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

From the blog

The Future of the WorkPlace – Social Business

Gran Canaria - Playa del Ingles' Beach As we come to wrap up another another one of those unforgettable years (2010, that is…), specially, for the Enterprise 2.0 movement and, as we come to prepare things already for 2011 and beyond, one cannot keep but continue reflecting about the real impact of Social Computing within the enterprise and how it is changing the way we think (and behave!) towards the traditional concept of work. Today, in this blog post I would want to reflect a little bit further more on what the future of the workplace is, and, more specifically, how the use of all of these social software tools is changing the way knowledge workers get their jobs done. Much smarter, but not necessarily harder. The challenge though for all of us to answer is whether that really is the future of the workplace. Or not… Welcome to Social Business!

Back in November, Imran Ali put together a rather insightful blog post over at GigaOm under the heading “The Future of Work: How Jobs Change in the Next Decade“, where he referenced a recent piece by Gartner on the changing nature of the workplace itself, specially within the next 10 years over at “Gartner Says the World of Work Will Witness 10 Changes During the Next 10 Years“. Both articles are really worth while to set the right context on how the workplace of today will definitely transform itself into the workplace of tomorrow thanks to the enormous influence of social computing within the enterprise and beyond. As a tease to help you get a grasp of what you will find in those couple of articles, I am just going to quote over here the changes they talked about:

  1. “”De-routinasation” of work
  2. Work swarms
  3. Weak Links
  4. Working with the collective
  5. Work sketch-ups
  6. Spontaneous work
  7. Simulation and experimentation
  8. Pattern sensitivity
  9. Hyperconnected
  10. My place”

I am not sure what you folks would think, but I find it rather interesting that a bunch of those changes that will be taking place, if not already!, will be coming along thanks to the emergence of social networking within the workplace. It’s probably not going to become a surprise anymore either how work is shifting away from traditional organisations, hierarchies, structures and co-located teams into distributed and virtual (social) networks and communities where a growing urge to connect, collaborate and share your knowledge across the board with other knowledge workers is probably going to become an essential skill to acquire in the years to come. Even more when large %s of the corporate world are increasingly becoming more and more distributed and mobile than ever! Which makes a perfect segway into another interesting article I would want to point out to you which I think reflects quite nicely the real impact of Enterprise 2.0 even if by just reading its title: “Can Enterprise 2.0 save the disconnected knowledge worker?” by Ron Miller.

That’s certainly another worth while read, specially, if you would want to find out plenty more how social software can help those remote knowledge workers stay connected, through their (social) networks and communities, to keep doing their work effectively. And not just to provide an opportunity to accommodate the well known virtual water cooler but also to carry out real work. And the interesting thing is that we are witnessing a growing trend of more and more businesses adopting this new set of social tools to help their knowledge workers be more in control of their own knowledge workflows and productivity, to take additional responsibility for the job(s) they are doing, and, eventually, to help them shine through sharing their passion and commitment across with those work areas they feel most identified with and interested in. Something that traditional collaborative and knowledge sharing tools didn’t manage to make it happen as effectively as social networking is nowadays.

At this point in time, I am sure you may be wondering about whether we would need to wait for another 10 years, or thereabouts, to see those changes, finally, taking place, as Gartner mentioned in their article referenced above, right? Well, we may not have to, after all. Take a look into what IBM is doing at the moment with a new initiative they have been calling The Future of the Workplace. This is coming from a large enterprise traditionally seen as rather strict, archaic, rather obsolete, very much set in their old ways, perhaps still even a dinosaur of the traditional corporate world, as it enters next year its 100th year anniversary. Well, that may not be the case anymore… Have a look and read through “Creating a new kind of workplace at IBM” by Kelly Kass.

It’s actually a rather interesting and thoughtful interview with fellow IBM colleague, and good friend, Bill Sweeney who gets to answer a whole bunch of questions about that IBM initiative called The Future of the Workplace itself, that’s been going on at IBM for over a year now. I would certainly recommend you take a look into it, if you would want to see how social computing has been transforming IBM from the bottom up to top down over the course of the years. Even BlueIQ, the Social Software Adoption program I have been working in for the last three years gets a lovely mention as well on helping address and facilitate the impact social tools have had inside and outside IBM. Here are some noteworthy quotes I thought you would be interested in reading more about further on:

“‘Any device, any place, any time’ – we don’t have that yet but it is our goal. We recognize that work isn’t a place anymore; we need to supply capabilities that are independent of employees’ locations since 50 per cent of our work force don’t work in an IBM facility. That said, 50 percent of employees have been here less than 5 years.

So whether employees use a BlackBerry or an iPad or an iPhone, whether they’re on a Mac or PC, our goal is to let employees choose their devices. We see that employees bring their own devices to work and that they don’t want multiple devices at home and at work, so we want to supply them with what they need as well as the right apps

Or this other one:

As we look at the collaborative process in its most simplest form, we try to Find, Know, Work and Recognize.

We find people to team up with to get the job done with the right technology.

We get to know them and build trust to work effectively across the team no matter what country and time zone they’re in (social computing and video help play a role in that.)

By working and recognizing our peers, we work on building reputations at the company

Like I said, a worth while read for everyone out there who would want to know further more how work nowadays is all about working smarter, not necessarily harder (that is, Collaborative, Networked, Personal), as my good friend Harold Jarche put together just recently in a rather inspiring blog entry under “Talking about working smarter“. It’s probably also not a surprise to see how IBM itself made it into Mashable’s 4 Top Employers for Social Media Professionals. It’s probably not a surprise either for most folks when I tell them I have been living that dream myself for the last 7 years, and counting!!, and how I am starting to witness how plenty of other businesses are starting to flock into new, more innovative, ways, and methods, of measuring knowledge workers’ productivity, not  by their sheer physical presence at the traditional office, but more by the results they deliver using these social tools to collaborate and share their knowledge across much more effectively with their peers, customers and business partners. Like I said at the beginning of this blog post, we don’t have to wait too long anymore! It’s just around the corner, if not there already …

Welcome to Social Business! … Are you ready?

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