12 IT Trends for 2012: #1 Social IT - IT management as a team sport

Group hugFollowing on from my summary post, this is the first in a series of twelve short articles describing each of the “top 12 IT trends for ‘12” that I believe will challenge IT managers to perform better during 2012.


The first three all share a “social IT” theme, the first being importance of establishing a collaborative or social IT capability. Social media for enterprise (or social business software) takes the principals of consumer social media technologies and applies them to an enterprise context (think Salesforce Chatter or Jive Software). 


Most of the CIOs I speak with have well established consumer social media strategies, however fewer have been able to respond to the expectations of millenials for a workflow better suited to their mode of operation. Fewer still have realized that their own IT organization represents a poster child opportunity for the application of social enterprise software, especially in highly collaborative, asynchronous and distributed tasks such as software development and testing, project management and service desk processes.


My own preliminary research into this area uncovered that IT may well be the best and most pressing use-case for social enterprise software. Just think about your own work day. It might be hard to believe, but research shows that we typically spend less than 5-10% of an day using structured process tools such as helpdesk, quality and requirements management tools. The rest of our day is spent generating ideas and solving problems whether in meetings, conference calls or increasingly within collaborative tools such as instant messaging, social enterprise software (for example Jive’s software or Salesforce’s Chatter) and consumer tools such as Facebook. 


The problem is that all of that information, context and background research performed by your teams is lost. Just think about the number of helpdesk tickets with nothing more than “incident resolved” codes and a meaningless or no solution documented or how many bugs were logged and solved without an effective record of where and how the bug was found, how to reproduce it or where and why the code needed to be changed. The result is often teams that repeatedly re-invent the wheel. Slowly.


I believe that in 2012 there will be huge payoffs for IT leaders who can re-connect “the other 90%” of their team’s work product back to their structured management tools. Max Wesman recently wrote a great piece highlighting what he believes are the key elements required for Social IT to be effective, namely;

  • context-based conversations
  • integrated people finder
  • knowledge base
  • proactive alert notification and multi-modal access
  • and most challengingly, seamless integration into existing workflows


Combine that with the capabilities of meaning based computing software to understand “human information” and the prospect of exploiting the other 90-95% of your work day becomes a very real prospect. 


As Henry Dewing of market researcher Forrester describes, think about all of the incredible ideas, context and intellectual property that’s lost to your enterprise through using standalone process oriented tools - it’s time for IT to get a social life (just hope it’s nothing like the Friendface episode on Channel 4‘s The IT Crowd). 


Group hug image courtesy Meg Cheng (http://www.flickr.com/photos/16454868@N00/2378288736)

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About the Author
Paul Muller leads the global IT management evangelist team within the Software business at HP. In this role, Muller heads the team responsib...

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