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Social Business

March 14, 2012

Two words that some – the more traditional amongst us – say should never be seen together. Fact is, business is a social activity. In a business transaction, there are always at least 2 parties, and consequently most of the time at least 2 people. Can a person honestly say that they never collaborate? Collaboration is key to achieving our objectives, as no man is an island. We have hiearchies, rivalries, friendships, peers, contacts, business card holders, phone books, twitter followers/followees, emails overflowing out of the gaps in our keyboards, phones glued to our ears, networking events, business lunches, dinners, Kick-offs, wrap parties and the golf links!! How can anyone say business is not social? Interestingly, even as business becomes more and more about technology, the social aspect is a very manual, very low-fi activity. Some would argue that this has to be the case; but look at the personal world we operate in outside of work (you do have one, don’t you? Or is the firey red incessant blinking blackberry message alert just too much to bear?!). Facebook, all manner of apps, flickr, forums, blogs, tags, shares, user generated content all point to a movement towards using technology to change the way we interact with each other. If it was technology for technology’s sake, then how would one explain the proliferation of consumer IT? ‘Normal’ people now care about IT! Why? It has to be more than the glitzy accessory packaging. People get something from it. Bring-your-own-device movements are an acknowledgement that people want to work in more advanced and friendly ways. That said, we collaborate and interact rather differently at work than in our personal lives, but there is a great deal of overlap. When you have a distributed business (just like you probably have distributed friends) you need to communicate effectively. Is there a reason why we no longer see rafts of circular forward emails in our inboxes from our mates? Well yes, because they don’t get read, and people hate them. So why do it in business? Why do people like using chat programs instead of email for some things? I even spoke to someone just yesterday who described IBM SameTime as “utterly essential”! We need both structured and more free-form collaboration; as creative and innovative collaboration cannot be constrained. Structured collaboration (you could described these as business processes or workflows) are equally important. This way you get rid of the ‘owner’ mentality, and it’s necessary human single point of failure; and the erratic and unpredictable results this brings. We have the technology to subscribe to, contribute to, interact with and influence the topics that are of interest to us; on our terms. We should engender a culture of collaboration in our workforces – the technology alone is not enough. It is often said that if you keep doing the same things, the same way you always did, then you will get what you always got. I think it is far more than that: you will struggle more and more to get even the same results. Go forth and collaborate!!


From → Integration

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