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

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Mills Spikes Consumer Social Software for IBM – Can Enterprises Afford Ignoring the Consumer Market? – Part Deux

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If you would remember, a couple of days ago, I created a weblog article under the header Mills Spikes Consumer Social Software for IBM – Can Enterprises Afford Ignoring the Consumer Market where I was actually discussing if corporations (And IBM, in particular) should dive into the social computing space while ignoring the consumer market and the innovation that has been happening in there thus far at an incredible pace. Apparently, that particular weblog entry grabbed a bit of interest from both Mike Gotta and James Governor who created some additional articles in their own weblogs, respectively. And I just thought about creating a follow up post commenting on some of the stuff that grabbed my attention while reading both items. So here it goes:

Mike’s article under the same title of "Mills Spikes Consumer Social Software for IBM – Can Enterprises Afford Ignoring the Consumer Market?":

"It is true that social software needs to provide capabilities that are not as critical in a consumer space – security, identity, compliance and so on. But it is also a mistake to dismiss the longer term convergence of "digital life" with "digital work"."

I agree with Mike in this. Social Computing within the enterprise will need to help address and fix some of the issues that traditional Web 2.0 has been having to some extent. Items like "security, identity, compliance" and so forth. But the key thing in here is that does not mean that knowledge workers would be giving up on what they have been using / producing over a period of time. On the contrary, they would want to tie into it as close as they can so that they can continue working at it, but this time around they would make it part of their own day to day workflow. That is why we get to see on a daily basis how people keep weblogging at their favourite weblogging platforms with a mix of personal and business related materials, or make use of del.icio.us as their preferred social bookmarking tool, or YouTube to store video clips, or subscribe to their favourite podcasts to digest whatever audio content, you name it. The list goes on and on and on.

People have already developed a number of different patterns in the way they would want to not only consume, but also produce, that social media that they have been exposed to all along. And if it has got to do with work, all the better. Definitely, the workplace is changing. And fast! The way we traditionally knew the workplace is no longer there. At least, it will not be for long. The border lines between the private life and the workplace are getting thinner and thinner or rather blurred, whatever. And if there is anything out there that would benefit from all this is the social capital that will continue to grow exponentially in every single organisation that decides to adopt social computing tools.

I actually think that it may not take that long, contrary to what Mike suggests. Given the pace at which everything is taking place, it will probably be happening a lot sooner, so I would suspect there would be very little time to react now if things haven’t gotten started yet.

"It is also becoming more evident that future workers are much more likely to come along with some portion of their own computing environment which they fully expect to rely on as they work and play. Organizations will increasingly lose a control over the computing experience of their workers"

From what I know this has already started, perhaps, not at the level that Mike is anticipating, but plenty of knowledge workers are starting to realise that, for instance, they could make use of the Macs in order to conduct effective work while still enjoying their own computing experience, as an example. The same thing would happen for other folks who may be using Linux or Windows based OS where they may have taken things into the next level and started to customise them to meet their own needs, as opposed to those of the companies they work for. At the end of the day most of them would probably say something along the lines of: "What does it matter? After all, if the job gets done and the customer is happy? Why not, right?"

As I said, it may not be happening at the same pace that Mike predicts, but it has already gotten started.

James Governor’s article "Why IBM’s Steve Mills Should Be Like King Canute":

James puts together a very clear case as to how that particular workforce is actually shifting around the way interactions were taking place at the workplace. In most cases most knowledge workers were actually carrying out their own work while at the office. However, nowadays that is changing and quite rapidly. As most of the tools those knowledge workers are making use of are social software related they are actually finding out that they can carry their work with them wherever they may well be. Yes, that pervasiveness in the social computing tools used is actually empowering knowledge workers to want to take not only their digital lives with them but also their digital work with them. And all of that accessible from the same set of tools: i.e. Those tools they can carry around with them. Their computer(s).

That is, perhaps, one of the main reasons as to why Mobile 2.0 is so huge at the moment and why more and more of the social software tools coming out there are starting to take the mobile market more seriously. And they should. Because whether we like it or not, it is only going to get worse. Or better, depending from where you look at it. Most companies out there would want to actually start making their workforces more mobile (As an example IBM’s is over 40% of the total workforce!) so that they have got that independence to do their jobs, while travelling, at home, at a customer site, you name it. So it would seem to be fair that at some point that border line I mentioned earlier on was going to thin a bit more and eventually blur the boundaries between work and life. It has already started and it would be difficult to stop it, I am sure, if we would want to stop it, that is, and I just don’t see that happening any time soon!

This particular trend can be seen as well in the superb article that Dion Hinchcliffe put together a couple of days ago and which James kindly links to to bring it into the conversation. Dion is actually sharing a number of different concrete examples of how this is happening and how the workforce is slowly, but steadily, changing the way things work bottom up, which, when you come to think about it, is perhaps the way workplaces should have developed in the first place.

So whoever was thinking that social computing within the Web 2.0 world is not having a massive impact in shifting the way we work and how we have been perceiving the workplace up until now should probably think about it, twice, because it is actually already happening. And fast! Thus are you ready to shift gears? Are you ready to have your say in how you would want to create, and share, content to help you get the job done? And all of that while having some fun? … Your choice.

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  1. “the future is already here, its just not evenly distributed yet”, the rise of the atomic worker, the changes are all around us, in full effect. did people choose not use Microsoft products because they lacked “security, identity, compliance and so on” – I think we all know the answer to that one.

  2. Hi James! Thanks a bunch for the additional feedback comments and for dropping by! Good stuff!

    "[…] did people choose not use Microsoft products because they lacked “security, identity, compliance and so on” – I think we all know the answer to that one."

    I couldn’t have agreed more with the above statement, I must say, and I bet that we all know the answer to that one, that is for sure. At least, I have been able to answer it for a few years now already! Things are changing, and fast, and whoever does not want to adapt to those changes and move on is going to suffer, and big time! I am just hoping that those with a need to wake up would do so soon enough for their own well being, because otherwise it is going to be a bunch of interesting times for them. We shall see.

    Again, thanks for the feedback, James! Appreciated the additional commentary.

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