Our second breakfast speaker was John Bruce, CEO of iUpload, which is apparently going to undergo a name change in a few weeks. He was previously with the Documentum group within EMC, although not (I think) with Documentum before the acquisition. iUpload creates enterprise social software, that is, a platform for blogs, wikis and other social networking channels for use within an enterprise. They offer only a hosted SaaS solution rather than something that can be installed within the firewall, which might be a bit of a barrier for some enterprises who still don’t get that SaaS can be just as secure and have the same degree of uptime as their own data centre. He made some great points about all the things that you need to think about when implementing social networking applications within the enterprise: workflow, permissions, control, metrics, integration, security, compliance, identity management, versioning, reporting.
He also discussed this in the context of a common Web 2.0 content engine; not a surprising approach for someone coming from an ECM environment, and I’m sure that we’ll be starting to see many of these social networking tools creeping into mainstream ECM offerings before long. In that view, issues like security, user administration, integration and metrics are consolidated in the common engine, and blogs and wikis are just distribution mechanisms for the content.
There was a question from the audience on what metrics exist for measuring the benefits of enterprise social networking applications; Bruce had one example of a hotel chain CEO’s blog where they tracked clickthroughs from the CEO’s blog post on a particular hotel to the specific hotel online booking form through to an actual booking, although he admitted that many enterprise social networking applications are implemented because it’s an executive’s pet project. Given what I saw in the Avenue A|Razorfish intranet wiki project last week, there’s lots of places where a hard ROI could definitely be established in terms of cost savings of wikis over standard web page publishing.
Anthony Williams joined back in for the Q&A, and had an interesting comment on the organizational impacts of social networking in the enterprise: he sees boomers as the senior management in organizations today, and gen X as the middle management who are actively resisting all of this new-fangled Web 2.0 stuff that the net gen is trying to bring in because it threatens their burgeoning fiefdoms. There is justice, after all.