CIOs seek to understand how Systems of Engagement will transform businesses for the next decade
There’s a lot of buzz these days about Systems of Engagement, the highly anticipated sea change in enterprise IT that’s so perfectly described by best-selling author Geoffrey Moore as “human culture becoming digital.”
The term Systems of Engagement loosely refers to Facebook-like, Twitter-like, and other types of social networking and mobile technologies being applied to the business world. The simple notion is that people are more productive when they work together. It actually makes a lot of sense – Why not?! After all, we’re all social beings by our deepest nature. And, contrary to popular belief, business people are social beings too. According to Moore, the market may be as huge as that for Systems of Record: the mega-industry that drove the first generation of enterprise IT for the past 30 years. As with any future trend, nobody really knows how big the market will be. Tens of billions? Hundreds of billions? Trillion, like Systems of Record? The one thing technology leaders generally agree on is that it will be big.
This begs the billion dollar question for CIOs, “What will Systems of Engagement look like in the end?” The answer likely exists right in front of our faces. It will eventually look a lot like real human culture.
That is, Systems of Engagement will eventually look like many specialized social networks whereas no two are exactly alike, simply because that’s how people have been working together in the physical world for thousands of years. The social workplace is actually a highly refined intuitive model that has evolved for a very long time. Whether you’re working together on a criminal investigation, a congressional subcommittee, or a mega-church team… you’ll inherently know that you need to bring people together and set some ground rules for how they interact and do whatever they do.
As successful as Facebook and Twitter may be, they’re just the tip of the iceberg in terms of endless possibilities. Whereas Facebook represents a single social group focused on one mission (self-promotion), the real world is far different. In the real world, any given individual may participate in dozens of social groups, each having its own set of ground rules and mission. This simple notion that “every team is different” holds true, whether we’re referring to a coffee club or national defense team. Needless to say, a national defense team will interact a lot differently than a coffee club, so it’s ridiculous to think that all teams will fit into the same “Facebook-shaped” box.
People will work together whether or not they have access to new technologies. They’ll continue to knock on doors and dial phones. The notion behind Systems of Engagement (or SOEs) is that people will work together a lot more effectively with the help of new enabling technologies. That theory will materialize whenever the enabling technologies come of age. That is, SOEs will achieve mass adoption when they begin to look like real-world teams. That time is soon.
During the next few years, we will likely see thousands of specialized social business systems emerge. We’ll see specialized SOEs for hospitals, software teams, church groups, ball clubs, defense teams, marketing teams, and any other team imaginable. If people get together in the real world, then it’s easily imaginable that a social system will exist to support their cause. Why? Because that’s how people really are.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out….
by Cary Landis
By the way, SaaS Maker lets you build and deploy specialized social business applications on the cloud. According to Moore, there will also be a lot of work integrating with legacy systems of record. Also see SaaS Maker’s open API for integrating with legacy systems and emerging web services:
Other great links: