Consumer to Enterprise

I’ve been thinking around the topic of consumer meets enterprise for a couple of years now. For one it makes my job easier within the enterprise, but exciting at the same time as I strive to drive change, lower costs and keep it simple.

When a disruptive technology takes off in the consumer space I immediately look at the uses and benefits that it could bring to the enterprise. Take Instant Messaging and SMS, these are technologies that tried to fight their way into the enterprise but failed until another generation took it and grew it organically as they entered the enterprise.

This is a hot topic at the moment as we now hear about the darling of the enterprise; Microsoft buying a stake in Facebook. There’s more to this and potentially a brilliant opportunity for the enterprise. On the face of it, there are many questions how a social networking site can be beneficial to an organisation such as mine, I’m not trying to answer those, I am more interested in the simplicity and value of the concept to our organisation.

I don’t know a great deal about CRM, because I do not use one regularly in my role per se, but I know why we have a CRM. In my opinion, our CRM is under used. Everyone in the organisation should be using it. It should build a network of relationships similar to LinkedIn, it should be used to build internal relationships as well as external relationships, there’s much more potential for the CRM platform across the entire organisation and I believe we are about to see a change in this space with the immense popularity of social networking and the recent alliance between Microsoft and Facebook.

Here’s my train of thought. Microsoft have publicly announced their willingness to embrace Web 2.0 applications and their dominance in the enterprise provides an existing loyal customer base to capitalise on. Of course their current cash cow in the enterprise is the Office and Backoffice (Exchange, Operating Systems, SQL etc.) packaged software, but this is not competitive against the likes of Google Apps and Salesforce.com, Microsoft have to ’embrace and extend’ Web 2.0.

Software as a service (Saas) as it’s now called (a.k.a , ASP, hosted, managed, utility services) is certainly the way to go for commodity services, but two things will affect the adoption. Security and Compliance. Whilst it solves the overhead of licensing and license management, it has to meet or exceed the regulatory requirements. This is where Google is finding it difficult to persuade the enterprise to embrace the Google Enterprise offerings. Microsoft, however, know this area very well and as a result are likely to design with this in mind.

Right now we have Windowslive.com but this is certainly Microsoft’s answer to Google Apps. I believe Microsoft is building a strategy to help guide their loyal enterprise base firmly into the 3.0 era.

Of course the alliance with Facebook is about increasing their revenue but out of this will bring opportunities for the enterprise in the guise of a new paradigm of enterprise social networks and collaboration tools with self service security features. Maybe this is what Enterprise 3.0 is all about and pioneers such as Microsoft and Facebook will be the enablers.

Rather than build it in-house, I would like to see LinkedIn and Facebook adapted into the enterprise as the new CRM. Add ‘presence’ to this network and immediately we have the potential for a tacit knowledge\social network within an enterprise.

I’m just trying to figure out how I can play a part in this new wave. It’s time to change and I’m up for it. I need like minded individuals to join me in developing some ideas to market.

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