VMware exec: Tomorrow's workforce will be based on simplicity

Less is more when it comes to successfully grasping the social enterprise concept, according to a VMware executive.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Our success is not in the power of our software, but in the power it unleashes within each employee, according to Tim Young, VMware's vice president of social enterprise.

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Formerly the CEO of Socialcast before it was acquired by VMware earlier this year, Young explained to the audience at GigaOM's NetWork 2011 summit on Thursday that VMware although doesn't talk about social enterprise as much as some of its competitors, the company does have three pillars that it adheres to when it comes to building new solutions for tomorrow's enterprise workers.

  • It will be deployed on virtual infrastructure.
  • It will be built on a Platform-as-a-service (i.e. Cloud Foundry).
  • It will be deeply social.

Here, Young went into detail about another venture he co-founded, AboutMe.com, which is basically a dumbed-down yet graphically-enhanced version of a user profile, which drew many comparisons to Facebook from venture capital investors he pitched.

Nevertheless, AboutMe grew to have approximately one million users in nine months -- a faster rate of growth than Facebook and Twitter in that span of time.

Young said that he took this concept of simple tools that can provide value to people and applied them to Socialcast, adding that he and his colleagues started to look at things from a "a qualitative aspect" and "who was using our software."

Perhaps not too surprisingly, Young found that companies that were by nature complex wanted to address solutions with more complexity. But Young shook his head at that, and he argued that it was better to strip away features and functionality from Socialcast.

That proved to be successful when figures bumped up from 21 percent to 88 percent in active employee participation for companies using Socialcast.

Displaying an example of superheroes such as Batman and Spiderman during his presentation, Young posited that "people become heroes when given simple tools to unleash their potential."

After discussing research about how other companies that scale try to understand this new employee experience, Young cited one system dubbed Niko Niko ("smile smile" in Japanese).

Basically, Niko Niko is comprised of a giant board on which factory workers could put a happy or sad face on the board next to their names to reflect their moods that day.

Applying this to the enterprise workplace, Young explained that it has the potential to create a "net-promoter score for your employees."

Young said that he and his team found an incredible amount of data from this very simple platform and concept. Specifically, Young remarked that user engagement was high, honesty was surprising, and that managers can "drive a lot of understanding through this."

Furthermore, company leaders can easily grasp the mood across the entire company as well as within particularly peer groups or specific job functions on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Thus, much like the the argument for cloud computing overall, Young made the point that just because social enterprise might seem too simple to be true doesn't meant that it can't yield impressive and insightful results.