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Collaboration inside the firewall needs context and purpose

David Armano put forth his 2010 social media predictions in a post on Harvard Business. And while I think David is spot-on with his outlook regarding social media in the consumer space, I think he misses an opportunity to discuss social media trends inside the enterprise.

David predicts 2010 will be the year many more businesses will get serious about using social media behind the firewall. I'm with you, David. But I disagree with David's idea that businesses will need to resort to gimmicks within their social media applications to drive usage. Usage will be driven and driven alone through productivity gains and tangible business benefits.

This is the key to understanding the difference between social media trends inside and outside the firewall. Think of it like this: When used in the consumer space, social media is a communications platform. You chat on IM, share pictures on Facebook, and discuss news on Twitter. Enterprises don't need another communications vehicle. Phone, e-mail, and face-to-face interaction accomplish that very effectively.

What organizations are seeking, however, are ways to enable faster, more cost-effective collaboration among employees for business benefit. And that's how social media adds value inside the enterprise. It is a collaboration tool.

But not just any collaboration tool. It must be driven by results. For instance, when we work with media companies, they want the editorial staff to be able to create better stories faster. They want to speed the research phase, which involves gaining better access to internal and external documents, news, and facts. They also want to improve collaboration among editors, and make better and more efficient use of the research. Both content and collaboration are key in this situation.

We see this pattern over and over again in our experience with our customers. Organizations are seeking collaboration with context and purpose. Another example is with entertainment firms. We find they want to make new shows faster. They are looking to foster a more creative environment by using social media, and they want access to past projects to learn from their mistakes and build on their successes -- not to merely communicate with colleagues.

I expanded on this thought more in the comment I left on David's article, and you can click over to read the rest!


David said...


I just left a comment on the HBR piece. I don't view competitive incentives such as competition as a "gimmick". In fact, people within the firewall are going to need all kinds of incentives to collaborate. They do it externally because the are rewarded in a myriad of ways. Social currency etc.

Adoption of collaborative systems require natural incentives in place.

Yes I probably could have emphasized internal collaboration more overtly. Agree with you there.

Phil Green said...

Looks like this conversation has taken off on your article, David. Submitted my reply there!


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