Social software, out or in?
Enterprise 2.0 is a hot topic and is getting hotter every day. Since Google announced Wave lately, the topic is almost melting. Personally, I think enterprise 2.0 is quite misleading. Of course, the word enterprise is by itself misleading. Enter, or ‘in between’, and prise, that comes from ‘to take’ together forms ‘to take what is in between’. Not a very social meaning if you ask me. Especially when you think that Enterprise 2.0 is often referring to using social tools inside the firm, like on intranets. But ok, I’ll accept the term ‘Enterprise 2.0’ because it is becoming so well known and broadly used and that’s how language shapes itself.
So back to the problem I have with the term. Social software used within the firm is becoming more mainstream. Many software vendors have solutions for this like Microsoft Sharepoint, Telligent Community Server and IBM/Lotus Connections. Many others have custom made solutions. But they all have one thing in common, their purpose is to enable employees to work together more efficient bymaking collaboration, communication and sharing possible on their intranets. The latter part is where I have a problem with. How social is it when you can only be social with your colleagues? People are more and more familiar with social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. This is another world compared to the closed intranets. That’s right, closed. How social is that?
My point is that the usage of social software on intranets (and extranets) is a very good development, but why is it still closed? Why isn’t it more integrated with the open networks like Facebook? The lives of the employees that make use of products like Sharepoint reach further than that, especcially on the web. For many people the distinction between work and their personal lives is getting less evident. Employees can communicate with friends or likeminded people through e-mail and social networks, even during working hours, why not through the Enterprise 2.0 solutions? Shouldn’t the social networks be more interrelated, inside and outside the company? Wouldn’t that be more productive?
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