Corporate America obviously still has a lot to learn about social networking. But while much of that learning process is focused on communications and collaboration across groups of people, the most significant impact social networking might have is on the way information is shared about business processes.
Tibco, for example, has created a framework, called tibbr, that allows organizations to share information about a business process or an event in much the same way people share information about themselves on the wall of their Facebook page. According to Ram Menon, executive vice president at Tibco, this approach allows individuals in an organization to not only follow people, but also follow processes.
More importantly, says Menon, every update about that process, which within tibbr is defined as "Subjects," is delivered in a way that provides context to every other event that has gone on before.
With the latest release of tibbr that was announced this week, Menon says Tibco has added support for geo-location capabilities that makes it easier for organizations to track events associated with specific locations, such as a specific gate within an airline terminal or an off-shore oil rig. Version 3.5 of tibbr also adds HTML5 support, which is designed to make tibbr updates available to any mobile computing device that supports an HTML5-compatible browser.
The tibbr framework obviously leverages events processing and publish-and-subscribe technology that has been in the Tibco product family for years. But in this instance, Tibco has created a lightweight framework for what the company calls "enterprise social computing" or, more colloquially, "Facebook for the enterprise."
The convergence of social networking and traditional business process management technologies should lead to some profound changes that will change not only the way people collaborate, but also how business processes are managed. What will be really interesting to see is how much of this convergence will heal the traditional divide between IT and the rest of the business. After all, once a process becomes socially enabled, the business value of the IT organization is considerably enhanced.