Enterprise social software

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Enterprise social software (also known as or regarded as a major component of Enterprise 2.0), comprises social software as used in "enterprise" (business/commercial) contexts. It includes social and networked modifications to corporate intranets and other classic software platforms used by large companies to organize their communication. In contrast to traditional enterprise software, which imposes structure prior to use, enterprise social software tends to encourage use prior to providing structure.[citation needed]

Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen defined Enterprise 2.0 in a report written for Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) as "a system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise".[1]


The term "enterprise social software" generally describes this class of tools. As of 2006, "Enterprise 2.0" had become a catchier term, sometimes used to describe social and networked changes to enterprises, which often includes social software (but may transcend social software, social collaboration and software).

The phrase Enterprise Web 2.0 sometimes refers to the introduction and implementation within an enterprise of Web 2.0 technologies,[citation needed] because including rich Internet applications, providing software as a service, and using the web as a general platform. This can refer to Social Enterprise Collaboration tools like IBM Connections, Jive, Yammer, eXo Platform. Communifire, Telligent, Get Satisfaction, Tibbr, and more.

Applications of enterprise social software[edit]


Social software for an enterprise must (according to Andrew McAfee, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School) have the following functionality to work well (McAfee 2006):

  • Search: allowing users to search for other users or content
  • Links: grouping similar users or content together
  • Authoring: including blogs and wikis
  • Tags: allowing users to tag content
  • Extensions: recommendations of users; or content based on profile
  • Signals: allowing people to subscribe to users or content with RSS feeds

(Ref: McAfee, Andrew, P. "Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration" (MIT Sloan Management Review), Spring 2006, Vol.47, No.3)

McAfee recommends installing easy-to-use software which does not impose any rigid structure on users. He envisages an informal roll-out,[citation needed] but on a common platform to enable future collaboration between areas. He also recommends strong and visible managerial support to achieve this.

In 2007 Dion Hinchcliffe expanded the list above by adding the following four functions:[2]

  1. Freeform function: no barriers to authorship (meaning free from a learning curve or from restrictions)
  2. Network-oriented function, requiring web-addressable content in all cases
  3. Social function: stressing transparency (to access), diversity (in content and community members) and openness (to structure)
  4. Emergence function: requiring the provision of approaches that detect and leverage the collective wisdom of the community

Software examples[edit]

Specific social software tools which programmers have adapted for enterprise use include:

Social networking capabilities can help organizations capture unstructured tacit knowledge.[citation needed] The challenge then becomes how to distill meaningful, re-usable knowledge from other content also captured in tools such as blogs, online communities, and wikis. In 2008, companies that provide enterprise social software started introducing profile pages to their products, to integrate the functionality of public online communities within the enterprise.[citation needed] This enables knowledge workers to find others with the knowledge they may need.[citation needed] Large organizations find this especially useful.[citation needed]

Specific uses[edit]

Blogs and wikis function as collaboration tools, and as such, they have uses mainly in sharing "unstructured" information associated with ad hoc or ongoing projects and processes, but not for "structured informational" retrieval. However, Shell has started converting its official documentation to wikis, because this enables that company to make documentation updates available in real time and allows non-editors to contribute to the documentation. In this process Shell restructures the paper documents to a set of on-line wiki pages.[citation needed]

These applications can bring added value to company because:

  • It facilitates user ergonomics: navigation more suited to the user, with it, it will save time.
  • RSS feeds to keep employees informed of events: the contribution of the RSS is more customizable, which allows information to focus on individual interests and activities, and this, in all media, focusing inside. Some RSS readers can operate in offline mode
  • A wiki for the company documentation: what a service call to reach such an entity, which is the contact person for doing something, what is this abbreviation to clean work areas ...
  • The collaborative operation as a whole removes some traditional boundaries of hierarchy and organization
  • Increased interaction with customers.
  • Simplified integration with partners.

In the UK, BT (British Telecom) has become one of the country's strongest proponents of enterprise 2.0. The company has introduced a raft of social media tools, including a huge Wikipedia-style database called BTpedia, a central blogging tool, a podcasting tool, project collaboration software and enterprise social networking.

Atos are deploying an Enterprise Social Networking product called 'blueKiwi', across all 78,000 employees, in order to meet is ambition as a Zero email(TM) organisation by the end of 2013. This is a core technology in delivering a more productive and effective workforce, and the create a more open culture within the company, under its Well Being at Work programme.

In the United States, however, companies are adopting Procorem, which offers social enterprise functionality in a different way. Older options tended to focus on business processes, but newer solutions like Procorem have been designed to facilitate human-to-human processes.

Enterprise social software is evolving at a rapid pace, providing users with solutions ranging from the very basic—like blueKiwi—to flexible and mobile options like Procorem.

Business processes often rely on access to "structured" data, potentially from a variety of sources: databases, and directories. Social technologies work to address such complexities.[citation needed]

Not all information can be so easily managed, however. Human-to-human processes are those that require human intervention, and are not easily automated. The "unstructured" information provided by social technologies is valuable, and has proven particularly useful in business processes that lack rigid pre-definition, but require people to work together in adaptive ways to innovate solutions.[citation needed]

A Service Network exemplifies another application of enterprise social software within the context of service innovation initiatives that span academia, business, and government.

Enterprise search differs from a typical web search in its focus on "use within an organization by employees seeking information held internally, in a variety of formats and locations, including databases, document management systems, and other repositories".[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen (2008). "What is Web 2.0?". Association for Information and Image Management. Retrieved 2009-01-20. AIIM defines Enterprise 2.0 as a system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise. 
  2. ^ *Hinchcliffe, Dion. "The state of Enterprise 2.0", ZDNET.com, London, October 22, 2007.
  3. ^ "Enterprise Search: Seek and Ye Might Find", Computers in Libraries, July/August 2008, p. 22.