Social Networking Is Transformative

Much of the coverage of social networking and its use in the workplace deals with the practical, short-term elements: How best to deploy it, how to keep it secure and how to get people to use it.

At The Brainyard, Debra Donston-Miller has done something a bit different. She takes a look at five ways in which social networking will change organizations over the long term. Social networking, she says, will “flatten” organizations, empower customers with a bigger voice in the organization, invert the customer service model, replace intranets and expand the marketing function to many more employees.

Taken together, this is quite a transformation. At the highest level, it shows that technology has grown to the extent that proprietary information, siloed data, insular executives and other employees, strict lines of data flow and other highly formalized and enforceable limitations are fading. Strangely, a good example of this is WikiLeaks: The growth of communications technology – first, the ability to send data in electronic form and then the ability of folks to tap in and capture it – makes it possible for you and I to sit in our dens and read extraordinarily sensitive messages between people at the highest level of government and commerce.

WikiLeaks, of course, is an extremely dramatic example. The bottom line is that social networking – which increasingly overlaps and eventually will be synonymous with unified communications – is changing the very structure of business. Though obviously is biased, the opinion of its CEO shouldn’t be dismissed. According to ZDNet, CEO Marc Benioff said that:

[E]nterprise technology is going to face an uprising akin to the Arab Spring in the Middle East. The theme is that customers are going to revolt against traditional enterprise software as corporations become more social.

And it is happening quickly. Just in the last few days, for instance, social networking firm Jive Software filed for an initial public offering that it hopes will raise $100 million, the Accenture Enterprise Social Media Innovation Center opened in Silicon Valley and IBM launched a tool aimed at building enterprise connections and contacts across the major mobile operating system platforms.


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