The S Word

by Andrew McAfee on December 14, 2009

I ended my talk at last month’s Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco (viewable here; free registration required) by trying to be cute: I gave advice about how to fail with E2.0. My goal, of course, was to talk about good practices by highlighting bad ones. I gave six bad ideas:

  • Declare war on the enterprise
  • Allow walled gardens to flourish
  • Accentuate the negative
  • Try to replace email
  • Fall in love with features
  • Overuse the word ‘social’

On the last point, I said this about ‘social’ as a descriptor for the technologies of Enterprise 2.0:

“It’s technically accurate… [but] I have rarely come across a word that has more negative connotations to busy, pragmatic line managers inside organizations. The best thing it is is neutral… the worst thing it is is a sign that we’re going to use these tools to waste time, to goof off, to plan happy hour, to do all these social activities. The impression I get from people who make decisions… is ‘I’m not running a social club.  I’m trying to run a business here.’ ” (I accompanied this monologue with a picture intended to convey what flashes through an executive’s mind when he hears the word ‘social.’)

I was responding to a newish thread in the Webwide conversation about enterprise use of emergent social software platforms (ESSPs). I came across it in a post by Stowe Boyd:

In particular, Web 2.0 as a phenomenon is strongly tied to social tools — social networking, social media, and so on — in which the individual is primary, and asymmetric networks of relationships with other individuals form the principal mechanism for connection and information flow…

We need to switch our attention to the shifting nature of work itself, and how business needs to be reconsidered in a rapidly changing world (which includes a revolutionary social Web, notably)…

So, I have come to believe that this is the place where companies need to focus their attention: socializing the business, not adoption of Web 2.0.

And in the mission statement of the newly-formed Dachis Group:

Social Business Design is the intentional creation of dynamic and socially calibrated systems, process, and culture. The goal: improving value exchange among constituents.

Blogger and do-er Euan Semple posted that he’s in favor of ‘social business’ as both a movement and a term, and describes my “Enterprise 2.0″ as “too narrow, too corporate and too managerial”

Which would sting if it weren’t accurate. My definition is narrow, corporate, and managerial, and I’m glad to have it labeled as such. I think it’s both prudent and responsible to be circumspect about one’s claims, and I think it’s neither to assert that the old rules of society, culture, or business no longer apply because of the appearance of a network, some software that sits of top of it, and a large number of (primarily younger) people who like using it. As I wrote a little while back, Enterprise 2.0 is not THAT big a deal.

But whether or not it’s a big deal, it’s not going to be ANY deal until ESSPs and their attendant practices make their way inside organizations. And the point I was trying to make in my talk, and the one I still believe, is that keying the message / sales pitch / marketing / education effort around the word ‘social’ is a bad idea.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff evidently agrees with this. According to an article in The Industry Standard:

Salesforce was careful to position [its new offering] Chatter as a collaboration tool, not a “social this or social that” because there’s such a glut of social networking tools, [Benioff] said, and customers are more willing to pay for collaboration software.

“We really want to talk about collaboration, because that really is a budget item for our customers,” Benioff said…

Another Salesforce co-founder, Executive Vice President of Technology Parker Harris, also stayed on message with the collaboration concept in a talk with ZDNet editors (see video below). “I think about our platform as a collaboration platform,” Harris said. “You’re building applications to collaborate around data in the enterprise on a trusted system.”

The article points out that Chatter at present looks very much like Facebook-ish social software, but Benioff and his colleagues were taking pains to describe it and its value using narrow, corporate, managerial words. Does anyone want to make the case that these guys don’t know how to convince organizations to adopt new tools?

What do you think? Is social a helpful or harmful word when talking to enterprises and their managers about the new digital tools and the business practices that make use of them?  Leave a comment, please, and let us know.

  • luisalberola

    Interesting question, thanks for sharing. Should we use social or should we use collaboration ? I have to agree with you, being also a practitioner , that social is not the best word to use. I like to use collaboration and also focusing on evolving ways of working when talking to clients.

    But in fact, I think we are talking about two different realities:
    - Collaboration refers, in the business world, to a business reality: how people work together to accomplish what they are paid for, basically delivering a great customer experience; and in this field, yes, ESSPs have a great potential;
    - Social, to my mind, should be used more narrowly in the HR field. Thinking social in that field is actually very rich, as it forces companies to think about their employees as “realpeople”, that have a deeper potential than is usually accounted for in HR processes. Professional social networks and social profiles, professionnaly adapted to a corporation would come into this field.

