Social Business Rules Workplaces – For Now

Social tools and strategy is generating plenty of hype in the workplace. But we've seen this story before.

Marcia Robinson, Global Knowledge Leader, Mercer

December 11, 2013

3 Min Read

Twitter's IPO caused a flurry of excitement in the tech world, with people breathlessly tweeting their opinions (in fewer than 140 characters, of course). Twitter, one of the many social companies that's now a household term, is in the big leagues. With Facebook and Twitter both now public, has social business reached mainstream?

In the six meetings I attend every day, social comes up in almost all of them. "What are we doing about social?" "How is the hiring going for the new social manager?" "How do we implement change so social becomes part of our company DNA?" Companies are scrambling to figure out how they can benefit from this "new" trend.

Working in knowledge management, I am all too familiar with these questions. Social is a huge part of my job. And when I talk to colleagues in other companies, social is just as hot for them. Everyone is figuring out what technology to build or buy and going through the never-ending process of trying to prove the ROI to senior leadership. Employees are wrestling with how to use these rapidly changing new technologies.

[Want more on how to refine your company's social strategy? Read 5 Social Business Adopter Types: Prepare Early.]

When I hear about the struggles companies are going through, I can't help but think about how I've seen this movie before. Remember e-business, and how companies all had to implement e-business? It was so hot -- if you weren't doing something around "e" then you were going to be left behind. There were fancy new titles like "chief e-business officer," e-business conferences, e-business companies, e-business books, etc. And where is all of that now? You and I know how that movie ended.

Today, every business is an e-business. There are no separate "e" initiatives; it's just the way companies operate. If you go to the InformationWeek home page you'll clearly see the hot trends: Cloud and big data have tabs, but e-business is long gone.

The same will be true for social: It will become part of the way we work. Every business will be a social business; we won't need separate social managers. There will be no social conferences, no social technologies. It will simply become ingrained in what we do.

But luckily for anyone in social business right now, we still have a ways to go. We are at the beginning of the social hype storm. Much more work needs to be done, work that includes continuing to show the value of social. According to Aberdeen, "Business benefits do not happen for companies that take a laissez-faire or ad-hoc approach to workplace collaboration." Companies that recognize the value of social are formalizing it, making it part of the employee workflow, incorporating it into their business strategies, and increasing its visibility, innovation, and sales enablement.

Even when the social hype ends, there will always be a next trend. There will be some hot topic that needs to be explained by authors, speakers, and consultants, and implemented with new technology, either internally, by building it, or externally, by buying it through a vendor.

Today social is already declining on the hotness scale. Big data and analytics are taking away some of the hype. Next year will bring something new and shiny that grabs everyone's attention. My plan for now is to enjoy the social hype movie -- even if I already know the ending -- and closely watch the coming attractions.

Consumerization 1.0 was "We don't need IT." Today, we need IT to bridge the gap between consumer and business tech. Also in the Consumerization 2.0 issue of InformationWeek: Stop worrying about the role of the CIO. (Free registration required.)

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Marcia Robinson

Global Knowledge Leader, Mercer

Marcia Robinson is a knowledge management and social media strategist, speaker, and author of internationally best-selling books. She is currently the Global Knowledge Leader at Mercer, a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement, and investments, with 20,000+ employees based in more than 40 countries. She is currently implementing a next-generation social intranet leveraging SharePoint and NewsGator technology. Previously, Marcia started her own consulting company, E-Business Strategies, and worked at Unisys, EDS, and Frontier.

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights