Thursday, January 13, 2011

The pendulum swings again with Social Business

Over my 25 year career in large corporations, I've seen the pendulum swing in many areas.  I remember 'dumb terminals' on my desk driven from mainframe computers ... wow, I must be old :-).   The pendulum swung completely in the other direction to an individual workstation solution.  While this had some benefits (allowing customization), it certainly had some drawbacks as well (challenge of security, sharing common documents).  With this new era of social business and cloud computing, I see the pendulum swinging back once again.  People are realizing that there is some value to centralization for certain areas.  Cloud computing has many of the attributes of mainframe technologies, with social computing capabilities enabling easy collaboration across team members.

The pendulum effect has come to mind as I think about one of my current focus areas:  Social Intelligence.  In large enterprises, it's common to have individuals and business units create social listening and action plans based on their specific goals.  With the availability of free web capabilities, it's difficult to control.  While there are benefits to having individuals participate, they are missing out on common linkages between data .  In this new era, there is significant value in the intersection of information.  It's the age-old struggle between individual control and the benefit of the common good.  The challenge for organizations is to provide technology that enables individual customization of a common set of data.  Users are demanding it.   I agree with many of the insights in a recent blog post:  From Community Management to Command Centers.  Companies need to figure out how to effectively engage conversations in real time, encourage individual employee participation ... all while assuring that these actives are connected and leveraged across the enterprise.  It's the next real challenge!


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