An infusion of social software is helping fuel an evolution of enterprise collaboration that will eventually give users more flexible and distributed tools for finding, organizing and sharing data, according to a conference of experts exploring the topic.
The evaluation of data explosion and how to harness its value was under examination on the opening day of Defrag 2008, a conference focused on making sense of the volumes of information that individuals, groups and organization are trying to digest.
"We are starting to see a more analytical view of how collaboration and social interaction goes on," said Bruce Henry, who holds the unique title of director of rocket science at Liquid Planner, which offers hosted project management tools.
Speaking on a panel of experts looking at the ways collaboration is changing, Henry says previously people worked in the same building, in similar cubes and on the same set of tools, but today those workers are distributed as are the teams they work on and the data they need.
The dynamic is a natural fit for social software, which helps pull together people and layers of perhaps unrelated data into something that can be defined as knowledge.
"With this different way people work we are getting a picture of how collaboration really works not the myth of how collaboration works."
The idea is that rigid tools deployed to work in mandated ways will give rise to a class of applications that are bound only by the number of ways workers can devise to use them. Those tools include blogs, wikis, tagging, bookmarking, social messaging, profiles, and other social software that facilitates conversation and weaves together people and information.
Some see these tools mixed with traditional corporate applications to create a whole new avenue to information and sharing.
"Going forward what I expect to see is a collaborative canvas across all these disconnected [enterprise] apps that takes advantage of distributed architecture and SOA infrastructure and fuels some great benefits in productivity," said Aaron Fulkerson, CEO of MindTouch, an open source company that offers wiki-based collaboration tools that brings together data from corporate data repositories.