Friday, November 2, 2007

10 Facebook Lessons for the Enterprise

I came across this really neat article (yes, its so web 1.0 to call something an article, but they actually ask you to type numbers from a picture into a textbox to make sure you are human) by Derek Abdinor about 10 lessons the enterprise could learn from Facebook. There is nothing web 1.0 about the lessons, though ... The neat part about discussions like these is that you know these lessons all along, just that you couldnt articulate them, and this is actually quite a nice compilation.

Though, at times it seems that Derek is saying the obvious, but then, these are things which arent seeming to be obvious to managers in most organizations across the world. Some observations of a few of these ...

1. Simple web publishing would just get more and more people publishing more and more simply. This is going to happen, question is, are you going to tap into it, and leverage the potential, or are you going to be looking at the time-wasting side of the coin? Sure, a little bit of time is wasted (or, maybe, just a little bit more than a little bit), but as a lot of literature has pointed out, those extended coffee breaks were not necessarily a waste of time. Because they were enabling people to network, find out who does what, whome can they go to if they needed something, and build up a level of trust, a kind of an informal relationship which keeps the knowledge flows going in the company, and this, according to literature, is something BPR missed out on big time.

2. I would like to interpret this a little differently. Bottomline, there are two reasons I network ... a. I have a need to network, being a social animal, and b. I need to know something, or learn something, and that I can do by talking with someone else. As such, social networks would end up being the front page, sort of an aggregator if you may, to other resources. Ever had a scenario where you found a post in your feed reader, and clicked on a link there, and before you know it, you are on a completely new page, which you hadnt seen before, and has some quite nice stuff. Happens to me a lot, and most of the blogs that I subscribe to now, I came to know about them from other blogs, which I was reading in my feedreader. Can the same logic be extended to the social network? I think so. Of course, there is the issue of a multitude of social networks, and I have written before about the need to aggregate these. Dave mentioned about fuser which I thought is a very nice tool. This is early days yet, though I think its quite neat.

Apart from this, there is the usual blah about how social networking is changing, and will continue to change the way organizations interact, how organizations are interacting with their customers in a totally new way, and how this can fuel innovation ... Let me not dwell on this for too long, at the risk of falling asleep, and I am sure you would also have read ad nauseum about this.

There is also a nice post by Bill Ives about Letting Facebook and MySpace into the Enterprise where he is looking at the result of a survey which seems to have concluded that more companies are not blocking social networks because they have other issues to resolve, and this might come later. This isnt something I can quite agree with ... This was being said of the internet too, and look where we are. The point that Darin Stahl seems to be missing out is that a. social networking need not necessarily be only outside the organization, but that can add a lot of value within the organization, especially in the large, geographically organizations, and b. social networks would, in all likelihood, get slowly integrated into business processes, changing them from the way we see them today. I have written about this here. Add to this cauldron the idea of virtual worlds, and the entire potion can become quite interesting. Social networks have, and are, changing the principles of the who, why, where of social interactions (we are today interacting with people, sharing thoughts, ideas, issues, solutions, etc., with people whome we didnt even know till the other day), and knowledge seeking, and sharing, while virtual worlds can change the mechanics, or the very way we interact, or seek and share knowledge, bringing in the richness and the spontaneity that is inherent in them.


Emily said...

I really like your coverage of the every changing social sphere because of socian networking. You're right, Facebook (and social networking in general) has revolutionized social interactions within many demographics. Thanks for mentioning Fuser. We're excited about our ability to bring this new social world together with other forms of digital communications!


Atul said...

Actually, Dave told me about Fuser. And, must say, I quite like the tool, though I am not exactly a heavy user as of now. Will probably write about Fuser soon.

Paulplot said...

i agree that people's social and business lives are increasingly merging. more so for small businesses than big though. but we are still the "hype" phase of the hype cycle and there will be a shake-out and then finally there will be the sites which become a part of our life like google has.

Atul said...

Quite agree with you, Jessie ... the shape of web 2.0 when the dust has settled, in my opinion, would be quite different from what we see it today ... and, I think it should be so, too ... More of an evolutionary process, rather than a static technology definition!