Saturday, September 25, 2010

A new infrastructure for work



For more and more people, work is not a place anymore. It is something we do. We've left the factories and assembly lines. Sometimes we need to do that work at a specific place, but a lot of the work we do is independent from, or at least loosely coupled to, physical locations. In that sense, we don't go to work anymore. We just work. Increasingly, we work together with other people. From anywhere. At any time. What matters is not where we work, but with whom and how we can get that work done. In such a environment, we need an infrastructure that ties us together, one that does make it easy to work together across time, locations and organizations. It's as simple as that.

The key idea with an enterprise collaboration platform (or enterprise social software platform) is to shrink the distance between people, as well as between people and information. It makes it easier for enterprises to tap into the full potential of both people and information - internal as well as external to an organization. That is primarily done by enabling connections and frequent and rich interactions between people. In this sense, the people are the platform. The other stuff - the content and the tools uses to interact with both content and people - provides the glue that brings and holds the platform (people) together.

An enterprise collaboration platform is the infrastructure you need to efficiently and effectively operate and manage an enterprise. Today's prevailing infrastructure - email, telephony and face-to-face meetings - simply isn't allowing enterprises to function in sufficient way in challenging business environment. It's messy, insecure, opaque and inefficient. It doesn't scale very well, and - above all - it's not very fit for collaboration.

A key feature of the new infrastructure is that it allows people, content and services to be accessed from any application and any device. Social software should be the heart of such an infrastructure, because people are the platform and their relationships and interactions provide the fabric of trust that collaborative work rests upon.