Open APIs for secure social enterprise computing drive innovation

* Jennifer Leggio is at RSA ConferenceGuest editorial by Chet Kapoor and Michael RichardsonAs the "Chief Innovation Officer" now for most enterprises, the CIO needs a new portfolio of social computing capable methodologies to enable collaboration between empowered users inside and adjacent to the organization.

* Jennifer Leggio is at RSA Conference

Guest editorial by Chet Kapoor and Michael Richardson

As the "Chief Innovation Officer" now for most enterprises, the CIO needs a new portfolio of social computing capable methodologies to enable collaboration between empowered users inside and adjacent to the organization. Social networking is an obvious way for people to connect and collaborate outside of work, but what happens when companies harness this social computing inside company walls to foster collaboration and innovation? The possibilities are astounding when you consider the power that personal connections have in finding employees' skill sets and matching them to where they are needed within the organization. Move social networking inside and across a corporation and you'll be able to encourage more relationship building and collaboration to organically happen where it wouldn't otherwise. This is the key to enterprise 2.0 adoption throughout an organization.

Adding a social layer to the way you do business gives your employees a powerful new means to easily discover each other in a way they would not otherwise happen. This discovery takes place via social navigation based on skill sets, location, career path and professional affinities, or even hobbies. This fosters productive new connections between people and opens the doors for new approaches to collaboration and innovation, creating a better way to find and capitalize on employee talent and ability, while improving retention and employment brand loyalty.

Businesses can catalyze innovation by opening applications to the Web with APIs that enable social interactions across the company. Opening APIs outside of the company can also, for example, give companies the ability to seek out certain highly-specific skill sets from former employees that may be needed down the road. An open API will break the down walls between departments within a company, as well as the walls between the company and former or prospective employees.

There are an unlimited number of business benefits to adding a social layer that fosters innovation, but there are also several key issues that must be addressed. The first and most obvious concern is security. As more information will be moving in and outside of a corporation with open APIs, businesses need to be sure that this information is secured wherever it moves across the Web. A secure layer can be added to social computing to make monitoring security and effective governance a painless process.

Another concern is monitoring who and how people are operating within this social context. The same layer of information that adds security can also give a company analytical insight into social API interactions. Employing analytics to track this data allows companies to observe how the social layer is working so that they can recognize and develop best practices. Analytical insight into how APIs work enables companies to advance best practices by observing what does and does not work well for the company.

Secure open social computing APIs bridge the human information gap between existing systems and unlock opportunity for more effective collaboration, and will ultimately help companies drive innovation and best practices that, in the end, will open up new revenue channels.

Chet Kapoor, CEO of Sonoa Systems, has spent 20 years in leadership positions in innovative software and hardware companies including VP of Content Management and Search Products at IBM and VP/GM for the Integration Group of BEA Systems. In addition, he was CEO of Gluecode, an open source application server company that IBM acquired. Chet also served as a Vice President at webMethods and held various positions at NeXT. Chet publishes a blog with his thoughts on technology at www.edgeofthecloud.com.

Michael M. Richardson, Chief Technology Officer, SelectMinds, is responsible for the overall strategic direction of SelectMinds corporate social networking solutions including technology development, deployment and product strategy. With more than 25 years of high tech and engineering experience, Michael has served in key executive leadership and CTO posts at many leading edge global technology companies, serving the needs of Global 2000 organizations.