Should Enterprise software be like Facebook? That’s a question Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff recently raised. While reading Dennis Howlett’s analysis, Dennis makes a very simple but easy-to-overlook point about the difference between instant media and real-time media. It’s an important point, one I believe gets lost in the noise and hype about social media.
One of my main focuses is health care adoption and employment of software for improving collaboration and communication among patients and doctors and nurses. It’s important, therefore, to understand the property differences between media and the different contexts, conditions and processes needed for successful deployment. What works for consumers (Facebook) doesn’t necessarily work for business.
One of the properties of media like Twitter and Facebook has to do with time. Twitter and Facebook statuses are instant (at least when there are not server errors). Instant is exactly that: immediate, without regard to relevance. Real-time, however, has to do with relevance. In an enterprise, what matters are information flows – and without context and relevance, information is just data.
Real-time is more than just anytime (which is what instant is) – I need the right information delivered at the right time within the right context throughout the right process.
This distinction between instant and real-time is critical because any software developed must take into account the purposes and needs and contexts in order to ensure proper user experience and appropriate results.
So no: I don’t believe Enterprise software should be designed like Facebook. It follows then, that any software designed for patients and hospitals and doctors and nurses must not confuse themselves with consumer applications.
BUILD IT RIGHT AND SPEAK CLEARLY
Therefore, any healthcare enterprise analogues of media like Twitter, must take into account the difference between instant and real-time. The applications must take into account the sociological and informational needs of clinical processes. Otherwise, disaster is certainly built-in.
Software lock-in is a huge problem in technology. I fear that philosophical lock-in of social media philosophy may be one our time’s greatest threats. (As an illustration of what I mean, the Privacy Is Dead mantra is, I fear, just one self-fulfilling instance of social media fallacy – it’s one of the most dangerous myths propounded and accepted by superficial thinking these days – it’s a dangerous mind-virus.)
We need a clear language when discussing technology – especially media technologies. Confusing instant with real-time is sloppy thinking. In a health care context, it’s downright dangerous.
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