Social Media to Social Business

Nice post at HBR blogs by David Armano about social media becoming social business. David makes the point that organizations today are understanding more the value of conversations and hence the value of being social in terms of business functions. Two parts where i feel he makes some important points:

On one hand, the public desires authentic interactions in social spaces from real people. There is now an expectation for real-time response. On the other, a business or organization requires a system to be in place that coordinates activities.

and

Organizations that integrate social into how they do business will embrace social as a layer that’s woven into the fabric of each business function over time.

Look at it carefully, and it seems we are rediscovering something inherent here. Why i say rediscover is because these reminded me of what i understood of Enterprise 2.0, as an organization form rather than the technology which enabled, in some ways necessitated the change in the form of the organization. These discussions were happening not too long ago, something i have written about before.

I am not sure many organizations have reached the stage where they are looking at an E2.0 form of working, and we dont yet have an understanding of of what this form would be. One aspect, for example, is whether hierarchies would remain in the E2.0 era, or would they disappear, or would we see them morph into something different from what they have been.

Are you seeing changes in the organization form? The way i see it, i see changes in the way people are interacting when it comes to work, these interactions becoming more social, but when it comes to organizations, this change would be far more gradual.


About Google+ …

I recently posted a poll about whether you would like to move to google+ from the social network you are existing using. The two responses which are getting the maximum support seem to be:

1. People would move to google+ if their friends moved to google+ … something which is expected. What i have heard from some friends is that since they dont have many friends on google+, they really dont know what to do there. After all, a social network is about connections, so if you dont have connections, whats the point. In other words, its still early days yet to see acceptance.

2. People would probably start using google+ along with their existing social network. This would seem to mean that its not either/or, which is what we see today as well, people using a number of social networks. What this means is that there would be a need for apps to publish updated to google+ from other social networks. Or, a need for a social network aggregator, maybe?

The poll apart, the feedback i am seeing about google+ seems to be varying from one end of the spectrum to another. On the one hand, people are raving about it, on the other people are saying its not worth it. There are plenty of comparisons being made with facebook, but i feel maybe the thing folks need to look at is whether google+ could be used as an alternative to twitter, which is something which seems to be getting missed out in the discussion.


10 Things About Google+

Theres quite a bit of buzz about google+ (i am not trying to play with words here), and opinions about the social network seem to be divided. Some folks i am coming across believe that this is the next big thing in the social space. Others believe that theres not much to it, and that there is not much to say that it would be as well accepted as some think it would be.

I tend to take a position somewhere in between. I feel its early days yet to find out how google+ would shape up. What more functionality would google add to it? My thoughts:

1. The look and feel is quite cool, but it would take some doing to get used to the usability. If you are used to linkedin and facebook, you would probably find usability to be a bit different, which at times (at least with those on the other side of the hill) leads to some form of an adoption curve which would need to be taken care of. Not that the curve would be steep necessarily, but it would be there.

2. Some of the features are cool, but at times i feel much more is being read into them. By and large, folks quite like the concept of circles. Though facebook has lists which, from what i understand, are somewhat analogous, the look and feel of circles seems to be quite nice.

3. Using circles to share content privately may not be the right way of looking at it. Rather, circles could be more useful to share content in a more targetted manner, so you can share content which is relevant with a set of people. For example, if you are sharing something work-related, your college friends dont need to see it. Apart from this, i am not sure whether one should read much into it.

4. I have been trying to share an unplugged AC/DC video, but havent been able to do that because the Public option is right at the bottom of the list, and if you try to scroll, the list closes. But then, its early days, and i would think that google would be taking care of a lot of the things folks are saying.

5. Hangout is something which needs to be tried out. Seems to be quite cool.

6. A social network is more about people than about platforms, so the discussion needs to be more about usage than about features.

7. This one’s from Amit Virmani … would google+ have got more traction if they had an option to transfer content from facebook?

8. Posts and comments look like people discussing something and is quite nice.

9. Older posts come to the top of the timeline if there is a recent comment, which means that a post which creates conversation remains at the top of the timeline, which is quite cool, but not always, and could distract from the latest updates coming from your network.

10. Sparks is a neat feature.

Do leave your feedback about these thoughts.


Social Supply Chain

Came across a post by @SameerPatel about Enterprise 2.0 conference … What i found cool was the idea of different tracks which brings to focus the idea that social media is the tool which can help bring more effectiveness into various parts of the organization. This is welcome because with this we are moving to the application aspect from the concept aspect.

When coming to the concept of social for supply chains, this is something which can help an organization bring about quite a bit of efficiency in the supply chain. While supply chains have always been about collaboration, without the social aspect, supply chain management tends to look at supply chains as business processes and the collaboration is assumed to be happening as part of the process. In theory this is nice, but keeps the people out of the collaboration picture, with people only coming in as users of systems. With the social aspect, this part comes to the front.

