Some Adoption Thoughts on Social Computing …


Interesting piece that Andrew Gent has written … Enterprise 2.0, Revisited … And he’s got it spot on … Critical mass is essential. Something i have written about before … about adoption! Though, this is a chicken-and-egg situation, to an extent … people not contributing till they see value, and value not getting generated till people contribute. However, this post is not about this … The basic idea that i as looking at is the possible impact of social computing on organizational structures.

Andrew says that …

I am even more firmly convinced that social computing — sometimes referred to as Enterprise 2.0 — cannot happen inside the corporation without some major changes to processes, practices, and preconceptions. This is not “change management”; this is a deep, fundamental change in beliefs throughout the corporation.

I agree and disagree with the central idea here. I agree to the fact that social computing and fundamentally new ways of doing things (processes, practices, and preconceptions … probably even the different functions in the organization) are related. Though, to my mind its not such a straightforward relationship. The way i see it, in the long term, there is a high probability of social computing causing some of these changes, rather than being caused by them. This is not to say that no change is required … Certainly, there has to be a certain amount of change in the way things are done … more importantly, the way the organizational structures and attitudes look at social computing.

The way i see it … its almost like a chicken-and egg scenario … Social computing wont be widely accepted till there is widespread change, and widespread change wont happen till social computing is widely accepted. Now, given the way organizations function, i dont see widespread change happening anytime soon (the change in processes, practices, and preconceptions). However, to break this circle, requires making a start … And certain aspects of the organization which lend themselves far more easily, either due to the inherent nature of the work, or due to the prevailing attitudes to the work in that part of the organization. Over a period of time, this could lead to incrementally greater levels of change, but this transition needs to be managed … not managed in the true sense of the term, but rather, in terms of the sensitivities involved.

Bottomline … if social computing can deliver value, it would be here to stay. And, i totally agree with Andrew that this requires critical mass … adoption to at least a particular level. Though, i may be wrong … this is just my thought process, and this is not backed by experience … Wish me Luck!

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