Reflections from 2011 on The World of Social Media
While everyone else out there on the Internet Blogosphere gets busy blogging away their predictions for 2012 around the world of Social (And whatever other word you would want to insert right after!), Technology, the Internet and whatever else you can think of, like it seems to be happening in a rampant fashion year after year even to the point of getting people a bit tired of it all, I think I am going to spare you folks with this blog entry on my own predictions for next year and I am going to concentrate instead, perhaps, on putting together a blog post where I could reflect on what’s happened in 2011 and how that will shape up my overall personal experience for everything social.
Like I have mentioned in a previous blog post, the last 3 months have been perhaps a bit too hectic both at work and on a personal level, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had enough time to go and reflect on a few things and, most importantly, on how I feel about the overall Social Web and the Internet / Technology in general. Now, originally, I thought about putting together a massively long entry over here, but then I realise it may have well been a bit too tiring and exhausting going through it in a single go. So I have decided to split it up in a number of articles where I will also try to hint along how I will be re-shaping up my own Social Web strategy, specially, after the last few months where I have been more away from it than attached to it and somehow it’s helped me get a clearer vision of where I would want to go and where I feel things will go. Will there be convergent paths, you think? Hummm. Maybe. May be not. Let’s see.
During the course of 2011 I have embarked on a whole bunch of business travelling. A lot more than in 2010, for sure! And not just to present, attend or participate in various different conference events, but also, the vast majority to go and visit IBM customers to share the experiences of what a socially integrated enterprise is all about. You could say that my favourite topic du jour all along has been The Social Enterprise. And still going strong, if I look into what lies ahead for 2012 where that travelling agenda is going to be even more hectic! But more on that shortly…
A couple of folks though from my closer social networks keep wondering how I do it. Where do I get all of that energy and extra effort to never get tired of it and continue to move along. To be honest with you, I hate travelling. I have been travelling for most of my life, and, definitely, for most of my business life and biz travelling is no longer what it used to be. Quite the opposite! It’s no longer a pleasure, but a big drain on everyone. And perhaps on a separate blog post I will share how I really feel about business travelling altogether and what I would like to see change for upcoming years to bring back that pleasurable experience. I know a few of you would consider that impossible to achieve, but may be not. We shall see. I don’t think it’d be that difficult to just change a few things and make a big difference …
Anyway, the main reason why I never get tired of travelling is because it gives me an opportunity to do two things on a more or less regular basis; two things I was not aware of till I eventually fully experienced them this year plentiful. First, I love people! I have met so many wonderful folks this year, good old friends, and plenty new ones, who have surely make up for all of that hassle and burden of travelling, that it’s become an entire new experience where constant learning, collaboration and open knowledge sharing has happened at such deep levels that some of those conversations are still spinning in my head shaping up a lot of what I use to take the world for. Human beings were designed to be around other human beings, to socialise face to face, to learn by simply being around one another, to be challenged in healthy dialogue by those folks who always want to improve things, who want to make things better, who want to work smarter, who want to really create and leave behind an impact for which they would be remembered. It’s their legacy. Our legacy. They are the optimists, the outrageous, the heretics, the free radicals, the rebels at work who are constantly looking up for each other wanting to create and spark that energy, that brilliant idea, that can certainly change the world as we know it.
And throughout 2011 I had the huge opportunity to meet, and learn!, from a whole bunch of them! And big time! So much so that plenty of those conversations have certainly changed the way I view things, both at work, and in my private life. The best part of it is that they have also helped me learn about something very important; the second thing I mentioned above earlier on. The Social Web. Yes, we all know it from before. We all realise how critical and paramount the world of the Social Web has become not just for businesses, but also for all of our societies. For ourselves. If anything, because of a single, and rather simple, reason: the amplifying effect of our physical relationships and mutual bonds.
The Social Web is a wonderful thing! It’s changed my life and probably the lives of millions of people out there as well, but the main reason why that’s happening is not because of the unprecedented penetration and broadband reach it’s been enjoying in our society, touching every single aspect of our lives, but more because it’s helped us become even more connected than ever before. It’s helped amplify our relationships, our friendships, our reach, our connectedness, our common conscious (and unconscious) knowledge to such deeper levels that there is no way back. And probably there shouldn’t be, because all of this interconnectedness is helping us out to become better humans to our own abilities and expertise.
Throughout 2011 I have had the great opportunity to experience that; to realise that while the Web is there, there are many many more important things, specially, when that Internet access is patchy and you have got that unique opportunity to meet up, face to face, that huge amount of talent, and smart people, who you could never get tired of learning from. In the past I used to neglect that to a certain level and in the last few months, definitely, the last three, that being disconnected from the online world on a rather regular basis has helped me scratch that urge of meeting up people face to face and start a conversation and converse no matter for how long. And, boy, has that made a difference?!?! The amplifying effect from the Social Web kicks in fully after you have met those people and exchanged a few ideas, you come back home and you realise you want to keep the dialogue going. And with all of these social tools at our fingertips, it’s never been easier. Quite the opposite.
There used to be a time, in my last 10 years of having been exposed to and involved with social networking and social software, where every time I would go and meet new people, specially, at customer events, workshops, seminars and whatever else, to talk about The Social Enterprise, I used to resort to those lovely, rather informative, perhaps a bit overwhelming short video clips that tried to explain the impact of Social Media in our world. Pretty much like a la Did You Know? fashion. The latest one I have bumped into is this fantastic 2 minute and 45 seconds YouTube video clip under the suggestive heading of “The World of Social Media 2011“:
For those folks who are rather familiar with Social Media, they probably wouldn’t learn much about it from just watching it. However, it’s worth while. It will help provide you with an opportunity to discover how the Social Web has moved way and beyond the tech world and dived in, big time, in every person’s life, whether tech savvy or not. It’s become so pervasive throughout the world that in all of my biz travelling this year I didn’t have a need to use these sort of videos any longer. The conversation has stepped up. Everyone knows about the Social Web. Even folks who not so long ago were technophobes and who, right now, are in full discovery mode trying to figure out how to best make use of it for their work, as well as their personal lives.
What’s my conclusion from all of this? Well, as a starting point, one gets to realise that social networking has been there way before the Internet came into existence a few decades back. That personal (business) relationships, when carried out, nurtured and cultivated face to face, are as good as it gets. That the Social Web is not a substitute for those physical relationships but an augmentation factor that no-one can, or should, ignore to make them even better and more trustworthy. That eventually, the Social Web is unstoppable at this point in time and that those businesses that are still blocking the access to social networking sites, or the whole conversation around Social, are just missing a huge and an unprecedented opportunity to shape-up and redefine themselves to become even profitable, sustainable, caring, nurturing, purposeful and meaningful businesses. The Workplace of the Future. Our future.
Now, who dares to ignore and neglect that in 2012? Any takers? I hope not, but if you are let me share a couple of final words with you: Good Luck! (You are going to need it … )
PS. I am sure you may have noticed how at the beginning of this blog post I have included a whole bunch of links to blog entries and articles about some of the most interesting readings I have bumped into around those 2012 predictions and for some of them I may be touching base on them and for some others I think they would be relevant to see how far they may have set the stage into what lies ahead … Hope you folks enjoy reading them just as much as I did while putting together this blog entry.