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How Social Computing is Redefining Modern IT May 8, 2013

Posted by karlkaluzny in Modern IT.

How Social Computing is Redefining Modern IT

Modern IT is the term that has been used recently to describe the new IT organization which has changed drastically over the past few years and is continually changing.  The changes in IT have come in two different areas.  The more obvious of the two would be the drastic advancements in technology seen over the past several years.  The adoption of cloud computing, emergence of big data, and advancements in analytic tools are prime examples of technological advancements.  These technological advancements have in turn driven the second area of change in IT, which are the increasing roles and responsibilities within the organization.  The importance of technological efficiency has become so great to the success of an organization that it has positioned IT executives to take on a much larger and different role with regards to the direction of the organization.

More specifically, the emergence of Social Computing has played a crucial in redefining Modern IT.  This paper discusses what Social Computing is, where it is going, and gives three practical applications of Social Computing today.

Social Computing is the reaction to and the harnessing of, by businesses, the evolving social aspect of our culture.  The culture in which we live today, can be described as one which is “bent on communicating 24/7”[1].  This mentality along with the explosion of social media, has caused two events to happen.  The first is an explosion of freely available information.  Websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provide an outlet for people to voice opinion easily and publically.  Social Computing involves leveraging this data for the purpose of the organization.  The second event is the harnessing of social media for increased efficiency of employees.  Companies can use social media to facilitate collaboration between its employees, thus allowing communication where it may not have been available before.

Over the past few years, social computing has become much more prominent throughout businesses.  However the adoption of social media into the business climate has presented some challenges as opposed to the ease with which it was adopted into the social climate.  The paper titled “On Adoption of Social Computing in the Engineering Community” by Sigal Louchheim and Sally Price discuss the opportunities created by engineering groups when they adopt social computing [4].  Additionally, the paper discusses several barriers to the adoption of social computing in the engineering community along with suggestions for overcoming these barriers.

The emergence of social media has generated mass amounts of data which historically has not been available.  This is turn has created opportunities for Social Computing which previously did not exist.  A prime example of this can be found in the article titled “Twitter as a Corpus for Sentiment Analysis and Opinion Mining” by Alexander Pak and Patrick Paroubek[2].  The article describes a method for using data from Twitter for the purpose of opinion mining and sentiment analysis.  The model searches each post for sequences of text characters which are deemed to be positive, or negative.  For example, the characters “:-)” would be associated with positive sentiment and the characters “:-(“ would be associated with negative sentiment.  Once a post has been sorted into positive or negative sentiment, the content of the post can be analyzed and presented to companies to use for business purposes.

A second example of an application of Social Computing can be seen at IBM[3].  IBM created a customized internal social networking tool to be used by its employees.  The tool allows employees to post innovative ideas and comment upon posted ideas.  The tool has been created by IBM, which means that it has been customized to fit IBM’s particular industry and employees.  Additionally, the tool provides an infrastructure of communication not only between internal employees, but also with outside partners and customers.  The positive effects of the tool are apparent.  Since 2005, the social networking tool has seen 160,000 users, 18,000 ideas, and 350 of those ideas adopted.  These adopted ideas have had a $500 million dollar impact on the business.

In addition to Social Computing, several other themes and how they impacted Modern IT were discussed this semester.  These other themes include Big Data, Analytics, Mobile Computing, Corporate Culture, and Cloud Computing.  It was observed that Modern IT can be described as the convergence and collaboration of each of these themes.  Each of the other themes can be shown to have in some way supplemented Social Computing in the creation of Modern IT.

For example, Big Data, Social Computing, and Analytics naturally supplement each other.  The widespread use of social media has suddenly created a huge amount of data.  In turn, new analytics need to be implemented in order handle this Big Data.  In the article titled “How Big Data analytics is set to transform social computing” by Vishnu Bhat, it is stated that “Big Data is the biggest force in social network analysis and content analytics, and therefore a principal focus of investment for enterprises”[5].

The explosion of Mobile Computing also has impacted Social Computing.  Today it is common for users to access social media networks on mobile devices.  Additionally, the use of mobile devices is becoming more common for businesses.  According to a prediction by Saugatuck Technology, “…the single greatest driver in IT and business organization and operation change will be Mobility…”[6].  The widespread use of mobile devices will certainly increase the amount of data made available for Social Computing.

Modern IT has also brought about a major change in corporate culture.  This change in corporate culture is best exemplified by the change in the role and responsibilities of the CIO.  Historically, the CIO has only been concerned with maintaining the technological infrastructure of an organization.  Because the use of technology has become integral to the success of an organization, the CIO has evolved from simply a technological expert, to more of a leadership role.  The CIO now has a direct influence on the direction of the organization.  In the paper titled “The New CIO: From Technician To Business Strategist And The Implications For E-Commerce” by Dr. Andres Fortino[7], the top ten skills and knowledge of the new CIO are given.  Each of the skills are related to more of an innovation and leadership type of mentality.  This new mentality has paved the way for increased use of social computing within organizations.

Social Computing and Cloud Computing can also work together in an interesting way.  It is possible to use a social network, for example a private social network of an organization, to determine users of a private cloud[8].  In this way, only members of a certain social network would have access to the data on the cloud.

In conclusion, Social Computing, along with several other themes have converged to form the definition of the new Modern IT.


[1] Grubb, Tom. “Modern IT is Here to Stay – Embrace it or be Left Behind”, “Defining Modern IT” ebook.

[2] Alexander Pak and Patrick Paroubek, Twitter as a Corpus for Sentiment Analysis and Opinion Mining, online document available at http://deepthoughtinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Twitter-as-a-Corpus-for-Sentiment-Analysis-and-Opinion-Mining.pdf on February 25, 2013

[3] Kaczmarek, Thomas, “Corporate Social Networking,” Professional Seminar/Computing, Marquette University

[4] Louchheim, Sigal and Price, Salley, “On Adoption of Social Computing in the Engineering Community”, Intel Corporation, Folsom, CA.

[5] Bhat, Vishnu, “How Big Data Analytics is Set to Transform Social Computing,” Infosys Limited, accessed at http://www.techgig.com/readnews.php?category=Top+Tech+News&tgnews_link=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.banktechindia.com%2Fnews%2F13-02-13%2FHow_Big_Data_analytics_is_set_to_transform_social_computing.aspx&tg_type=rss&tgnews_id=36935

[6] West, Mike, “Ten Emergent Trends and Planning Positions for the 2013 Boundary-free Enterprise™”, Saugatuck Technology, accessed at http://saugatucktechnology.com/blog/entry/1150ra-looking-back-and-forth-ten-emergent-trends-and-planning-positions-for-the-2013-boundary-free-enterprise.html

[7] Fortino, A. “The New CIO: From Technician To Business Strategist And The Implications For E-Commerce“ e-Business Engineering, 2008. ICEBE ’08. IEEE International Conference on Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/ICEBE.2008.67 Publication Year: 2008 , Page(s): 139               – 146

[8] “The Imminent Rise of Social Cloud Computing”, MIT Technology Review, December 14, 2011, accessed at http://www.technologyreview.com/view/426360/the-imminent-rise-of-social-cloud-computing/




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