IDC reported today that the majority of business workers use the social Web at least once a week.
Social computing and the cloud are becoming equally integral in the enterprise. IDC makes the point that if social computing represents the new business process then cloud computing is the delivery mechanism.
Mike Fauscette oversaw the IDC survey. Here is how he sees the connection between social enterprise and cloud computing:
"The group I run includes cloud research and most of IDC's enterprise apps research. From the survey and just my general perspective I'd say cloud and social are very connected concepts. Social business to me is about cultural shift and transformation facilitated thru technology. Cloud is a key component to that. Cloud supports ubiquitous access and is very important in mobile as the new enterprise desktop."
Salesforce.com is a good example of this new breed of enterprise systems that pulls together real-time communication, applications and content. The company's new product, Salesforce Chatter, is a platform for creating internal social networks. The appplication makes it possible to collaborate in a real-time, secure environment: You can update your own real-time feed. It sees updates from applications. It integrates information from third-party service providers. You can see updates from other people in your network.
Salesforce.com makes the argument that the collaborative nature of the cloud makes this possible. Traditional, desktop applications require a user to go through a lengthy process, where, for instance, a document is created in an application like Sharepoint and business applications are separate from the communication process
A cloud-based service bring these services together into one environment. In a cloud-based environment, API's can be used to integrate third-party applications such as Twitter.
For most of the world, a desktop system is limiting. The enterprise is fast becoming an extended system that reaches out to partners and customers. Those people may be in distant places. They can't access your desktop but they can interact with you in a social, collaborative environment that embraces the open Web, as delivered through the cloud.