A slightly edited comment in response to a good article from Knowledge@Wharton: Is Business-centric Social Networking a Revolution — or a Ruse? ( via http://eponymouspickle.blogspot.com/ ) .


Most professors I know are using twitter, but not for the consumer noise most are familiar with, rather to share information easily and quickly. Similarly, on Facebook the most intelligent people I know have the most friends. It’s a more functional replacement for email that bogged us all down– that isn’t discussed here, and should have been.

The author also misses several other points in this otherwise good piece, not least of which is the need to share information with customers and partners, monitor feedback, and importantly; introduce advanced analytics that wouldn’t be available otherwise.

I am not kind to the hype in software, and consumer social is absolutely in bubble territory, but we need to remind ourselves that collaboration–indeed computing, was originally designed for the workplace. That the enterprise market is relying primarily on consumer innovation (not just in collaboration or social–look at Apple) speaks to the dysfunction of organizational cultures more than how humans work best together, and with which tools.

Truth be known, and few if any have studied this issue as long or detailed as I have:

  • boards are often the last to know that their companies are failing
  • true meritocracy doesn’t exist in most organizations due to lack of structured information (meaning false assumptions and/or missing information dominates)
  • the interests of the knowledge workers and organizations are often misaligned, which can be improved substantially with properly structured data
  • virtually all human caused crises can be prevented with properly structured and designed networks, including many multi-billion dollar cases we’ve identified in private companies in the past five years
  • large bureaucratic enterprises are among the least innovative orgs on the planet, due primarily to cultures that protect and defend instead of working together to improve, and smothering creativity of individuals in the process

Yes, consumer social software is primitive for enterprise use. Yes, it is largely a waste of time to use tools designed for different purposes, but it’s equally true that most don’t understand how to use the tools. No, the functionality needed in the enterprise is not simply an incremental evolution of existing platforms.

It’s best for leaders of large organizations to seek revolutionary improvement given the extremely poor performance of many in crisis prevention and innovation.

Here is a generic short video on structured data for the enterprise that provides a summary on why revolutionary change is needed. Those silos exist in large part due to incompatible languages and high costs of integration in legacy systems. If you want to learn about hype in software, and the damage done to customers and society, take a look at lock-in and (its) relationship to voluntary data standards, comparing say to interoperability in the electric grid or plumbing infrastructure for comparison.

This article clearly supports the status quo. How’s that working; and for whom?

Either organizations are about people or they aren’t. If they are, as I am absolutely certain, then we’ve just scratched the surface of what is already possible, and those who refuse to adopt technologies that provide a tailored competitive advantage will continue to suffer the consequences. That has been true since the invention of the wheel, if not before. And all along the way some Neanderthals have successfully convinced their tribes that starting fires is a waste of time, or learning how to use a microscope was too laborious given the obvious fact that their current tools (eyes) worked just fine.

Now excuse me while I click the twitter button above and share this article with chief influencers and on Linkedin that includes all manner of customers to Wharton.

Mark Montgomery
Founder & CEO

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