Enterprise Social Road to Nowhere. #socbiz

When asked to review tent.io, a new protocol for, in their words, open, decentralized, social networking, Dave Winer writes:

I don’t understand what I’m supposed to weigh in on. Anyone can write a spec. What matters is what software is supporting the protocol, what content is available through it and how compelling is the content.


RSS won not because of its great design, but because there was a significant amount of valuable content flowing through it. Formats and protocols by themselves are meaningless.

Kinda reminds me of enterprise social networking in some ways. We say its about the people but thats just not enough in the business world. Facebook is about people and content, and in the consumer context, that works. You’re motivated to stay connected to friends and share. And as Instagram proved, there are 1.2 bilion reasons why Facebook wanted to own one of the most important contextual social object for sharing on the social web. Hell, Pinterest is all about pinning pictures.
In the enterprise, that motivation to connect takes a lot more. Content, as Dave suggests for protocols, has a place in enterprise social networking. But only when the task context in which its presented is evident does it naturally create a reason to huddle. That context comes from data or an exception/ enrichment in process, or a project / task that needs to get done.  Other wise, people to people connections becomes more like a directory where engagement is optional. And we already have LinkedIn for that.

Dave’s closer applies perfectly to many examples of how Enterprise Social Networking is used.

Think of a protocol like a road. You could have a wonderful road. Well paved. Wide lanes. Great rest areas. But if it goes from nowhere to nowhere, it’s not going to be very popular, no matter how nice it is.

Enterprise Social Networking can have all the bells and whistles: Feeds, Blogs, Screen Sharing, Presence and on and on. Many of these are absolutely critical. And you can’t put a price on well connected enterprises. But if simple engagement metaphors, borne out of contextual applicability is missing, Enterprise Social programs also risk becoming a beautiful road to nowhere.


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