At the Enterprise 2.0 conference this morning, three keynote speakers (from industry) used the term “Social Business” instead of Enterprise 2.0. This prompted discussion around whether this is a new trend. Will next year’s conference be called “Social Business Conference?” Maybe it should be.
Rawn Shaw asks “Is The Enterprise Really Transforming Into A Social Business?” A lot of people think it is, but how to prove the ROI? Mike Gotta from Cisco made a popular tweet asking rhetorically: “If we can’t determine the ROI of email, should we stop using it?” Main barrier to social use in the enterprise is fear. (Huh? Management fears that workers will learn too much?) Most executives experience social software as something their kids do when they are supposed to be doing their homework. Yet, here is a sober tweet: “I’ve never met a company that failed because their employees were *over-empowered*”.
Lots of excitement. Loved the keynote from Richard Boly, Director of the Office of eDiplomacy, United States Department of State. He gave a view of an amazingly progressive state department use of collaboration technology, with multiple blogs and wikis to support various functions, all integrated with a common user profile support. This is not your grandfather’s government. (Also his presentation was done on the uber-cool Prezi.com — very effective.)
Elsewhere Tom Davenport has a great blog post “Want Value From Social? Add Structure“. This coincides with a theme I have been following recently, that social software as realized by the likes of Facebook, will not by itself provide value inside the enterprise. Instead there needs to be strong support for document management, and there needs to be a way to declare, share, and track progress against goals. Davenport eloquently makes the case that projects and tasks needs to be a fundamental part of an Enterprise Social offering.
What is really interesting, is viewing that task merely as a way of structuring social interaction. A project is a high level structure, a milestone in the mid level, and the task is the low level structure. Viewing the task as a context for interaction will seem very foreign to those who view a task a something that “transforms inputs into outputs.”
Don’t miss “Everything I know about being a social business, I learned in kindergarten.” Fun read. More later.
UPDATE: on Nov 10, Andrew McAfee came up with this post on the subject: ‘Social Business’ is Past Retirement Age.