Cloud Computing – SaaS Solutions by SAP ERP

SAP ERP Cloud Computing – SaaS Solutions

SAP is the world’s largest used enterprise resource planning solution that provides solutions for business process automation based on industry best practice standards. Given the IT service industry shift from Shared Services to Utility based ICT services, SAP has come up with two suite of SaaS solutions.

SAP Business By Design

SAP Business by design is focused on providing large organization’s subsidiaries and small & medium enterprises a full application suite that can help automate their idea to market, market to order and order to cash business processes while still paying based on usage instead of huge deployment costs. It gives them flexibility to configure functionality they need including Analytics and reporting that complete the full suite.

SAP Business One Cloud

SAP Business One Cloud is focused on providing small organization’s an application suite that can help automate their marketing, sales, delivery and service processes while still paying a low fees based on usage instead of huge ICT costs. The suite is preconfigured and ready to use for small size organisations. Being a cloud based solution it allows small businesses to become flexible and IT ready while giving them scalability to ramp up usage based on need.

CONCLUSION

Cloud Computing has started in past decade as a natural transition from ICT Shared Services to ICT Utility based services. The use, need and availability of Internet has made ICT traditional services transition to Cloud Computing service even more faster.

Cloud Computing Service benefits are now out weighing the issues faced and most the issues faced are by and large overcome by service providers. Cloud computing services are being adopted by most organisations and the adoption continues to increase every year.

Its clear that cloud computing services and specially SaaS solutions would continue to grow as this allows the organisations to become agile in adopting new solutions while reducing ICT investments and paying for use only.

The existing SAP ERP SaaS solutions are targeting and meant for use by SMEs and Smaller organisations.  SAP has to look into how it can create an offering for even the large size organisations traditional SAP ERP solution to SaaS SAP ERP solution. Delay in doing so could result in lost opportunity e.g. in saleforce.com is a fast growing SaaS offering for CRM solutions and many organisations are adopting it.

Lastly Cloud Computing Services open a vast opportunity for service providers to build and offer new internet based services and solutions that can help organisations achieve their goals.

Software as a Service (SaaS) Service Model – Benefits and Issues

Benefits of SaaS Service Model

Cloud Computing SaaS Model offers the full stack of ICT service and full stack means it delivers an IT Solution for the organisation. The key benefits of SaaS service model can be listed as follows,

  1. One Standard Solution: SaaS solutions are made using industry standard best practice business processes for making them adaptable and fit for entire industry. The SaaS solution offering is standard and available across the whole organisation for use based on needs. This gives the organisation real time usage across the world and more importantly saving ICT costs of duplicate or different solution at different locations.
  2. Self Service Model: SaaS solution offering works on self-service model where by the business users can choose and pick the services options they need. The solution support issues are also self-service based making the business users to check and receive support from one central support.
  3. Pay for Use: SaaS solution offering allows organisations to pay for use, it means organisation do not incur or worry about ICT additional costs as they pay only for number of users using the specific service(s).
  4. Reduced Costs: SaaS solution offering allows organisations to reduce their ICT capital expenditure costs as the solution is ready to use and minimal to no upfront investment required to start using the SaaS solution. On the other hand as there is no ICT Infrastructure and other components ownership, the organisation only incurs the usage costs and has ease of ramp up and ramp down usage, thus allowing higher flexibility.
  5. Faster Time to Market: SaaS solution offering reduces the time for preparation and deployment to the lowest possible as the solution is available for use and requires minimum configuration, setup and user training time to start using the solution. As the whole organisation uses only one solution any changes or new functionality can be also introduced in one go to the whole organisation.
  6. Standard Interfacing: SaaS solution offerings are used by multiple organisations so these are made using industry standard best practices processes and ICT standard for cross system communications and message exchanges. This makes organisations to connect with their customers and consumers in a standard and easy to use way.

