And now we have enterprise social network as the new flavor of the month. Was there ever a doubt that one had to be social within an enterprise to achieve work goals and objectives from an organization perspective? If the answer is no, does one expect the problem of social interaction within an enterprise to be solved by a piece of software? Is replacing email with 160 word twitter like messages and status updates going to resolve the crisis of poor collaboration within an organization and outside with its value chain?
Enterprise Social Networking will have to go way beyond Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. These social / business networking sites are successful from the point of view of drawing curious onlookers but has failed to succeed in making them collaborate with one another. More so, from a global context. The reason is the inability to share a common cultural understanding of one another and therefore the inability to establish a trustful relationship. Here is a simple litmus test; of all the talent that has been seen together on the LinkedIn site, which VC has been able to put together a successful leadership / management team for a new business idea and build an organization to success? If the answer crosses double digits ( and I am being charitable here), I would be pleasantly surprised!!
Boundaries and barriers are established by people because:
- They fear loss of control.
- They do not have an understanding of shared values.
- They are not in the habit of working in a collaborative manner.
Any technology that is introduced for the purpose of making them interact to share and innovate on ideas and concepts must first create a mechanism to overcome the above three in order to be successful. It is hard enough for people to drop racial and social biases besides all the biases arising from ignorance at home; how does one drop the biases arising from a global scenario?
Let me give you the example of a European company I know which has been in business for a considerable period of time. This company has people working with them since their inception and this population has done business in their local environment as is typical of Europe, with very little external influence. Suddenly, India become the flavor and an acquisition is made. Unfortunately for this European company, it comes at a time when the country is churning for a more front office role rather than a back-office role. The traditional understanding and demeanor of most Europeans towards Indian s is that of “people from a lesser planet”. How do you overcome not only their bias but also help them understand that the Indians have been dealing with more current and relevant business agenda than them in rest parts of the world and are therefore more suitable to lead the front office on matters of modernization and globalization? In this scenario, what is the success of introducing Enterprise Social Networking software?
For heaven’s sake, I hope that people stop advertising the enterprise social networking as means of reducing travel costs. The emphasis should be more on improving growth opportunities and therefore collaboration. To be able to leverage the best talents from wherever available as described by C K Prahalad and M S Krishnan in their book “the new age of innovation” where the formula adopted is N=1 (personalized co-created experiences) and R=g (Global Access to talent and resources).