Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Enterprise Social Computing ...

Almost the topic of a white paper i came across. Stan Gargield, in his post refers to a software vendor, Trampoline Systems. Over at their website, there is a white paper which they have published. Interesting paper. What i liked about the paper is the simple way in which its written. Not too many heavy words getting you running for your thesaurus, and some reflection on the subject which is common-sensical. However, lot of the stuff you would have already heard, so probably not much new you would gather, i guess.

Few thoughts about the stuff they put there ...

1. The paper tries to draw a parallel between Consumer Social Networking (stuff we do today on a lot of sites out there), and Enterprise Social Computing (stuff we would like to see people doing behind the firewall). The impression i get is that the assumption is that these two fit neatly into mutually exclusive compartments. I dont think this works this way. Theres no telling where the professional ends, and the friends part begins. And, to a large extent, knowledge sharing happens based on the rapport people have amongst themselves. You are more likely to share thoughts with buddies than with casual acquaintances, arent you?

2. The primary concern the paper raises is about the possibility that people may not use this, making it redundant. This, i believe, is the largest challenge any KM practitioner has to contend with. I believe any KM initiative is as good as its adoption. Otherwise, you might have made a better mousetrap, but no point if the world is not beating the path to it. Something i have written about. This is, however, not to say that that is all there is to it. I also believe that KM has been happening for centuries, with or without a separate KM function. What seems to be missing is the direction, and the possibility of leveraging the potential provided by technology, to look at ways of fundamentally changing the way things are done around here.

3. One thing i really flipped for (not something which a lot of people actually say, and its even more difficult to do so, if you are a software vendor) ...

The aim of Enterprise Social Computing is not to drive users to a system and keep them there, rather to create possibilities for offline connection, collaboration and innovation by combining the disciplines of social networking and knowledge management.

Heavy ... but, makes sense!

4. Another important point the paper makes is about the automation of capturing profile/work information about people. On facebook, folks are updating information about themselves, because its for fun, and its a way of keeping friends and family updated. Dont expect them to do the same thing behind the firewall. Theres just no reason to. However, considering the myriad systems that are deployed in the typical organization, it can be quite easy to capture information on what things people are working on, on an ongoing basis.

All in all, seems an interesting thing (though, please note ... i am not trying to sell any product, nor have i even used the product ... hey ... i am writing about the paper! :-))

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