Issues of SaaS Service Model

Cloud computing and SaaS service offering by service providers is still evolving. The key issues of SaaS service model can be listed as follows,

  1. Security: Security is the key concern for all organisations that think of SaaS Service adoption. This emerges from the fact that everyday unsecured internet sites and at times even the highly secured internet sites are hacked and data is stolen. SaaS service offerings are internet based and concerns organisations have is about securing their identity and organisation data.
  2. Standards: Cloud computing and SaaS offerings are still evolving and along with them the standards for such services are also still evolving. Type of clouds and mashing of multiple providers e.g. SalesForce.com offering Saas Channel CRM solution while using Amazon IaaS / PaaS service to host it.
  3. Big Data: Data Management is a growing concern for all organisations and its specially an issue for SaaS service solution as the organisation does not own any solution component and pays only of usage of the services. The concern is how the data captured can be stored in organisations data warehouse with ensuring that the data is encrypted while exchange and securely stored as well as usable for generate reports and insights required for decision making.
  4. Change: While adoption of SaaS service is fairly simple, the concern and issue is of switching from one SaaS solution to other and how the transition as well as underlying information exchange from one vendor to another vendor to be handled.
  5. Strategy and Governance: For Cloud Computing Service adoption organisations must have a clear strategy and governance structure and processes. Strategy will help identify in what areas what types of cloud services can be adopted while governance will help ensure clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, compliance and risks.

Cloud Computing Service Evolution and Predictions

Cloud computing is opening doors for businesses and organisations to have IT services available as utility service with predictable cost and quality as per customer needs and pay for use models while still allowing flexibility of needs based selection of SaaS, PaaS, IaaS service and its components.

IT is becoming an essential part of companies DNA and Fabric as organisations realize that ICT services and solutions will give them a competitive edge to achieve their growth using real time information and insights as well as making products and services available using digital presence. Organisations are awakening and becoming to redefine their strategies to become a real time company, at the core of this is IT but now its not just another IT project but a business transformation enabled with word class IT solutions and services.

In most organisations ICT services are already served as Shared Service Model for past decade and organisations have become mature in having ICT services delivered using shared service model. The move from Shared Service Model towards Cloud Computing is a natural progression where organisations go from Shared Services to Utility Services model.

Internet and the need for doing things online and real time is now well embedded in most organisations as well as consumers. This is leading towards having ICT services being available through internet around the clock and in a secured manner. Could Computing Services and Service Model is fulfilling this need.

Forrester Research white paper of he Evolution Of Cloud Computing Markets” of july 2010 shows that organisations are spending around USD 2.4 Trillion for ICT services. Cloud computing is opening up a new space where the organisations will transition towards. A big part of the overall ICT spending would be moving towards cloud computing services. A macro shift of services already began from year 2009 and its expected to grow rapidly in coming year.

The report from delloite consulting of year 2009 suggests that cloud computing services would grow to the size of USD 1 Trillion in current decade and would continue to grow further. Cloud Services offerings from major players like Microsoft – Office 360, Azure and SAP – Business By Design and Business One Cloud and Amazon EC2 and S3 will lead the transition of Traditional ICT services and solutions to Cloud SaaS, PaaS and IaaS services.

Cloud Computing Services are on number 4 position of IDC’s Top 10 Predictions report of 2012. IDC report suggests that Spending on public and private cloud services, and the building of those services (the “cloud arms dealer” opportunity), will reach USD $60 billion. Amazon will join the $1 billion IT vendor club, and the strategic focus in the cloud will shift from infrastructure to application platforms and the race to build the largest portfolios and ecosystems around those platforms.

Cloud Computing Basics

The term cloud computing came in existence is last decade while the concept and types of cloud computing services existed in one or the other form for past two decades. The name cloud computing is given to specify that organisations don’t have to worry about where there IT Infrastructure and Application Software are hosted, instead organisations can focus on the IT services they need to meet their fast changing customer requirements.

In past three decades business process automation has gone to the extent that IT has become a key part of all business transformation initiatives to help automate and enable the organisations to achieve their goals. IT services are more and more seen similar to utility services that are reliable, scalable and paid by usage. Cloud computing is also focusing on provide IT services as utility while keeping in mind that utility service needs vary from organisation to organisation. E.g. The power supply and water are the generic utility services and full fill basic need of electricity and water for the customer. But as the need for customer varies so the utility services vary and accordingly the service costs. The need of an industrial organisation is different to the need of an individual customer.

Cloud Computing focuses on providing IT services as utility services and has three types of service offerings which are briefly explained below,

SaaS – Software as a Service : SaaS offering covers the full stack of IT from the hardware all the way up to the software application service. The service is focused on pay for use and generally operates on the pay per use based on number of users and duration of use. E.g. Microsoft Office 360 costs $30 per user per month for online office application software usage.

