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The Future of Social Business Software

Remember those days, not too long ago, when we used to stay on the edge of our seats in anticipation of the next processor that would roll out of Intel or AMD that would make the last generation of pc’s and laptops look like snails?

Or when storage companies would launch the next drive that would seem so huge that we would wonder if we could ever fill them up?

Yea, I can't say that I was on the edge of my seat, but since I am a bit of a geek, I did get a little excited when I head the news.

Moore’s law has reigned supreme in 1965 and the prediction that the number of transistors on a chip will double about every two years is remarkable.

Untill more recent times that is.

Gordon Moore is probably surprised to see how difficult it’s become to keep at that rate in recent times, in which chip manufactures are hitting a slowdown of sorts. 

We’ve always depended on hardware advances to carry us through the huge growth in information that has become so much a part of our everyday lives — and now many believe (including myself) that we’ll have to turn sthis focus towards the software.

Social software in particular ... seems to be going through much of the same path as hardware did in the earlier days, and at the same mind boggling speed.

The current and future need to have a virtual "workspace" or software that aids in collaboration has been around much longer than most would believe.

As long back as the 1940’s with the Memex as Christopher Allen’s insightful article “Tracing the Evolution of Social Software” points out.

According to the article:

“A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.”

Since then we’ve seen hypertext, information exchange, groupware, business suites, forums, discussion boards, web portals, blogs, and the social networking sites that almost every one of us is on today.

Through every phase from the start, what has been consistent is the growing number of users that have adopted these social technologies with every passing year ... and the immense growth in the volume of content and information that is exchanged and consumed through this software.

And even though analysys say it's slowing down, in order to get the click-throughs, it's really not at all.

Considering that Facebook has crossed 1 billion user count, and then taking into account how many of these people use the platform for over an hour a day, the amount of data the software has to support is immense by any standard.

What’s interesting to note is that it’s not just social networking sites like Facebook that need to keep up with the growing demand.

Businesses all over the world, with employee strengths ranging from a few, to tens and hundreds of thousands are relying on social software for their business communication and collaboration infrastructure — and the information being exchanged is growing rapidly every year.

Now, considering that the hardware technology is not growing at the rate that Moore was confident will continue through the end of time, a lot of emphasis will fall upon the developers of social software to carry us through the evolution of information exchange, amidst the hardware, that could soon seem to become a limiting factor.

All this is well and good on a macro view, but how does all this affect the average social software buyer or user?

When we buy or decide to use social software for our businesses, many of us tend to make decisions that fulfill our current requirements, ignoring the trend at which our information needs are advancing — and ignoring how Moore’s law also applies to social software.

We tend to forget, that although a particular software works well now, it may have to be customized and tweaked to support what’s expected of it along the way and into the future.

All of the large scale social networks have been overhauled and modified considerably from time to time to scale with the growth — and the same applies to even the smaller networks.

Service-oriented architecture, or SOA, which software platforms like our own Communifire is based on, is seeing an increased support among developers who understand the need to leave room for enhancements and new components to be added on in the future.

Back in 2005, InfoWorld published an article titled” IBM exec: Impending death of Moore’s Law calls for software development changes,” where the company emphasized SOA and said:

“Continuing with IBM’s SOA push, Booch introduced a demo of “SOA Integration Framework,” which is intended to provide for a set of services at the developer’s disposal when building an SOA. Still a research project and not an actual product, the framework generates a WSDL for a service and allows the developer to search for appropriate business components.”

While we continue to use social software, we need to learn from its evolution, and remember — even software can become obsolete quickly.

It’s important to think into the future ... and you have to consider the factors that offer you room to scale in the future.

Users will continue to grow; usage of social software is also going to continue to grow, as is the immense volume of information that will need to be handled.

Is your social software up to the task?

Tim Eisenhauer
Written by Tim Eisenhauer

Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions and author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. He’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.

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