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

From the blog

Social Networking and ThinkPlace – Why Communities Still Rule the Innovation Space

(Previously, on elsua – The Knowledge Management Blog at ITtoolbox)

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Goodness ! I cannot believe that another week has gone by already since I last posted a weblog entry over here ! WOW! I guess I have just been through one of the worst weeks I have ever had as far as workload is concerned and I supposed all of my weblogs have noticed a slight hit here and there. There is not much more that you can do after having attended 6 to 7 hours conference calls almost every day rock solid ! Yes, I know, just too many meetings and conference calls. And you are right, for sure. But there is just so much going on that it is sometimes difficult to let it all go, just like that. So, instead, I try to make it to all of those events that are worth while following up on, so that I can then come over here and start weblogging about them, because thus far most of them have proved to be very helpful and enlightening, to say the least. But I guess one step at a time.

First things first. Catch up with my RSS feeds, which is what I have been doing lately around the world of weblogging, apart from sharing the odd weblog entry in either of my other two weblogs as well. And while I was doing the usual catch up, so that I would get a glimpse of what is happening out there, I have bumped into an interesting article published by Robin Bloor, over at IT-Director.com and whose title is quite intriguing, specially if you do not know really what Think Space is: Social Networking and Think Space.

Well, to gets things started it is actually not Think Space, but ThinkPlace. But that is another story. Let’s have a look at what the article deals with.

Robin basically provides a quick overview of the Lotusphere 2007 event that he attended back in January sharing a bit of his impressions on some of the different announcements made back then. Yes, the ones I have talked about over here quite a bit: Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr. While he believes that they would provide some potential value to large enterprises and corporations alike, he is actually wondering if they would both work within the SmB market since there may not be a significant critical mass to make it all work.

Well, while I can see his point I must say that I do not see a reason why social networking / computing could actually not work within the SmB market. After all, people still need to connect with one another, most of the times, in a distributed environment, sharing their knowledge and collaborating with others. That is something that happens as well in SmB and quite a bit. And in fact, given how powerful social computing can be as an enabler to facilitate knowledge sharing regardless the environment and seeing how inexpensive it actually is it makes perfect sense to think that social networking tools would actually, if anything, be ideal for the SmB market. But perhaps that is the subject for another much more in detail weblog entry.

What I wanted to share with you as well, folks, is actually the second part of the article where Robin gets to mention one other IBM application, we are making use of internally, and which tries to help boost innovation @ IBM big time and which was demoed as well over at Lotusphere 2007. Unfortunately, Robin made a typing mistake and it is not Think Space but ThinkPlace.

In the past I have been talking about ThinkPlace a few times already as perhaps one of the most interesting options IBM is exploring around the world of innovation by placing ideas into a single repository in order to work with them and put them into practice. Not just with the work of several individuals, but also as a group. A group with a sense of belonging and commitment to keep things moving and drive those ideas through. This is something that I have talked about over here just a few days ago and which ties in quite nicely over here.

That is right, one of the main goals from ThinkPlace is to actually not just drive innovation forward for the sake of just doing it, but also from the perspective that innovation can be much more meaningful and rewarding, perhaps even much better positioned, if it is actually taking place from a group perspective. That is right, through the power of communities. And having different tools in place very much around the space of social computing is just going to have one particular effect: that of knowledge sharing, participation and collaboration with others. In short, innovation. I doubt it can get any better than that, don’t you think?

Either way, you would be able to read from that particular article how sometimes in order to reach out to others there is a good chance that you would be able to resort to your own social networks, those that you should treasure and nurture quite a bit, because they are the ones who are going to keep feeding your interest in innovation through sharing what you know with others using social software tools as enablers and not as showstoppers. So if you are thinking about an Innovation program for your own business, ensure that it is a program not just meant for individuals who can innovate, but also for communities to be able to do their share of innovation, because the chances of success are much higher than perhaps having one or two individuals sharing away. Don’t you think? At least, that is what IBM is finding out over the last few months with the existence of ThinkPlace and its use of several different social computing components, such as tagging, RSS / Atom feeds syndication, tagclouds, etc. etc. So whoever said that social networking / computing and innovation cannot walk through hand in hand should probably think about it twice and why it didn’t work in the first place, because for many other instances it is just a new and refreshing method for keeping innovation alive!

(Oh, and don’t forget to read the additional commentary, because it is equally educational!)

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  1. Hi Dennis, thanks a lot for the feedback ! Yes, indeed, SmB would refer to Small and Medium-Size Businesses. I thought it was common knowledge to make use of that acronym, but it looks like it may not be. Either way, yes, it refers to small and medium-size business. Let me know if you would want me to update the original weblog entry. Thanks again for dropping by and for the input, Dennis.

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