PaaS – Platform as a Service: PaaS offering covers the IT stack up to providing a platform that business can use to build / manager their own applications. This service is also focused on pay for use and operates based on type of platform and number of applications to be run on the platform as well as any value added service additions. E.g. A company offering PHP and My SQL platform that can be used by organisations to build and host their own applications.

IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service: IaaS offering covers the IT stack upto the Infrastructure layer, in simple words up to Operating System level. The service is also focused on pay for use and operates based Infrastructure usage like hardware and storage. E.g. Hosting providers like Rackspace, Amazon and T-systems offering standardized, virtualized and secured infrastructure hosting that individuals as well as organisations can use for hosting their application platform and application software solution.

Business Process Management, Process Maturity Model and Implementation

Introduction

The businesses are required to continuously change and improve to meet their customer needs and to achieve their goals. For any organisation to be able to achieve growth one of the important criteria is to have a solid operational excellence for effective and efficient operations management. For operational excellence and growth, organisations have to have clearly defined ways of working and full visibility of end to end business process value chains. The term end to end means clear visibility of Idea to Market, Market to Order and Order to Cash processes and supporting internal processes for HR, Legal, Finance and IT departments.

On one hand the organisations are under pressure to remain agile and flexible for adapting change while on the other hand for operational excellence it’s important to have a structured way of working and execution to be able to achieve the results with required level of quality. Organisations have to identify business areas that are their unique competitive advantage Vs business areas that are industry best practice standard and can be kept compliant with industry best practice standards.

For achieving the standard and structured business processes and their compliance, a framework and process maturity model is essential. The framework and process maturity model will help in identifying, implementing and continuously improve the organisations business processes.

Overview of Business Process Management

Business process management as the name suggests focuses on end to end activities involved in managing business processes. This starts from business process requirement definition, design, deployment and post deployment monitoring and control followed by continuous improvement.

Although most organisation have business process management done using one or the other method, the challenge is to ensure that its tailored to meet the real needs of the organisation. Starting and implementing business process management initiative requires time, efforts and commitment from all levels of the organisation especially from the management team. These initiatives involves multiple departments and so are executed as business transformation program instead of just one department making steps for business process management. It is also essential that such initiatives are done first time right as failure could lead to high business impact especially in the area of operational excellence.

Business Process Maturity Model

For effective business process management implementation as well as continued monitoring and control post implementation, it’s essential for organisations to use either market standard or own business process maturity model. A business process maturity model allows organisation to check their current maturity level / state of respective business process. This not just help in identifying but also defining improvement actions that would help strengthen the process maturity level. It also helps the organisation in identifying and ear marking the business processes where they need high level of maturity Vs. those where they can live with a slightly lower level of maturity.

Over past decade as more organisations realize the need for effective business process management; many maturity models have come to existence. However, only few are successful and used widely, namely Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) and Business Process Management Maturity Model (BPMM).

One of the most widely used models is Capability Maturity Model also known as CMM developed by software engineering institute at Carnegie Mellon University. It came in existence in year 1989 and was shaped as a maturity assessment model in year 1993. During past 15 years it further evolved and become broader and being used in different areas of an organisation from IT to People to Product and Services. This maturity model helps organisation evaluate the business process maturity on 5 levels named as Initial, Managed, Standardized, Predictable and Innovating. The organisation can measure their process maturity against each process area at various levels and decide to take up best practices specified.

The other widely used model is Business Process Management Maturity Model (BPMM) developed by Object Management Group (OMG). It came in existence in year 2007 and is based on Humphrey’s Process Maturity Framework and CMM. This maturity model helps organisation evaluate the business process maturity on 5 levels named as Initial, Repeatable, Defined, Managed and Optimized. The organisation can measure their process maturity by answering the standard questions with evidences for each level of maturity.

