The notion of building a “social enterprise” is taking root in customer relationship management (CRM) circles lately. A social enterprise, according to Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, has three primary characteristics:
- Employees are connected to customers and prospects through public social networks, such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Employees collaborate internally by means of a private social network.
- Enterprise applications themselves are “social,” which means that a system can post updates to, or consume data from, a social media stream.
Each of these requires technology support from IT. Connecting employees to external social systems (I’d also include Facebook as a must-have) is best done via some kind of tool-supported framework, optimally integrated with your CRM. You can build your own private social network, but it’s more likely the social media vendors (examples include Yammer, Salesforce’s Chatter, and Jive) can deliver a better experience than you could build. And remaking your enterprise applications to be social? Well, that one’s going to take a bit more effort.