“Some people think that “social computing” in the workplace is a camel’s-nose concession to frivolity. They hear “social” and think they’re hearing the opposite of “business” (as in, “it’s a social occasion”) or the opposite of “significant” (as in, “just a social acquaintance”). They’re wrong.
The opposite of “social” is “antisocial” â€“ and it’s time to replace antisocial IT with something that knows how to behave like a useful and valued colleague.”
When a person is said to be antisocial, it means we’ll get grudging and disagreeable responses to our requests. It means we can’t hope for thoughtful notice of facts or events that might be important to us. It means little ability, or inclination, to start or maintain a conversation based on current events or shared interests. These are exactly the characteristics of old-model IT.
“The increased potential for generating surprise is a crucial difference between the kind of technology that most of us rely on every day and the sort that has arisen in the era of Web 2.0 and social networking. The more surprises a technology can produce, the greater its potential value. A few examples explain why this is true and may spark some thinking about how to increase the surprise factor in your business.”
Contrast this with most of the business tools we use. There is almost zero potential for surprise in most of our environments. Our email inboxes are about the only place we can truly be surprised by something. In most other business applications, we get answers to questions that we have asked.
The goal of enabling every business application to generate surprises is the main driver behind IBMâ€™s creation of an ecosystem to support activity streams.
The Activity Streams Project is being implemented in two ways: by extending the Atom Syndication format and by adding a JSON-based format to the Open Social 2.0 standards.
The standard defines verbs that describe what people have done (join, post, mark as favorite, etc.) and objects (article, bookmark, person, comment, photo, etc.) that may be acted upon by actors .
IBM is using the activity stream standards to create applications that can aggregate activity streams from many different sources. The idea is that applications of all kinds, from ERP to CRM to collaboration systems to HR and so on will all be able to post important events and information to the news feed.
Imagine such messages as â€œJohn Doe changed sales opportunity for WidgetCo to 50 percent down from 80 percentâ€ or â€œIan Farquharson notified Supply Chain Manager that Shipment X to Key Customer is delayed.â€
there will be native activity stream applications on mobile devices and tablets that will communicate with a cloud-based service that does the aggregation and helps figure out which activity streams are important to you.
In addition to simple notification, the activity streams data could also include payloads of information that could be used by the device or the cloud-based service to perform activity
The ultimate goal for IBM is not only to show that this suite of applications can be more valuable through integration of news feeds created from activity streams, but to also to act as a conduit so that the rest of the applications and sources of information used in a business can have their value amplified by social networking mechanisms.
Their job is to show that this interconnected collection of applications is going to become the center of integration, a collaborative dial tone for business applications.
If they can get SAP, Oracle, and all the other business application vendors to play along and integrate their technologies into their suite, end users could be treated to powerful surprises.
The other players at the enterprise level, entrants such as Jive Software, Salesforce.comâ€™s Chatter, Ciscoâ€™s Quad, Google Buzz, and others have offerings that have a smaller functional footprint.