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BPM Software and the Social Enterprise

Ben Farrell
July 19, 2011

David Carr at Information Week wrote a story yesterday asking "Should Enterprise Software be Just Like Facebook?" He makes some very good points about what has become of the former simplicity of the Facebook user experience. But I believe there are two key points missing from his piece. Through our BPM software, Appian addresses both in our approach to the Social Enterprise and Social BPM.

The first point is that "easy as Facebook" in the enterprise simply means leveraging a UI concept - not the specifics of other bells and whistles. Encouraging effective social collaboration in business means providing the familiar experience of a running feed and easy interaction through posting and collaboration. The reason this matters is because an increasing number of professionals, and the vast majority of younger people entering the workforce, already live significant portions of their personal lives through such a UI. They bring that concept with them to the office. One of the hardest aspects of new enterprise systems is change management. Leveraging a pre-understood concept just makes sense. The fact that Facebook has significantly muddied that experience for itself simply provides a cautionary lesson to the enterprise.

The second, and more important point, is that "social technology" and "social business collaboration" are two different beasts underneath that common UI. At Appian, we believe that a familiar social UI must be exclusively tied to business events and outcomes to drive any real business value. It's not about discussing your favorite movies; it's about quickly pulling the right people into the right system- or human-generated business event. That's how our social BPM is architected.

I wrote an article on the difference between social technology and social business collaboration for Please read it and share your thoughts.

-Ben Farrell, Director, Corporate Communications