Social networks and their impact on the enterprise

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Over the last year there has been a seismic shift across enterprise IT, with the launch of new mobile devices, web apps, social media platforms and mobile operating systems.

With every new release or launch, IT departments are coming under pressure from employees, directors, suppliers and partners to open up the corporate network and allow mobile device access to web-based cloud services and more collaboration tools. This transition from a highly-controlled and centralised internal network of connected PCs to a global estate of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets - which is in turn driving enterprise computing and mobility - is making CTOs anxious.

The consumerisation of IT is inevitable – just consider the growth of mobile usage, the all-embracing influence of social networks and apps, the availability of intuitive and powerful mobile devices and the impact of Generation Y as both employees and customers in a globalised world. No surprise that, in response, the HR Director is likely to seek new skillsets amongst all future candidates.

The evolution of social networks, with cloud-based applications acting as key business communities, has reduced the role of IT departments in selecting, buying and rolling out enterprise software and bespoke applications across legacy infrastructure. Salesforce.com, for example, not only provides cloud-based CRM applications, it now offers Chatter - a Facebook clone for the enterprise providing easy-to-use collaboration, productivity and workflow tools.

As the use of cloud-based business services, social networks and mobile devices increase, the CFO may see significant ROI in mobile flexible working – especially as transport, energy and business rates, for example, seem likely to rise – the increased productivity, collaboration and flexibility of the workforce may also drive faster innovation and product development. This may in turn impact the supply chain requirements for the COO.

With the rise of social networks, innovation and mobile devices, word of mouth recommendations will influence buying decisions. Traditional marketing and advertising in newspapers, print publications and TV will be far less effective, as buyers will search for other buyers who have experienced your corporate brand and seek comments and recommendations. In response, the CMO may need to formulate new strategies for customer-centric interaction, engagement and retention.

We are only at the start of the coming together of these key trends and there is little doubt that every part of the enterprise will be affected. CEOs that act now and embrace enterprise mobility will be able to successfully transform their businesses.