are very much in favor of this and are extremely happy about studies, who recommend such an update policy. In my opinion there are many more important things to consider to become a Social Business (and Axel covers some of these importants challenges like Change Management and cultural change in his article). I would even go one step further: Traditional Office-packages we are used to since 20 years will slowly, but inescapable fade away and mutate into Online Collaboration-Tools with features and functions we already know from Blogs, Wikis, Communities and Online-Editors.These tools will replace the Office-packages as we know them today. Social Software will be the death of traditional Office-packages.
I strongly believe that already today most of the users do not need the complex, overloaded and expensive Office-packages. With Social Software and socially enabled processes this trend amplifies, because the necessar functions are available in the Social tools. Where are Office-packages going? Tools like IBM Docs, which most probably will be integrated in IBMs Social Software-flagship Connections (Information from Lotusphere 2012), lead the way and we will hear more about this in the remaining year.
In my personal workspace I experience every day how I move more and more away from traditional word processesing, spreadsheets and presentations. A lot of my daily work is meanwhile being done with other tools, very often on mobile devices, This blog entry is being written in the blog editor. My weekly newsletter to the European team is being created in the community and is using email as an additional distribution channel. My expense report is no longer a spreadsheet but a application running in a browser. I could add more and more examples, where Office is no longer needed to get my work done.
Yes, of course I still need spreadsheets and presentations. In the age of management by spreadsheets and Powerpoint-Karaoke you don’t get easily away from it. But still I am expecting a change here, a change through tools like IBM Docs which will much more support working collaboratively with colleagues on spreadsheets and presenstations – and this of course not only at the traditional Office-workstation (a PC or in my case a MacBook), but on Tablets and Smart Phones. Even more important I am hoping on a cultural change moving to a more transparent and open organization not living in files and folder silos (I know, perhaps digital naive …)
The age of Social Business brings the age of the Office-monoply to an end. Yes, it will take time, but the indicators can not be overseen. So my recommendation would always be to first analyze the business process, the features and functions needed in the process, to consider a more collaborative and social way (including mobile) to get the work done, before spending money and upgrade to a new Office-Release. The business process (and the customer) needs to be in the centre, not the Office-tool.
[This a translation of my German language comment to Axels article. I apologize for any grammatical or orthographic mistakes. Obviously I am not a native English writer. The comment refelcts my personal opinion, not the one of my employer.]