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Tech firms upgrade social platforms for enterprises

21st June, 2012

Software firms like Oracle, IBM, Infosys, Salesforce.com are building up and investing in social platforms and practices to serve the growing demand of social media in the enterprise space

According to Bikram Singh Bedi, Oracle India's vice president - Fusion Middleware Sales, social media and networking tools popularly known as Web 2.0 technologies are rapidly transforming user expectations of enterprise systems. “Many organizations are investing in these new tools to cultivate a modern user experience in an 'Enterprise 2.0' environment that unlocks the full potential of traditional IT systems and fosters collaboration in key business processes,” Bedi says.

However, Bedi points out that the goal is not to replicate something just like Facebook or YouTube inside the enterprise but to think about how an application such as Facebook engages people to participate, share, connect and drive value. Besides WebCenter, Oracle offers RightNow CX Cloud Service – a combo of web, social and contact center experiences for a unified, cross-channel service solution in the cloud, whereas RightNow is a service enterprise platform for customer experience delivery.

Looking at Oracle's enterprise social offerings and plans, it's certain the NYSE listed firm is seeing a big business opportunity here. It acquired RightNow Technologies last October for $1.5 billion, prior to it bought FatWire for WebCenter and recently, Oracle added two more firms Virtue and Collective Intellect to its social media portfolio. Oracle's buying spree of social media firms in recent times is highly seen as competitive move against Salesforce.com, according to industry experts.

In fact, Salesforce.com bought Buddy Media – a social media marketing firm for $689 million this year, which is in line with its last year's acquisitions of Dimdim, Manymoon, Radian6 and Assistly. This apart, it has invested in many social tech firms such as Seesmic, HubSpot, Box.net and Urban Airship. It's quite interesting to know what is driving this demand of enterprise social platforms within organizations as well as externally in the market.

“We are using social media informally everyday outside the corporate environment. With the growing influence of social media and platforms, today employees wish for that similar feel and user experience with enterprise applications, platforms and systems,” says Himanshu Goyal, IBM India/South country manager – IBM Social Business & Collaboration Solutions. Further Goyal points that lot of enterprises have static intranet and systems, which lack intuitiveness and interactivity as found in social media and smart devices. “Such enterprises are looking at open industry standard tools and platforms that comply with IT security norms as well as integrate and communicate with existing systems,” Goyal adds.

Other factors such as reduction in travel cost, communication and project collaboration across locations are pushing social platforms' usage and are proving quite beneficial to enterprises, according to Goyal. IBM's social business portfolio includes Lotus Notes, Lotus Notes Traveler, Lotus Domino, Connections and Connections SuiteLotus. These offerings are highly in demand in verticals such as media, BFSI, pharmaceuticals, education and IT services. The growth in company's social media practice is dominated by some key acquisitions including Outblaze Ltd, WebDialogs now known as LotusLive and Net Integration Technologies.

According to Forrester Research, spending on social business software is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016, a year in which the market for these products will reach $6.4 billion, compared with $600 million in 2010. While, the demand and spend on enterprise social media is growing, it's important to understand what value enterprises and organizations are deriving. According to Sunil Senan, Infosys' associate vice president & head - SocialEdge, CommerceEdge Platforms, social media platforms are quintessential for any enterprise to expand to new markets and consumer segments.

“There's a palpable gap persisting between the customers and enterprises over the adoption of social media, to engage with brands and the associated consumers, with the former leveraging social media more effectively than the latter. Being live and in real time, social media provides valuable data on customer patterns and behavior which can then be churned out to derive crucial information for setting up specific campaigns targeted at specific consumers and drive personalized engagements,” says Senan.

“Another big opportunity for organizations world-wide is to drive better collaboration and employee engagement within the enterprise. Gone are the days when an “informational” intranet would help employees stay connected with the organization and other colleagues,” Senan adds. For Infosys, the growth in social media and digital space are among the prime trends to drive innovation and business; which is based on company's Building Tomorrow’s Enterprise framework.

“We believe that social business is enabling new enterprise fabric which delivers transformational value to organizations and their customers via the entire consumer lifecycle – marketing, new product development, selling to customer service,” Senan explains. The DigitalEdge, SocialEdge, CommerceEdge and BrandEdge platforms are part of the Products, Platforms and Solutions (PPS) business of Infosys, which comprises the next generation enterprise solutions. This sector is set to contribute one-third of company’s revenue in the coming years from a 6.2 percent revenue generation in Q4, FY12.

Source: CIOL