Thursday, August 16, 2007

Case for Social Networking

As a technologist, I first started using Social networks in 1993, on Compuserve (it was not called social networking then). Most technologists have a similar example, like Prodigy or The Well. I am now a regular LinkedIn user, and our technology wiki is indispensible. The benefits to my company are clearly tangible.

It is entirely possible that large companies could significantly benefit from an internal social networking tool (call it a wiki for arguments sake). But how can one explain the benefits to an executive? Its a tough sell.

While I personally believe social networking will revolutionize corporations, I'm not sure I have a sound argument and reasoning. A tool just like Myspace and Facebook for the office? Won't that mean employees wasting countless hours instead of working? What if our employees post incorrect information? Who's going to monitor it?

My argument hinges on:-
1) Wiki is more productive than email
2) Wiki information being self-correcting, like wikipedia

I believe social networking will displace email, in part, as a workplace tool. Conversations in email will move to an intranet wiki, and staff email time will be freed up to spend on a wiki growing a corporate knowledge-base. But will it? How can I prove it? Plus, it may take years for it to happen. This argument also presupposes that email in its current form is often unproductive as a workplace tool, which goes against everything we said to get email adopted in the first place.

And how can I prove that information will self-correct? Wikipedia is not like a company, so proves nothing. If executives believed in "the wisdom of crowds", then crowds would be running companies. And my prototype company examples, Google and IBM, are atypical. If anyone has a better argument that has worked at the executive level, let's hear it.

1 comment:

glemak said...

you need to talk to ross @ socialtext - I bet he has tons of good enterprise 2.0 case studies you could use to influence the change resisters - let me know if you want an intro jon...