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Is it time your company got more social?

Social media. Social CRM. Social business software. Whew, seems like every software category is adding the social adjective in an effort to inspire new revenue or new interest. Rumors that Microsoft is about to pay $1 billion to buy Yammer, which makes software for creating private social networks, certainly shine a brighter spotlight on this whole discussion.

Part of the hype around social-this-and-that might just be the usual pre-chasm hype fuled by high-tech marketers. But could technology solution providers build new practices by developing skills, services or consulting storylines tied to social software recommendations?

It is pretty clear to me that the principles of social media and social collaboration will have a profound impact on customer service and on preferred methods of collaboration.

Consider new data released this week by IDC about so-called enterprise social software. The research firm reports that adoption of software from IBM and Jive Software, in particular, accelerated significantly between 2010 and 2011. In fact, both of them reporting more than 70 percent growth year-over-year. Yammer was the fastest growing vendor in the lot, growing its sales by more than 132 percent, according to IDC.

Said IDC analyst Michael Fauscette, group vice president of Software Business Solutions:

“Companies are turning to social software in increasing numbers as they look for ways to increase collaboration, improve both business and individual worker productivity, and efficiently manage a growing deluge of content and information. Compartmentalized and specific collaboration is still required by many organizations and traditional collaborative applications providing closed loop and B2B communications will retain their existence in organizations alongside more open social solutions.”

At the very least, technology solution providers should dedicate someone on their team to exploring scenarios in which the existing solutions for collaboration or workflow processes and customer services could be extended or usurped by some of these new social software approaches.

The momentum behind social networking and social media is very real, and people like you and me have become very used to using these tools for collaboration and communication in their personal lives. Increasingly, that interest is going to spill over into the business world and it is important for solution providers to be prepared for the potential impact.

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