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Social - The New Enterprise Portal

Malcolm Ross, Senior Vice President, Product Strategy, Appian
July 25, 2011

I've been speaking with many clients and analysts over the past several months discussing what exactly is this "social" thing inside the enterprise. I've heard from some analysts that social is not really a market, but just a feature that could be applied to several areas inside the enterprise. While many clients are just asking "How will social inside my enterprise help my business?"

To get some answers we need to look at consumer trends in social platform adoption by asking a simple question:

"What are consumer social platforms replacing?"

It is clear that one of the major losers in consumer social adoption are consumer portal platforms like Yahoo and AOL. Portals traditionally presented an isolated view of the internet based on one person's perspective, where in contrast Social is providing a connected and integrated view. In addition, a number of key features are behind rapid Social platform growth, including:

    • Activity Stream Content Aggregation

    • Contextual Collaboration and Content Sharing

    • Simplified UI

    • Mobility

    • REST

    • OAuth (many enterprises don't know what this is, but it is huge in consumer social and will soon change the nature of enterprise SSO)

    • Social Analytics

I could write an entire blog post on how each of these 7 features is a game changer that is killing portals and driving social platform adoption, but will save that for another day.

Taking these consumer trends into consideration, enterprises should really take a step back and think about what they've done with enterprise portals over the past 10 years and how enterprise portals can be replaced through Social platform adoption. It is important to look at Social much like portal was viewed. Social, like Portal, must be horizontal across systems, departments and functions and also perform contentaggregationand SSO. This perspective will avoid common social platform failures, such as tying social to an individual system, or not connecting social with your enterprise systems and content.


Malcolm Ross, Director Product Management