E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

The Future of Social Media

A couple of weeks back Paul Gillin created a post over at his weblog (Paul Gillin’s blog – Social Media and the Open Enterprise) that I found an interesting read and worth while commenting but that up until now I didn’t get a chance to. The weblog post itself is titled The Future and you can find it over here. It basically comes to indicate the state of social media and it surely makes up for some good reading. He brings together a number of different key highlights based on his research that I thought would be worth while commenting on:

We’ve seen this all before: – Yes, that may well be the case but I feel that there is a key fundamental difference between a decade ago and nowadays. Back then only a few, those in the know of how to work their way through the Internet, were the ones taking advantage of being on the Internet. The rest was just a mass of lurkers and followers wishing they would join but not finding an easy way of doing it. However, today with the huge popularity of social software we have got the situation where everyone can share content out there on the Internet without having to worry about the technicalities of doing so, but just focusing on the content. That lowering the barrier and democratising the Internet is what I feel would differentiate a decade ago from nowadays.

ROI is a huge issue: – I agree, it has always been and will always be. And perhaps here in the social media space we are seeing the same thing that we have seen in Knowledge Management all along: it has never been easy to show ROI for KM so why would that be so easy for social media when it could be identified as a KM discipline on its own? Indeed, I feel that the ROI on social media is just a continuous battle pretty much the same thing as with KM, although it may be a bit more tangible. Why? Well, mainly because through that social media we are finding out how more and more knowledge workers are more willing to share what they know and collaborate with others. So the ROI from social media could potentially be easily identified by the huge amount of new knowledge and information that is getting spread around at the moment and, much more importantly, by the increasing amount of new relationships and connections that are being created through social media and which would result in smarter, much more effective and efficient knowledge workers who are able to share and collaborate with others in providing best value to the companies they work for. Again, ROI for social media and KM is not easy to prove, but a good solid base to continue working on that space is already there. We just need to grasp it.

RSS is the killer app: – Another highlight that I agree with wholeheartedly. Pretty much like I have mentioned elsewhere several times, its adoption may not be that fast at the moment, but how else are you going to be able to keep up with hundreds of resources in an information era where more and more interesting resources are emerging on a daily basis? I mean, before I discovered RSS / Atom feeds I used to monitor about 30 web sites (Work related or not) and nowadays my current RSS / Atom subscriptions go beyond 400 web resources. I guess that comparison is quite self explanatory about the impact that web syndication will continue to have as we move forward in this social media space of having access to hundreds of resources from a single point of entry and without having to waste time checking each of those resources individually.

Corporations are treading carefully for good reason: – Indeed, and that all depends on whether companies, and their management, are ready to let go that command and control attitude and start embracing social media as the new paradigm for knowledge sharing and collaboration along with whatever other traditional methods already available.

There is a shadow blogosphere that very few people know about: – That may well be the case but then again one thing that I have learned over time myself is that sooner or later they will find their space in the wider blogosphere and they would start creating and maintaining those wider relationships with the rest of folks out there. I mean, I remember the day when I was wondering why there were so few KM webloggers out there on the Internet and over time I have been finding both my place and other people’s places and I have grown now to a comfortable blogroll of over 60 fellow KM webloggers and the list keeps growing. It all depends on how much you look and, more importantly, how much you engage with other folks to take part of the different conversations taking place.

Bottom line: – I certainly agree with Paul’s comments when he states: “social media is going to be a huge disruptive force in the way we consume information. Its impact will not be welcome in all segments of business and society, but it will ultimately be a very good thing“. Social media will be here to stay, and for quite some time, and it would be down to us, the people, the knowledge workers, to make it work in the business environment, or not, just as well as it has been working out there on the Internet. It will be our choice. No doubt. But are we all ready? We better be.

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2 comments

  1. Hi, Luis:

    Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed comments. I’ve long been interested in the topic of KM because its goals are so worthwhile but its success as a software application category has been spotty. I think the problem has been getting people to capture and share knowledge. Social media is an important evolutionary stage in solving that problem. For the first time, people are sharing knowledge because they want to and not because their boss is telling them to. I think that’s a giant step forward. Blogs are really the best KM tool ever invented. I think as more corporations realize that, they will drop their arguments about ROI and realize that the value of capturing knowledge should be cost justified.

    Paul

  2. Hi Paul !

    Thanks a lot for dropping by, for the feedback comments and welcome!

    Social media is an important evolutionary stage in solving that problem. For the first time, people are sharing knowledge because they want to and not because their boss is telling them to

    I just couldn’t have agreed more with you in that particular statement. In fact, I feel that this willingness from knowledge workers to want to share their best know-how is something that was not coming out so strong as it is with all this social software, because even if they would be really tied up with other related tasks they always find the time to share what they feel is worth while sharing and which other coworkers could benefit from. And that is something that wasn’t happening before.

    Actually, I think that thanks to that willingness to share regardless is indeed what will drop those arguments about ROI because for the first time knowledge sharing and collaboration will be considered an integral part of the business, i.e. BAU, which is what most of us have been waiting and advocating for all along.

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