At a time when public and private sector organisations are universally seeking to do more with less, being a social organisation has never been more important. The impact of cloud computing, consumer mobile and social networking technologies are transforming how enterprises drive efficiency, maintain innovation and increase motivation.

Being socially enabled means more than simply leveraging the convergence of these tools for short term productivity gains; it involves being part of a broader social organisation cultural and behavioural shift towards allowing individuals more self-direction and creativity in their work.

If everyone already understands how social is impacting the media landscape outside the firewall, for the Facebook generation entering the office can feel like going back in time. Expensive corporate IT infrastructure and outmoded practises often fail to meet the same expectations of convenience, usability and instant feedback as the (often free) services they consume on a daily basis. At the same time, traditional corporate governance mandates – normally surrounding security, compliance and intellectual property – seek to discourage their use. Whilst these concerns remain legitimate in theory, in practise they are proving difficult to maintain as employees increasingly bring their own workplace environment with them – overlooking the IT department for their preferred social toolkit. A recent independent study (http://bit.ly/8Txel9) commissioned by Cisco has confirmed that many organisations are underestimating this trend:

“The research findings spotlight an underestimation of the power and influence of social networks on businesses, and the transformation that companies need to make, not only to protect themselves, but also to encourage and benefit from the collaboration these social networks and tools afford them. Ignoring the increased usage and influence of social networking and Web 2.0 tools leaves organizations at the risk of misuse, potentially leading to the disclosure of information and misrepresentation of the company.”

Being socially enabled means getting realistic both about the behavioural trends inside an organisation and the new external challenges they pose. Part of this is being open to low investment private SaaS platforms – like Huddle – that redress the balance between corporate governance and consumer expectation.

Yet the impact of social has wider implications than simply an alteration in consumption and IT procurement trends. Collaborative social tools have the ability to change work environments into something not only more effective but also more enjoyable. The exponential growth in their popularity is as much about human psychology as corporate efficiency: people generally find these technologies useful in some way, because to do so increases their status amongst peers, because they are curious, or because the tools are just fun to use, amongst other reasons. Drive to adoption is always contingent upon what Dan Pink has termed ‘the Purpose motive’, being socially enabled is as much about understanding new social organisation motivations as it is about the technologies involved. As we strive to get more productivity out of less resources from these tools, we would do well to remember more fundamental human factors underlying why these processes work.


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