I spent some time last week talking to Ross Mayfield, co-founder of SocialText and very much a luminary in the Enterprise 2.0 space. The reason for the call was to get an advance briefing about SocialText’s latest product release, a release that sees them further their aim to be a social stream that truly works inside a business rather than sitting on top of it. During our discussion we touched on some very interesting non-product topics but first a quick wrap up of what’s new for this release.

SocialText previously released their Connect product, functionality that aims to surface events from other enterprise systems and data types. This occurs through pre-built connectors and custom developed connectors. Part of this release includes the salesforce.com SocialText Connector which sees salesforce join SharePoint, WordPress and bugzilla as products that SocialText natively connects into its social feed. With the connector users can surface relevant salesforce data within their social feed. As an aside it works the other way as well. Users deeply committed to working within salesforce can surface external information from SocialText into Chatter for example.

I put it to Mayfield that in order for SocialText to become truly “central” it will need to connect to the plethora of enterprise systems that exist – HRM, HOM, BPM, ERP etc. He agreed and indicated that further pre built connectors would be forthcoming but that the development community was being proactive and creating a number of different connectors that other users could utilize.

Events (the term SocialText is using to describe data surfaced in the social feed) carry significant meta data, in a similar syntax to Twitter’s notations feature. Using this meta data users can set complex criteria around what Events they wish to surface (sales leads to EMEA of more than $250000 where the opportunity is fresh in the last 7 days – for example).

The second announcement for this release is a new look UI that aims to make it easy for users to filter and gain visibility over the data that is most critical to them. All the more important when external data is being surfaced.

While talking with Mayfield, I asked for a bit of an update on where he sees adoption sitting right now. In what was a very refreshing change, Mayfield was dismissive of the adoption barrier so often discussed by enterprise 2.0 practitioners. He seemed to feel that the barriers are largely a construct of consultants looking for a problem hat often doesn’t exist. His personal philosophy seems to be that in looking finding solutions to the areas of pain for organization, any adoption barriers that do exist will largely be sidestepped.

It’s a really interesting perspective and one somewhat t odds to the hand waving that seems to go hand in hand with events focused on enterprise 2.0. More discussion about pain points and specifically solutions to those pain points will only help with adoption – even if it causes the income stream of the consultants to dry up a little!

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • I agree in a way: once you implement a platform that actually helps people work better, solve their problems and be more effective, the problem of user adoption becomes mute: there is more value in using the platform than not using it. But getting to that point means building critical mass, and doing that means using a combination of technology, organizational change and communication, where a normal company may find some consultant help very useful. Socialtext may believe that their product is good enough out of the box, but I don’t think business value comes without serious focus on organizational implementation, no matter what the product. Disclosure: I used to be a consultant, now I am community manager. Planning to use that knowledge to become a better e2.0 consultant again in the future.

  • I totally agree with the pov that all work (surely ALL internally focussed work) should be upon solving pains and not selling tech / consultants.

    If not, why the fuck are they (software, consultants) there at all!

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