On Wednesday, CMSWire.com published an article written by my colleague, Rich Wood. Rich’s writing always leaves a lasting impression on me. Perhaps it’s his ability to incorporate subtle humor into his articles and blog posts, or his passion for the topic at hand.
In his latest article, The Future of Collaboration is Right Under Our Noses, Rich suggests looking right in front of us – at consumer products, particularly key currents in consumer usage patterns – to predict the future of enterprise collaboration.
To kick things off, Rich notes:
These days you could do a lot worse in predicting enterprise collaboration trends than simply looking at the consumer market and connecting a few dots to see what works with users. It’s not apples and apples, surely — Snapchat is about as likely to find enterprise support in a large insurance company as Richard Sherman is to be tweeting fond check-ins with his bestie Michael Crabtree at a charity event this winter — but certain things are worth watching. Specifically, when you see a consumer groundswell that transcends specific demographics — say, of age, device form factor or even both — you should stand up and pay attention.
MySpace and Facebook both found their initial population boom with teens, with youth. Both surged to popularity as social networks for young people — but that’s where the similarity ends. Because MySpace peaked before the worldwide explosion of mobile. MySpace never grew beyond young people, never embraced their parents and grandparents. And MySpace never really learned how to monetize itself until it was far, far too late.
Facebook — unlike MySpace — thrives in a world of mobile with a development strategy that gives mobile apps equal (if not greater) weight than the traditional desktop browser. And Facebook — unlike MySpace — is still growing and thriving specifically because your mother-in-law is on it more often than your teenage daughter.
Mobile matters. Demographics matter. Money talks. The enterprise is listening. Listening well.
What does this all have to do with enterprise collaboration? Enter Yammer. If you’ve seen one of Rich’s recent Yammer webinars, or are a current Yammer user, you know that Yammer and Facebook have a few key similarities. For starters, they both have development strategies that hones in on mobile apps and mobile friendliness, putting both Facebook and Yammer right where you will use it most – in your pocket (or even your tablet). Yammer’s app is available on your Windows Phone, as well as Apple and Android. I can vouch for the iPhone Yammer app – it works really well.
Yammer’s interface takes a lot of its navigation and real estate clues from Facebook, arguably for the simple reasons that it’s known and it works (whether or not they’ll admit it, but that’s academic at this point). Familiarity breeds usability, as we’ve said before in this space, and that has surely played a role in Yammer adoption (which evidence says is growing strong).
Rich also talks about monetization. Just as a consumer product needs to be profitable, enterprise social must be tied to something the business cares about.
And then, Rich sums it up with three precautions when it comes to enterprise collaboration:
- Don’t ignore mobile (the likely reason behind the fall of MySpace)
- Don’t undersell baby boomers (in all seriousness, my baby boomer father is on Facebook far more than I am)
- Don’t ignore the power of the dollar (think of Chatter and its effectiveness in this respect)
To read the article in its entirety, check out the full post over at CMSWire.com.
If you happen to be heading Las Vegas for the SharePoint Conference that’s right around the corner, definitely check out Rich’s session, Yammer External Networks: Engaging Customers and Partners.