What i am trying to say here is that when supply chain partners collaborate, it is the people in these supply chains which collaborate, and the context (content, if you may) for the collaboration comes from the SCP, CPFR and other tools. The social aspect of supply chains, by bringing together people driving the supply chain processes in these partners to interact and collaborate could bring in the sticky knowledge which is relevant to specific parts of the supply to the fore. In a way, brings the concepts of SCM and KM together, would you say?


Social Apps, Business Processes …

I had written earlier about social enterprise apps, where i had takled about how the interactions of people with business processes are a very important part of knowledge creation, this being an important reason for why enterprise apps need to facilitate connections between people who complement each other with knowledge requirement and availability. Taking up from there, one would need to look at how this could be done.

To begin with, enterprise apps need to recognize that these connections as it is exist. You would be working with so many people, out of whome, with some you interact more frequently than with others, because of the nature of work. This is something which could be leveraged to enable creation of connections within the organization. A production manager, for example, must interact quite frequently with the inventory managers, and the software developer must interact more frequently with others working on the same technology, and with others from the same vertical (in addition to the pantry folks, for when the coffee machine goes kaput), or the sales folks need to interact more frequently with the dispatch folks to make sure material or services are delivered on time to customers.

This is not to say that knowledge flows in organizations can be straitjacketed along business processes, but there is a higher probability of people collaborating on a business process interacting with each other, and needing inputs from each other on a regular basis. Once this is understood, an app could help to surface connections between positions, in addition to the social networks that people develop among themselves. What this means is that the Shift Incharge has a higher probability of building a connect with the Stores Manager, and this could be facilitated by the apps.

While this does look like an appendix to the workflow management system which the apps would already have in place, this is bringing in a perspective to workflow management which is people-centric rather than being purely process-centric. Somewhere between the people and process centric approach? Or am i leaning too much towards the process aspect?


Social Enterprise Apps

Over the last few days, i am seeing some posts coming on the topic of social components in business apps. This is an encouraging trend, i feel, give that these are two aspects of the organization which need to be aligned with each other, but this is something which is usually not appreciated. Agree, number of enterprise apps players have built social capabilities into the apps (something i have written about before), but there are other questions which then become important for organizations to look at. This is something which is important to effectively utilize the social capabilities which are being built into enterprise apps. This is a development in the right direction, something I have written about before.

To begin with, the fact that enterprise apps and social media are not mutually exclusive is something which must be understood well by organizations.  The usual thought process is that business and people aspects of organizations are separate from each other. I suppose thats where the concept of hard skills and soft skills comes from? Even if that be so, the point is, that organizations tend to miss out on an important aspect … that people and business processes are two facets of the organization which go along with each other. This is going a bit beyond the usual “people are the most valuable assets” philosophy, and understanding that end of the day (beginning as well), it is the people who make business processes work, and this interaction of people and business processes is an important point of knowledge creation.

This is where an important benefit of blending social tools into the enterprise apps will come from. The idea is, as people interact with business processes, they need to bring to bear upon processes knowledge which may or may not be available with them. This is why this is the point where the apps need to facilitate the connections between people who can complement each other in terms of knowledge requirement and availability. This usually is something which is done today by SOP’s, or other manuals which more often than not are not quite easy to understand, quite apart from not being able to capture the nuances or jugaad (workaround, though that doesnt quite get to the spirit of jugaad) of these processes which people interacting with these processes on a regular basis understand.

This is one of the important reasons why social components are an important aspect to enterprise apps. More about how i feel this could be done later.


Patterns … Again

The other day, my son had got homework … so whats this about, all children get homework, whether they like it or not. What was interesting about the homework was that this was codebreaking. This was a story about two children writing secret messages to each other (maybe so the teachers cant figure out what they were writing), and the homework was to try and figure out the code. Interesting. There was no key, and the children were supposed to find out the key to figure out the coded messages. Some of the coded messages i remember:

3w3h3e3r3e3a3r3e3y3o3u

to which the reply was

7i6n5t4h3e2c1l9a8s7s6r5o4o3m

to which the reply was

eieweaeneteteoepeleaey

Interesting. I was at a lowss for a while trying to figure out what these meant. They arent very difficult until you see that they are meant for 8 year old children. And this is the itneresting part. Once he got on to the fact that there are some kind of patterns which we needs to look out for, it was a cakewalk. And this is what i am writing about. We find it easy to work with patterns. The brain probably recognizes patterns quite easily and we are able to make sense out of patterns more than we know we can, and patterns play an important role in the way we process information even where data may not be available. For example here, he had no data to work on, and once told to look for patterns, found it relatively easy to look for them. Like i have written before, quite a few times, we look at patterns and these patterns inform us about things maybe in more effective ways than data does, at times.

What is important is that in the realm of social media, where content is being created at a pace which is far more than can be analyzed in terms of data, it is this concept of patterns and the information that patterns tend to embed in them which could be an important aspect of trying to understand where the conversation is headed. Patterns are important because they, at times, show us a picture which data may not, like the coded messages which we just saw.