Pehong Chen – It’s a sort of steps that is highly, highly sort of flexible

Well if you look at how business processes happen, you can generally categorize them into three kinds. There are the so called structured processes. These are very well practiced business workflows that for the most part have they already been captured in some sort of transactional system: SAP, Oracle, or a lot of domain specific mainframe applications in different vertical business industries, so these things continue would follow what they have been doing because that’s sometimes represents years and years of best practice, and in the case of accounting probably several 100 years of best practice, because it seems it would remain very, very valuable.

But if you bring them into the context of social network in business, the value added there is to be able to add that social context to it, so that even though the actual record and transaction continue to follow their structure, you can allow more better sort of know and speedier problem solving around that, so that’s already a value by integrating the two paradigms together.

The more common one we know about social networking actually, the other side of a spectrum which is totally unstructured. Things just happened in random: discussions, tweets, micro blogs, lots and lots of things like that, or the social called 2.0 type of communication. Sometime even bits and pieces could be very valuable in that highly unstructured way. Now those things also generate tremendous amount of immediacy and serendipity, that can contribute to, again, now speedier problem solving. Personally, I feel that when you have addressed both ends of the spectrum, which is necessary in any successful social enterprise, social network, whether it’s internal, external, the third element that bridges the two together is the middle, which is the same as structured business processes.

These are stuff that cannot be totally, totally predefined, but however it can be more ad hoc organized as a workflow, rather than no workflow, whatsoever, like the other sort of social tools that belongs to the unstructured part. So we also have this notion of social process which is the same as structured way. It’s not that rigid of a business workflow, but it’s a workflow nevertheless that can carry all. It’s a sort of steps that is highly, highly sort of flexible, thus better organized than no structure at all.

In many ways that’s how people use email for today okay, like approvals… you know exception handling, all those type of things that require some sort of steps in escalation, are hard to predefine who and what should happen, so you want to give people a tool to be able to manage that in this broader context of a social network as well. So I say that those are the three things that you want to be able to integrate and unify, within your company and across your customers, and if you can do that like I said you will find that things can be done a lot faster than ever before.

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