Want to make the enterprise social? Learn from Excel.

Tommy Ahlers of Podio at GigaOM 2011Bringing social networking and sharing tools into the enterprise is great, said Podio CEO Tommy Ahlers at GigaOM’s Net:Work conference, but it also can make things really complicated. The biggest issue: Swiss army knives that try to solve problems for an entire industry don’t work very well for end users.

Podio’s solution is to give IT workers the ability to build their own apps. “If they build it themselves, they are going to use it,” Ahlers predicted, adding that there’s already a great precedent for end user-built apps: Excel. People do all kinds of crazy things with spreadsheets to customize them for their needs. Now it’s time to leverage that kind of creativity and make it available within an enterprise. “These things need to get out of the documents,” he said.

Podio’s enterprise social networking product is offering its customers the ability to easily build apps without complicated scripting languages that come with a steep learning curve, explained Ahlers. The company’s users have already built or customized 46,238 apps leveraging the company’s API, and Ahlers predicted that leveraging this kind of creativity will play a huge role for all kinds of enterprise IT solutions. “This is the future of the future of work,” he proclaimed.

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Photo by Pinar Ozger.