After words

Business process management is essential and important for all organisations. In this era of change its important that business processes are standardized and optimized for use. Its even more important to differentiate the amount of efforts and time that need to be spent in specific business areas in standardizing. This allows one end for organisation to use best practice standards and on the other end help them measure and continuously improve the business process management within the organisation. From the review of this paper following are the key points to note,

- Depending on the size of the organisation the approach used for BPM Implementation can vary

- For Large multi-national organisation, business process management initiative must be run as business transformation program

- The program must have support for organisation management team and must be ready for required governance and culture change

- The execution must be planned based prioritized end to end business process value chains with highest priority for processes adding direct value to business growth

- Post implementation for ongoing improvement, a robust process maturity model must be adapted and put to use through the organisations business process management organisation

- Industry standard business processes in the area of support departments must be adapted using industry standards and tools

- BPM implementation and process standardization lead to application rationalizations and lower IT costs for the organisation

Looking forward the business processes management will continue to get stronger and standard. For all organisations to be able to do business in effective and efficient manner, it is necessary to have a strong BPM implementation. BPM is further evolving where organisations are faced with Agile and Lean concepts which required organization’s business processes to be equally agile and lean. Agility is important for faster change while Lean supports the organisation in faster adaption of change.

ERP Systems and Social Media – Mobile Communications

For most organisations, IT architecture and backbone is an important aspect for enabling the business. One of the important part of the backbone are ERP systems of the organisation that automate and connect organisation business processes end to end to deliver seamless service towards its consumers and customers. ERP systems are starting to move towards integrating and making their offering social media and mobile communication enabled. There is still lots of space for them improve and become truly social media and mobile communication enabled.

SAP ERP Systems are already offering numerous mobile applications that help the organisation workforce to become more productive using the power of integrated social network for real time data exchange. The area of CRM – customer relationship management is having most of the touch points towards the consumer and customers, SAP ERP Systems have still room to improve their integration with Facebook, Twitter type of social media platforms. In this same space SalesForce.com is offering real time online integration where marketing, sales and service modules have tight social media integration to engage consumers and customers. There is still room for improvement on integrating the campaigns, promotions and contests linkage of ERP Systems and Social Media sites hosting these events. Currently most of the ERP systems offer mobile communication and social media integration for the organisation users through their mobile application solutions. There is a still lot to be done for tighter engagement of consumer and customers through social media and mobile communication platform using ERP Systems as the backbone. Important still is to note that ERP Systems solution providers are working on this and in doing so the first step most of them have taken is to make their solutions real time available using internet and cloud hosting platforms. In coming years more improved solutions would come forward.

This decade and era is a real time business era that is pushing organisations to become real time as well as opening new doors of business using social media platforms. Many organisations have embarked on this. For achieving real success and business growth through social media, it’s important that organisations take phased approach to slowly ramp up their social media presence. This needs to be carefully handled through organisation execution strategy to address how social media and mobile communications platform can help them internally as an organisation as well as externally towards its stakeholder, customers and consumers.

Social Media and Mobile Communications help an organisation to grow internally as well as externally, it can be integrated with the organization’s end to end value chain from idea to market to market to order and order to cash functions. Most impact for engaging consumers and customers can be seen in market to order functions especially in customer relationship management area that comprises of marketing, sales and service.

Social Media and Mobile Communication Solutions and Platforms have evolved and improved a lot in past one decade. The evolution of social media and mobile communication platform integration with ERP systems is still evolving and some progress can be already seen with move towards cloud hosting and mobile applications coming to life with inbuilt integration with social media platforms. The evolution continues and would become even more real time and tightly integrated in coming years.

Use of Mobile Communications and Social media – Organisation Change

Organisation Change

For successful presence and use of Social Media and Mobile Communications platform the organisation must start with their vision and execution strategy. It’s important that the use of social media for organisation growth is clearly underpinned as per part the execution strategy. It starts with having clear social media policy for internal as well as external stakeholders including clarity on what’s allowed and not allowed. The next step after policy is to have social media usage guides available for internal as well as external networks. As social media operates 24×7 using virtual network it’s essential to monitor and control the publications and remarks. Many of these would require senior leadership comments and so it’s highly important the organization’s management team is having clear understanding, owning and support for the initiative. The publications must be clearly reviewed and simple, honest and true communications should be made. Launching, handling and archiving of campaigns, contests and promotions must be handled properly. The initiatives must have clear performance indicators that would give insights on what needs be to achieved, why and how far is the organisation in achieving this. Lastly this would need investment in right resources with skills and capabilities for managing organization’s social media presence. Resources required would in IT, Marketing, Sales and Service teams. This needs to be supported by management and Human Resources team.

Use of Mobile Communications and Social media – Benefits for Organisation

Social Media and Mobile Communications Benefits for Organisation

Social Media and Mobile Communications can help organisations in multiple areas especially in idea to market and market to order functional areas as well as in overall organization’s growth objectives. Let’s go through various areas to understand how social media and mobile communications benefits in those areas,

Idea to Market

Idea to market area covers the business functions related to research, innovation, and product creation. As the name suggests it looks into functions that help an organisation is bringing new products and services to customers and consumers.

