Last week I attended SOMESSO and met Eugene Lee, SocialText's CEO. While I know the company reasonably well through Ross Mayfield and some online webinar sessions the company has hosted, this was the first time I'd met Eugene.
He struck me as a strong presenter with a clear vision for where the social computing space is going and over the course of an 8 minute 30 second video recording I captured some of his thoughts on where the social computing space is today, the impact of microblogging on adoption and to get his predictions for the next 12 months.
After the obligatory SocialText 'ad' message, Eugene explained (at 1 min 16 secs) how he sees the integration of point tools like blog, RSS and wiki as the way forward, where enterprises will buy into the suite idea. Given this is the space SocialText seeks to occupy, it should not be a surprise. Even so, it makes sense to consider these tools as an integrated whole.
This became more apparent as we discussed the impact of Twitter style tools (at 3 mins 20 secs) as a potential change agent for adoption. As Eugene says: "Twitter without context is fritter." I have put it another way in the past: content without context in process is meaningless. The two expressions mean much the same thing. Eugene then went on to say he is finding companies are becoming more comfortable with the idea of microblogging tools when they are seen in the context of problem solving and discovery tied to other technologies such as wiki. That in turn is leading to deeper adoption of social computing tools. Off camera, I asked about business run rate even given these emergent benefits. He said that Q1 had been widely anticipated as 'difficult' but that SocialText has seen its highest subscription renewal rate.
Finally I wanted to hear his three top predictions for the next 12 months (at 6 mins 13 secs):
- The buying requirements will be around the integration of things and not lots of little point products
- The emergence of flagship deployments with ROI metrics that will make people feel more comfortable about investing in these technologies
- Vendor-competitors doing more collaborative conversation because it doesn't make sense to throw brickbats at each other where there is much to be done around interoperability.
You can argue that much of what Eugene argues is a direct reflection of the SocialText playbook and of course there is truth in that. Nevertheless, as we have seen so often in the past, point solutions are not necessarily the way to go when you can derive benefit from related technologies under a common platform.
It therefore makes complete sense to consider suite approaches in the social computing space but adopted on a piece by piece basis. That will require some skill in negotiating deals because providers such as SocialText will argue an 'all you can eat' approach.