Social business applications entice, but enterprises are skeptical

Alan Pelz-Sharpe discusses social business applications and why businesses are wary of this strategy.

Fast-growing sales of social business applications show enterprises' need for real-time communication and collaboration approaches. Even so, many businesses are wary of the security risks and management complexity of applying an enterprise social strategy, said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, research director for the social business applications channel at 451 Research, based in New York. In this video interview, he describes the challenges enterprises face in building social business strategies and choosing effective applications and support platforms. He also points to uses that make the effort worthwhile.

Social business is a clunky moniker for the use of social media applications and principles in businesses, said Pelz-Sharpe. Enterprise social software (ESS) is one term used to describe the product category. Whoever coins a better term could make a mint, he added jokingly.

The social business applications market is bullish, even without a catchy title. This year's forecast from 451 Research showed 2014 sales of $13.9 billion growing to $37 billion in 2019. The study covered 145 vendors in four software categories: marketing automation, social media monitoring and management, enterprise collaboration, and social and Web experience management.

The rise of the global marketplace -- both in customer bases and dispersed workforces -- is driving that growth, according to Pelz-Sharpe. Enterprises are clamoring to play in the market, offering integrated social, mobile, analytics and cloud (known as SMAC) social business stacks.

Making the most of this increased growth presents challenges to ESS vendors, however. So far, said Pelz-Sharpe, they've failed to make a good use case for social business. Some push the application modernization angle, saying that wikis, email and other tools are obsolete. Others point to the collaborative efficiencies of socially enabling customers and employees.

Meanwhile, said Pelz-Sharpe, line-of-business executives are not convinced that social applications contribute to their bottom line by improving business workflows or increasing sales. Also, vendors need to address DevOps' need for compliant, cross-platform, cross-device applications that can handle many data types in multiple geographies.

The winning vendors in social business will communicate those attributes and values to enterprise business and technical leaders.

How does your enterprise approach social business applications? Let us know.

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