Large and mid-sized enterprises have generally tried to roll out Social Enterprise software broadly across their organizations. In the recent ESG Social Enterprise Adoption Trends report, 70% of IT professionals surveyed said they rolled out social communication tools company-wide and 65% said the same for social collaboration tools. This makes sense given the nature of the Social Enterprise. The more end-users that participate, the better the benefits derived from the software.
It’s not enough that everyone have access to these social tools. It’s not enough that users can access the Social Enterprise from their mobile devices. The same social communication and collaboration toolset needs to be accessible from within any application in the enterprise as well as dedicated social applications. The real promise of the Social Enterprise comes to fruition when end-users can access social workflows wherever they encounter the need for them. This desire for widespread access to social tools has led to many Social Enterprise products becoming the basis of a social layer in the enterprise development stack. Just as the data layer, in the form of databases and files systems, are a given in every development stack now, the social layer will be a standard component of the IT toolbox.
But what is the cost of the social layer, the social premium if you will? This is not a trivial question. If the social layer becomes a standard part of the IT landscape it’s a tax every IT organization will have to pay. As it turns out, costs may not be trivial. While some vendors are listing their social platforms for as much as a US$25 per user per month for a cloud deployment, real pricing is lower in volume. In some cases very large installations are only paying a few dollars per user per month. To put that in perspective, that’s about what a consumer would pay for the Pandora music service.
On average though, prices between $5 to $15 per user per month are common for cloud-based subscriptions. At the low end of the scale that’s about $60 a year per user and at the high-end, more like $180 a year per user. Keep in mind, for a social layer to make a difference it has to be made available to all knowledge workers in an organization. For a company of 1,000 users, that’s a premium of US$60,000 to US$180,000 a year. For on-premises social layers, subscriber prices might be lower (although not always) but hardware and support costs would have to factored in. Either way, it’s not insignificant. For a company with 10,000 workers, costs can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There are great benefits to having social tools integrated everywhere but it’s a good idea to keep in mind that there is a premium that must be paid.