Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Social Computing@Delta

I came across a blog about the adoption of social computing at Delta. Nice read ... Brings out some of the benefits that can be expected leveraging social computing tools as part of a marketing and PR toolkit. There are, though, a few thoughts I had about this:

1. First of all, this is all about adoption. I have written about this before, and by definition, the whole magic of social computing revolves around adoption, or participation. It has been called the "participatory web", but without getting into terminology, depends purely on the way the participants see it. In the examples of a lot of companies, they have not been able to build traction with their customer communities towards social computing, where the customers see these as just another useless thing the company wants them to waste their time upon. Which is why, it is extremely important to understand what the customer wants before jumping into this. If the customer is simply looking for a transaction, or a sales relationship/delivery partnership, maybe this is not the right model (though this is counter-intuitive, since social computing can add far more value in that scenario). Or, maybe, this scenario may work better in a B2C rather than a B2B scenario (sorry to bring those terms back, but typically, industrial buyers tend to be more hooked into talking with salesreps, and complaining about their stupid policies).

2. When discussing adoption of social computing, it is common practice to build scenarios which describe how people would behave or respond to social computing tools in their environment or cultural setting. These scenarios are built in a context where there is usually an attempt to second-guess human behaviour. It is quite a usual thing to hear statements like "people would look at this blog in this way" ... This is essentially second-guessing, and the participants in the debate tend to emphasize on their own preferences, and sort of project them on their audience. This is not an altogether healthy practice, and we must look at more psychlogical and statistical inferences that can be drawn from case studies of organizations who have already treaded the path. Though, I am looking for psychological studies which can define, to some extent, the way people look at social computing, and how it impacts their thinking. Any inputs more than welcome!

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