Should Social Meet Connected?

A new study from ABI Research saying the integration of social networks adds to the value of M2M strategies for enterprises has me thinking that we need to be careful about what type of “social” we are talking about. 

If it is something like Chatter from Salesforce.com, then I agree that social has a spot. In fact, ABI uses this as an example that will have immediate near-term impact, citing the fact a growing number of enterprises have been adopting the tool. It is a tool that I have examined recently, and will get to that in a moment.

But I guess where ABI has me calling the topic into question with the statement: “Going forward, the emphasis will shift towards Facebook and other consumer-facing networks, which ABI Research forecasts to cover 2.9 billion users by end-2018.” I tend to cringe when I see a statement being qualified by the fact it is forecasted to grow by ‘X’ amount of users. In other words, let’s not say social should be a part of M2M simply because billions of people are using Facebook.

Let’s say you wish to use Facebook with M2M; my question is how will you intend to use it? Remember, that by using a social-media channel as an outlet of your brand your customers won’t necessarily separate you from Facebook when something goes awry.

I keep thinking of the example of companies that use Facebook or Twitter to sell limited edition products and use the social-media channel as the storefront rather than their own internal processing system. There have been cases where it has gone awry and the consumers end up angry with the brand even if the hiccup was more on the part of the social media channel than the product maker.

Another thing to consider is the data ownership. When it comes to M2M we are dealing with some high-value data—data you want to ensure you hold ownership of and harness complete control over. Once it’s social, it’s hard to tell who has hold of it.

On the other hand though, when it comes to something like the Salesforce.com Chatter product, this builds an interesting case for having your machines become social—which is a completely different story, in my opinion. As I alluded to earlier, I have looked into this tool a bit and like how Salesforce.com is discovering ways leverage the Facebook model to connect customers, machines, employees, and such.

In particular, I like the example where GE pulls data feeds from jet engines installed for a major airline into Chatter where global service teams were able to collaborate to resolve an issue with a particular piece of equipment. Had that asset not been “social” the issue might not have been discovered until long after the fact: The epitome of using M2M, in my opinion.

So I guess the lesson here is proceed with caution when it comes to using social with M2M. Or I guess in order to be more relevant in the social world I should simply say: #proceedwithcaution

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