Social: Invisible embedded or independent Social Layer?

\”Enterprise social platforms are moving from standalone to embedded, and this merges the network into the workflow instead of simply having a social layer,\” Vanessa Thompson, a research manager at IDC in an interview.

via A Look Back: Social Business Trends from 2013.

This is a typical prediction on the future of Social in 2014. Not only IDC, also Gartner expects , that ‘social’ becomes part of the functionality of business applications and will disappear as independent product, will be literally invisible. The good news: Social has arrived in business. The – in my opinion – doubtable message: ‘Social’ seems to disappear.

I don’t agree. ‘Social’ is much more as a Share- or a Like-Button within an application. In my opinion ‘social’ will stay as an independent layer, maintaining, managing, collaborating on crucial Enterprise knowledge. Communities, Wikis and blogs are essential pieces of this ‘social layer’. Cognitive systems and predictive analytics are going to make this layer intelligent, much more ease to consume, to navigate and to find instead of to search THE information and expertise you need right at this moment in the business process. Workflows will access the ‘Social Layer’ right out of the process flow.

We can discuss, where the expert profiles are being managed. I believe, that even the expert information will be part of the ‘social layer’, which is then being used by business applications to identify experts and knowledge. And yes, ‘social’ has arrived in business processes – and this is great, because this is place, where value is being generated. My favorite example of ‘social process management’ is the activity module within IBM Connections, a module, which in most cases is much better suitable and user-friendly to manage projects than complex project management software or endless spreadsheets.

Of course it makes sense to integrate social functionality directly in different business applications, but I believe it is better not to forget the need of the ‘social layer’. There is a huge difference between ‘mobile’ and ‘social’. ‘Mobile’ may disappear as independent layer, because all applications are going to run mobile in the future. ‘Social’ has a different quality, because it is a ‘knowledge layer’ and a ‘collaboration platform’, which is absolutely necessary, needs to continue to exist – and needs to run on all mobile devices …

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