There is no denying that social media and social networking are having a profound effect on today's world and on how companies are conducting their business. Not only have they changed the way companies relate to customers and the public as a whole, but it has also affected the way they work internally and the types of technology that they need to deploy.
In fact, "social" is one of what IDC sees as the "four pillars" of future technology. These four pillars relate to the key technologies which are shaping the future IT and business environment: cloud, mobility, big data and, finally, social. These four technology trends are the key elements in any future IT architecture and they will dramatically change the way IT infrastructure and services are being deployed, funded and managed.
Social features are therefore fast becoming part of the enterprise IT environment. For example, when it comes to customer relationship management, social media has become a tool that enables businesses to listen to and engage with their customers. And when it comes to internal collaboration, it is becoming a natural extension of the communications platforms that companies already have in place.
As a result, it has now become an important business priority to understand the value of "social" both for internal and external purposes. Although many IT departments are still dismissing it as something related to marketing and, essentially, unrelated to IT, some have begun to understand the important role that the IT department and the CIO in particular have to play in the social strategy of the business.
Nevertheless, 2012 was a bit of a tumultuous year for social media - most notably because of the notorious Facebook IPO and all the questions about the efficacy of social media that surrounded it. Because of that, I expect 2013 to be a year where companies and CIOs will be divided into two camps: one that will continue to explore social as a foundation for their business and one that will see the developments of 2012 as confirmation of their doubts about social media and therefore about the value of social applications.
For this latter group of companies, I expect the CIOs in particular to be the ones who push back when their business units ask for social applications. Since they feel that their scepticism about social media has now been validated, they will insist on a proven ROI even more in 2013 than they did in 2012 - and this ROI is still difficult to show.
The first group of companies, however, will continue their drive towards social business - especially the ones that see the value of social being tied to the softer value propositions. They may see social as a way of transforming their companies, as a way to follow the trends of the market, and they may see it as part of a larger whole whereby they can gain a deeper understanding of their capabilities as a company and of their customers and the market.
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