Thursday, 1 October 2009

Don’t get made sick by the social

 

775px-Ambulance-interior I’m looking forward to joining Bertrand Duperrin for a pre-Enterprise 2.0 summit (ie the European conference) video call later on today to discuss the impact of national specificities on enterprise 2.0 adoption.

One of the things Duperrin is going to be discussing is that “the word ‘social’ makes execs feel sick”.  This reaction is something I’ve noticed quite a few other comments about recently.

In his Enterprise 2.0 book, Andrew McCafee explains why he rarely if ever uses the word social when discussing Enterprise 2.0:

“The adjective social is often applied to the technologies discussed in this book. This label is accurate, but unfortunate. When some managers hear talk of social technologies, they immediately think of technologies that facilitate activities like happy hour, fantasy sports league drafts, and office gossip. They hear “social,” in short, and think it means not work-related, or time wasting, or productivity-draining.”

 

And commenting on this in Stowe Boyd's post on the Social Business, Tammy Erickson notes:

“‘Social’ is perhaps accurate, but it is also an unfortunate choice of word for the technology and certainly for the enterprise. In the business world, “social” just doesn’t resonate — and whether we like it or not, it connotes a level of frivolousness that doesn’t encourage business people to grapple with the serious challenges ahead.”

 

Yes, but.

I agree with Bertrand’s, Andrew’s and Tammy’s concerns, and I’ve experienced similar reactions myself.  I’ve also posted on Cisco’s preference for business (rather than social) networks.

It’s often useful to avoid the ‘s’ word.  And with my clients, I often do so myself.

So we introduce social applications below the radar.  And we pretend that the social business is just the same as what’s been going on before.  And that’s fine.

Except that it isn’t (the same as before)!  And organisations aren’t going to get the full benefits from social media, and they’re certainly not going to become social businesses or gain Social Advantage, unless they’re comfortable with the Social.

We need to help our organisations understand.  Business is personal.  Business is social.  Get used to it!

 

 

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