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.

…and

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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9 Comments
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9 comments
Emanuele Quintarelli
Emanuele Quintarelli

Hi Sameer, you know I'm 100% in agreement with you on socializing business context and embedding collaboration into the flow of productive activity.  While this is one of the most important lessons we have learned after the end of the first part of Social Business, yet this is not the entire picture.  I tried to elaborate at bit on this here (http://www.socialenterprise.it/en/index.php/2011/10/16/socializing-the-extended-value-chain/). What the post suggests is that there are different kinds of valuable social activities. Not all of them are (or should be) strictly connected to formal processes. Different levels of social activities show different properties (for example levels of measurability). Think for example about communities of practice. Even if it looks like old school KM, it is not. CoP are very effective ways to co-create and circulate professional expertise across geographies between people with a common background. Collaborative problem solving and expertise location has an amazing value in many industri. This use case is not strictly aligned to formal processes and yet has huge measurable value. I can point to specific case studies such the one of ENI (oil& gas) saving millions this way. It's great to be focusing on what matters. Just avoid throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Mike Kennedy
Mike Kennedy

Well said, Sameer. Enterprise social networking is about connection, that leads to greater performance. This means knowing how to best collaborate with colleagues you've never met before and other customizations. Once enterprise social technologies has these customizations -driven by analytics- the value prop of social to the business will go through the roof.

Sameer Patel
Sameer Patel

Dude, this is social. The right response should have been A-Team. :p

Sameer Patel
Sameer Patel

Thanks Emanuele. Hence I wrote that you can't put a price on the value of connected enterprises

Sameer Patel
Sameer Patel

Nicely said. That's the grown up version of the value of social that you described in the last sentence. We've been so subsumed in the relationship aspects that we forget about the full experience required. Thanks for the comment.

Sameer Patel
Sameer Patel

Yeah were only getting started. And our dedicated #socbiz community will get this right. This I am sure of. Thx.

Sameer Patel
Sameer Patel

Yeah we're only getting started. And our dedicated #socbiz community will get this right. This I am sure of. Thx.

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