Research

Research requires organisations to understand problems and issues faced by the customers and consumers and develop new products and services that can help provide solution to the problems and issues.

Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be used for studying and collecting information on problems and issues faced by customers and consumers. This when combined with market intelligence data, will help create value proposition for an organizations’ future direction as well as products and services. The social media and mobile communication platform can be used internally in an organisation to create an online community / network forum of researchers and business stakeholders for effective collaboration and communication.

Innovation

The next step of research is innovation where the organisation develops or acquires the capabilities required for new products and services to meet the needs of customers and consumers. Innovation involves idea generation, new product prototypes creation and testing.

Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be effectively used for idea generation and comments from customers and consumers. The platforms can also be used for improving brand image by flashing innovations and selecting some online customers and consumers to test and improve the new innovation prototypes. The social media and mobile communication platform can be used internally in an organisation to create an online community / network forum of researchers and business stakeholders for effective collaboration and communication. The platform can also be used to share the innovation with company employees and staff to get their first hand comments and involve some of them in prototype testing and improvements.

Product and Service Creation

The next step from innovation is product and service creation. This is done when the innovation is confirmed by business stakeholders and marked as ready to be mass produced as a product or made available as a service.

Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be of little help during this stage. The social media and mobile communication platform can be used internally in an organisation to create an online community / network forum for effective collaboration and communication during product creation process steps.

Market to Order

Market to Order area covers the business functions related to marketing, sales and service. As the name suggests it looks into functions that help an organisation in bringing new products and services to customers and consumers, selling the products and services and provide post sale service to consumers. Most of the customer relationship management (CRM) activities are part of market to order function.

Marketing and Sales

Marketing and Sales function in a nutshell is responsible for public relations (PR), product and service launch, campaigns, advertising, contests, promotions, market surveys, order management and sales. Marketing and Sales is one of the important functions that helps generate direct value for the organisation through its products and services. The last step of an effective marketing is to ensure the sell is accomplished. Sales have focus on lead generation and conversion as well as acquisition and retention of customer and consumer base.

The Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be extremely useful for marketing as they are easiest and free platforms through which organisations can do product launch, campaigns, advertising, contests and brand positioning. The platforms help organisations reach and engage not just their current consumers and customers but also potential further consumer and customer base. The platforms can be used for improving companies brand image and public relations. Important though is to ensure the contents published are simple and honest and kept up to date. Also important is to ensure any questions and queries from consumers and customers are dealt with in real time cause failure to do so could bring bad publicity as well. The platforms can also be used for publishing paid online advertising through respective platform owners to have organization’s new product and services shown on relevant pages.

Service

Ones the product is sold the after sales service function comes in play to provide post sale services to consumers and customers based on agreed warranty and guarantee communication of the product and service. The service function of an organisation helps in providing product and services feedback in terms of improvements and issues to get them fixed in next releases, customer and consumer retention through good quality service and support and generating value through extended period warranty sign ups. Service is extremely important as this is the function that helps collect consumer and customer information as part of its product registration function which is now done online for most of the companies and while doing this, companies can easily get consumer and customer agreements to share new products and services with them on periodical basis through email, written and social media platforms. This function also get consumer and customer connect to organization’s online social media community and platforms.

The Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be extremely useful for service function as this function helps bring consumers and customers close to organization’s online presence sites through product / service registration and support. Organisations can them using their contacts as well as part of registration, make them join their social media platforms, bring product launch, promotions and other relevant information to consumers using these platforms. Organisations have also started using Social Media for sharing online product and service usage videos which can be viewed by consumers and able to use the products to their full potential. Many organisations have gone one step ahead and are allowing consumers and customers to share their product usage videos and tips online so that the whole community can learn from each other and become more effective. These services forums are also helping in collecting online product feedback and improvement ideas as well as problems and issues that can help organisation is coming up with new product and services. Organisations are increasingly enabling their services using social media and mobile communication platforms like Facebook and twitter integrated service network that helps provide real time and fast solution to consumers and customers.

Order to Cash

Order to Cash area covers the business functions related to supply chain management and receiving the money from consumers and customers for the products and services marketing, sales and service. As the name suggests it looks into functions that help an organisation in delivering the goods and receiving money for products and services from customers and consumers. Most of the supply chain management (SCM) activities are part of market to order function.

Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management function is a vast and an important function for an organisations operations management. This links to delivery of goods to the customers and consumers. The function largely looks in warehousing, logistics and transportation management activities.

Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be of little help during this stage. The social media and mobile communication platform can be used internally in an organisation to create an online community / network forum for effective collaboration and communication during the whole supply chain management function. The social media and communication platform can also be used for communicating with all the distributors and retailers as well as 3PL partners to effectively collaborate and communicate on shipment and delivery in real time.

Billing

Billing function is the last and important step of collection of money for good delivered to consumers and customers. It involves issuing the invoice to consumers and customers and receiving money for product and services sold. For services this could be one time or recurring yearly money that the organisation receives.

Social Media and Mobile Communication platforms can be of little help during this stage unless the organization’s product and service sales are online and customers are reachable on social media platforms for communications. In cases of online ecommerce sale and services the social media platform can be used to inform the consumer and customer of delivery status and billing status. Although organization’s have not gone this far, it would become reality soon as already when we use PayPal type of service for online payment we receive alert on smart mobile device through their mobile application of payment sent and payment received. This helps organisation to become more real time and faster towards their consumers and customers.

Supporting Functions

Supporting functions in an organisation are Human Resource Management, Information Technology, Finance and Accounting, Legal, Real Estate etc. These functions are essential for an organisation smooth operations management.

The Social Media and Mobile Communication Platform like SocialCast and other equivalent solution providers can help the organisation by providing a place where employees and staff can create meaningful and relevant social community groups/networks. These social communities can help organisations in sharing information, experiences, engagement, team building, innovation, business improvements, best practice sharing and many other internal areas that help an organisation become a world class enterprise for internal as well as external community. The social media platform can help communicate and gather employees views of work culture, products and services and sharing their own story on how the organization’s product and services helping them and their family.

Use of Mobile Communications and Social media – Overview

Overview of Social Media

Social Media in simple words nothing more than a virtual network / group of people who share information and their experiences related to a topic of similar interests. The initiator shares his views or information to which others can agree, disagree and enrich further with their own views by commenting on it. Post internet presence introduction, internet web sites emerged which were used for business as well as information sharing.

The information sharing practice further evolved in social media. In its early form it started with Blog sites and discussion forums where people would publish articles or information and invite other members to review and remarks on it. This led to a powerful idea of using it for the benefits of organisation business to get reviews on products and services of an organisation. Important is to still keep in mind that all forms of social media, first started with and used for information sharing and group discussions related to personal and social information then corporate business.

Another form of social media communication that existed in early 2000 was instant messaging using online internet service. This was used by people to communicate with their near and dear ones using online real time text messaging using computer. This further evolved to become available for group communications and full integration to have real time experience sharing online using social media internet sites.

In past one decade social media platforms became diversified and need focused. Now we can find social media sites and networks that are specific to fulfilling a specific need. Social Media sites/networks at high level can be classified as follows,

  1. Blog: Social Media sites of blog type are used by individuals and organisations to publish and share articles on specific interest area. These blog sites allow users to comment on articles and share their views and experiences. E.g. numerous sites on wordpress.com and googleblog.blogspot.com
  2. Discussion Forums: Social Media sites of Discussion Forum type are used by individual, organisations and e-governments to generate ideas and collect people views and experiences that can potentially be used to solve the problems, come up with new products and services, communicate issues and their intensity. E.g. SAP Forum, Cisco Forum, Apple Forum etc.
  3. Social Networking Sites: Social Media sites of Social Networking type are used by individuals for family and friends bonding plus sharing, organisations for branding, products and services launch plus reviews and e-governments for community boding and sharing. E.g. Facebook, SocialCast, LinkedIn and Plaxo.
  4. Micro Blog: Social Media sites of Micro Blog type are used by individuals and organisations to share short and quick updates about their activities. Micro Blogging is also used for sharing news and faster information broadcasting. E.g. Twitter.
  5. Media Sharing: Social Media sites of Media Sharing type are used by individuals and organisations to share various types of media files like videos and photos. E.g. YouTube.

