Bas Reus' quest on self-organization and online collaborative spaces

Social software, out or in?

Posted in online collaborative spaces, self-organization by Bas Reus on July 13, 2009

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.

ConnectionsSo 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?


6 Responses

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  1. susan scrupski said, on July 13, 2009 at 19:35

    Greetings from the US. You’ll find more and more large enterprises integrating external social network data as time progresses. Everyone is jumping on the adoption curve at different speeds and within a variety of comfort levels. The good news is they all share one common characteristic: everyone is still an early adopter.

  2. Bas Reus said, on July 13, 2009 at 23:04

    Hi Susan. You’re right about integrating external social network data. What do you think about the other way around?

  3. Ante said, on July 13, 2009 at 21:41

    i have been working to create self-organizing team more than 20 years. It wil be my pleasure to share it with you. Specially i would like to mention bailout where financial mafia misused honest citizens to prolong their i clear?

  4. susan scrupski said, on July 13, 2009 at 23:09

    Do you mean feeding intranet/private social network data into a public social site? That’s interesting. I have seen examples where this can be made possible via gadgets. One that comes to mind is Worklight.

  5. Bas Reus said, on July 13, 2009 at 23:24

    Yes that’s what I mean. Indeed interesting, maybe even inevitable? Maybe too soon now for the most enterprises, but personal and professional are more mixed nowadays and there is of course more knowledge outside than inside. But you have to be careful what you would ‘leak’ and what not.

    Thanks for the link!

  6. sourcepov said, on October 17, 2009 at 10:33

    This is a very important topic but you’re right, unfortunately, social media in the corporate setting (Enterprise 2.0) is going to get slow adoption.

    I think the biggest hurdle (in the US at least, and perhaps in Western society) is that management culture and training are based on industrial optimization. To produce maximum profit requires standardization and minimal variance. Makes sense if you’re mass producing widgets. But it doesn’t mean organizations (or schools, for that matter) should be run like the machines on the factory floor. People aren’t machines. Creativity, collaboration and, ultimately, innovation, get shut down when industrial “control” principles are applied with a broad brush. Social media can help address this – over time, but the culture of control has to change first .. company by company, industry by industry.

    There is an important caveat though for business, having to do with intellectual property, legal compliance for privacy (eg., HIPAA) and the need for firewalls. Security and data privacy will be an important aspect of the Enterprise 2.0 solution. Unfortunately, it is likely to prevent an “open share with the outside world” model that you ask for above.

    We just need to work to find a compromise.

    I have lots (and lots) of energy on Enterprise 2.0. Would be happy to engage on this topic further at any time.

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