I see lots of criticism towards social business solutions. The argument is that it is the same stuff with a different package. ”Let’s put social in front of our product and it will sell”, is probably the viewpoint that many critics have. I agree.
If you are tired of people preaching that ”social media will change the (business) world”, but don’t see any concrete benefits to your own work then I may understand your reaction. That’s not your fault. Blame your employer and the software vendor. To get benefit from social business your organization and you yourself need a different mindset. I will explain why.
There really is a fundamental difference in how people are working now and 20 or even 10 years ago. Work used to be organized around groups of people in stead of networks. We used to think about projects in stead of communities. Organizations have become much more dynamic and organizational boundaries more fuzzy. Eventhough the theories of the network organization have been around for decades, they are only now slowly becoming a reality because the right mindset and tools are available to make it possible.
All this means that there will be a difference how software solutions are designed to support this new way of thinking about how we organize work. There is a difference between a traditional knowledge management system and social knowledge sharing. Same goes for a traditional project management tool and a social collaboration workspace. Definitely there is a difference between an intranet/extranet and social collaboration environment. Some of the key differences include:
Content vs People: intranet is content focused and pretty much one way traffic from the content creator to the users. A social collaboration environment is designed for people to connect, share, interact and collaborate together towards a common vision.
Team vs Community: our work environment is not limited to the people we work with on a daily basis. We are constantly building a larger community of colleagues, partners and customers. This means we can access knowledge from where ever want, when ever we want.
Unstructured vs Structured: a lot of collaboration is adhoc and unstructured. Social collaboration tools allow you to build networks, define targets and manage the whole process. Eventhough you may feel that your work is getting more complex because you are part of a larger network, it becomes easier to manage if you have the right processes and tools in place.
Unmeasurable vs Measurable: because a lot of work was difficult to structure, for example co-creation and innovation with people you do not work with regularly, results were difficult to control and measure. Social collaboration allows you to define targets and measure your effectiveness and end-results.
Ultimately we want to turn loose collaboration in to goal oriented collaboration that delivers measurable value for the organization. That is the difference and true value of social business.