The Social Media sites mentioned above are some high level examples of famous and highly used social media communications using internet. Important is to take note that many of these are evolving to be able to provide all in one functionality. E.g. Facebook is a social networking site but it allows people to share media and comments as part of its service. It also allows people to share their personal and professional profiles online. Another example is LinkedIn which is a social networking site meant for professional use where individuals and organisations can create their career profile page and connect with each other. The LinkedIn site also allows people to do blogging, micro blogging using twitter, media sharing and comments as part of its service.

Increasingly the Social Media and Networking communication sites are allowing tighter integration services with other types of sites. E.g. Facebook allows integration to share the Media published on You Tube. LinkedIn gives integration with twitter for micro blogging and integration with Facebook etc.

Key Features and Functionalities provided by Social Media sites can be noted as follows,

  1. Blogging – Publishing articles on specific topic
  2. Micro Blogging – Publishing short message broadcasts
  3. Media Sharing – Publishing videos and photos
  4. Discussion Forum – Initiating discussion topic and receiving comments
  5. Survey / Poll – Publishing short survey or poll to get people’s views and remarks
  6. Like / Dislike – Allowing people to like or dislike published social media contents of the publisher
  7. Groups / Circles – Allowing people to create groups and circles of like-minded and related people
  8. Advertising – Allowing organisations to publish paid advertises related to social media content
  9. Subscribe and Alerts – Allowing users to subscribe to a publisher to be able to receive alerts whenever the published has published something on their social media page.

Mobile Communications Explained

Mobile Communications means use of mobile devices for day to day activities and in this context means use of mobile devices for doing social media communications. The need for speed, availability and reach has made mobile devices evolution from a generic telephone to a smart phone device and now even a smart phone tablet device. The smart mobile devices of today’s era are equivalent and in some case even more powerful, fast and feature rich then personal computers (PCs) and laptops.

Mobile devices now have mobile applications that are designed specially to be used on small screen devices with equivalent features that users get on their PCs and laptops. The adoption rate of mobile devices is very high, on one end where the x and y generation are very comfortable using these devices for communications, many of the baby boomers are also picking up faster on use of these devices in their daily life. Mobile devices are used for personal as well as professional needs.

This has led to mobility solutions and organisations having the need to reach masses on their mobile device for selling their products and services. Social Media platforms are having a key role in making organization’s reach to masses easier as most of the users’ smart mobile devices use one or the other social media platform to communicate with their family and friends. Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube have very high usage and reach worldwide. This has opened vast amount of opportunity for organisations to share their innovations, products and services through these platforms as well as for receiving and improving their brand image through likes and comments from users worldwide. This became far easier with Mobile communications as users can access and participate on these virtual social networks round the clock whenever they have little free time. Additionally users having alerts feature on would receive instant alert on newly published social media contents and remarks.

With mobile broadband available on smart mobile devices with 3G and 4G networks having upload and download speeds equivalent to general office network connection, making social media content viewing and replying even more faster and easier.  Mobile communication is the key for high level of success of social media platforms usage. The usage and participation of social media platforms won’t be as high without their availability and use on smart mobile devices either directly or using mobile applications. Smart Mobile Devices have opened a complete new way of reaching and communicating with individuals and organisations. The evolution of possibilities and use is still continuing and we are moving in the direction of communicating in real time 24×7 with each other.

Use of Mobile Communications and Social media – Introduction

INTRODUCTION

It has been close to two decades since internet was born and it’s been 3 decades since computers were born and came in use. We have made leaps and bounds of progress in automating everything around us and utilizing internet to the maximum possible. In computerization we have gone to an extent where our mobile devices are either at par or sometimes even more powerful in capacity then the laptop computer we use at home and work. The use of mobile devices has made the businesses real time; requiring many organisations to think about their use of mobility solutions to help in their organisation growth.

The powerful mobile devices and equally powerful mobile network/broadband services available at hands of regular consumers is making organisations to think about their product and services reach on mobile devices. Consumers are using the power of internet to do real time communication and make their views and needs heard through Social Media sites and mobile applications. Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and many many more are being used to collaborate on wide range of topics including product reviews, word of mouth marketing for a product or brand, product quality and after sales service.

Social Media and its mobile presence is enabling organisations to leverage internal as well as external growth. Internal growth focusing on having company wide social media platform(s) meant to be used by company employees and staff for collaboration, idea generation, best practice sharing, learnings and leveraging the power of peer network. External growth focusing on product launch, product reviews, customer service, pre and post-sales support and community service by use of social media.