Summary: Demystifying social business or enterprise 2.0 is still necessary for the majority of companies. The current phase of consolidating the results of trials, pilots and experiments has to lead to the next big thing in business IT: Enterprise 2.0 at work. Maybe this process will eventually turn out to simply be a different angle towards social business and the perception of “social” as a logical extension to information objects and thereby operational workplace solutions.
To make sense of my train of thought I would like to specify “information object” first since this expression might have a meaning to a lot of people already. For me an information object is simply a collection of data that has a meaning in itself. For example:
- Content of an e-mail
- Content on a website
- Blog post
- Document of any sort
- Wiki entry
- Person (even though most people most likely don’t want to be seen as objects, I suppose…)
An extension to that object is everything that has a logical relation to that object – be it a tag, people, documents, the creator of that object, conversations etc…
From a very pragmatic point of view we are only looking at two radically new concepts or mechanics in this picture when it comes to business IT:
- Everything is connected and the connections are used to enrich the core information object and make that enrichment easily accessible for the average user.
- Dialogue (communication) is moved in the direct context (and more or less the physical space) of the information object.
In commercial and social IT these concepts have long been realized. Otherwise contextual advertising, relevancy based recommendations and behavioural targeting wouldn’t be possible. Furthermore information objects are an embedded part of conversations on social media sites – you will never find a conversation around a picture that everyone has stored on the hard drive.
In the future connected objects will simply share the same space…so they will be “social” 😉 (as social as objects can be…)
Extend existing business IT…socialize the 1.0 workspace!
I believe that companies need more connections – amongst people and amongst information objects. I also believe that more transparency, more dialogue and the culture of sharing will be essential to the evolution of information work.
I do not believe in the corporate social network approach. I don’t think that the internal Facebook or Twitter will deliver sustainable results and drive change beyond early adopters and nerds. I am not sure if “social software” has a long term future.
Socialized business IT (actual business applications that are flavored with social mechanics) that enforces the connected enterprise by simply connecting everything and everyone on the fly is the future on the digital desktop. “On the fly” however, will be the key: everything will happen in the day to day business context, the actual operational work individuals and teams conduct at the workplace. There will be no active “I have to share this” or “I have to connect myself to this”. If it’s relevant and if it shares context it will be connected automatically. It will become the common way of working.
One day we will look at a document that has no conversation around it, no statement such as “if you like this you might want to have a look at that” or no people connected to it and we will think: scrap it…it cannot be worth anything.
One day we will look at a profile that has no further connections and we will think: that person probably doesn’t work here anymore.
One day the extensions of an information object will be the real path to it and the indicator of it’s value.
One day business IT will add value to people with every single byte.