    I've written about something similar here (in French, sorry) : http://www.talent-club.net/2009/09/15/un-os-soc

    Luis

  • http://twitter.com/MarkTamis Mark Tamis

    I think you're right, the word “Social” does not convey the business value of collaboration that a C-suite can directly relate to, and more importantly, convey to the company's shareholders as sound and strategic investment in the company's future. Why do I bring this up? Because I think this is essential for implementation and adoption. If listed companies that have changed their businesses to become more collaborative and innovative provide a higher average Return on Assets or even indexed growth in share price than companies that have not, there will be more shareholder pressure to start adoption programs.
    What do you think, would targeting the “market” be more effective than either the C-suite or the bottom-up approach. Do you have any data & analysis that correlates adoption and shareprice growth?

  • vicbrown

    Strongly agree, Andrew!

    I've been suggesting for some time that my clients position and re-label “social networking” tools and initiatives as “collaboration” tools. Those of us working to apply these tools in a business context are fostering powerful “collaborative” environments and business networks — not social networks.

    So, I'm definitely anti-social! Er… I mean… Let’s start talking about collaborating, not socializing.

    Great piece. Thanks.

    Vic

  • http://twitter.com/piewords Laurence Hart

    I think the word “social” is harmful, but not necessarily “socialize” or other derivatives. Collaboration isn't a bad word for it as long as you mash it up with Emergent and other terms that distinguish it from the collaboration of old.

    The problem is when people take it down to “social software”, “social networking” (which is a tad redundant), and “social media”. “Social” has a meaning that is not going to be changed. You might be able to change it one organization at a time, but it will have to be done for each one.

    I think “Emergent Collaborative Software Platforms” may work, or marrying Social and Collaborative. Every Web 2.0 tech is a form of collaboration, either direct or indirect.

    If we can't make use of an existing word, then we have to make one up. That is not a pleasant thought.

    -Pie

  • http://theobvious.typepad.com/blog/ euansemple

    You are right – pitching into the enterprise world using the word social is not going to work. But what is going on is inherently social and who's pitching? Aren't we just helping them understand what is going to happen to them eventually anyway – whatever we call it.

  • Phil

    Every type of software used to interact with other people is social in that it is used in the social, work, and cultural context of this group.

    As a consequence, these patterns will in some way become visible (emerge) with the use of the software. ESSPs being free form, these patterns become much more apparent than in any other type of software.

    Using the term social in this context is definetly useful. However using it to describe a type of software is not.

    Phil

  • andytedd

    A bit of a red herring Andrew. Executives have no trouble understanding concepts like social networks being the way business really gets done. If McKinsey are hired and use the S word or they read about it in McK Quarterly again no problem.

    The problem is when these kind of tools areperceived as being used for 'goofing around'. Depending on how narrow-minded the reactionaries are then commercially useful online social activity such as establishing rapport, comparing credentials, improvising, spitballing, anything that might occur as a result of serendipity etc might be considered 'goofing around'. And of course sometimes goofing around is just that – but it's going to happen with or without web 2 tools because people are people.

    Business is social. Markets are social. Good luck to anyone trying to run an unsocial business.

    As Euan says better to help them get over their misunderstanding of the word (eg your festival picture) rather than avoid using it.

  • http://personalinfocloud.com/ vanderwal

    I deeply agree with the core problem of the use of the term social and its resonance inside businesses. The problem with social has a few facets to it, but using collaboration is just as if not more problematic.

    Social with enterprise is, a bit redundant as business by its nature is social with meetings, interactions, and communications at the core of what a company does to get its products/services out. Business is also social in how it interacts with its customers and potential customers. What has been problematic over the years (many tens of years) is technology has been less than optimal in mapping to how humans are social, which inhibits optimal social interactions inside and outside an organization. Communication and the efficiency of around this focal point is essential to understand and optimize around.

    This leads me to often use social software or social tools as a means to distinguish the tools that better map to how humans in their life and work need to interact with others. These optimized tools and services with lower levels of friction most often lead to greater efficiency. Distinguishing between tools and services that get in the way of eeking out tacit knowledge to ones that ease this activity is essential, particularly in how it is shared, found, and used in the practice of an organization.

    Having done this mapping, I usually find leaving social out of the rest of the conversation. Focusing on technology pain points and the inefficiencies inherent in many of the normal enterprise tools for communications and group interactions is where the focus belongs and how these newer classes of tools and services help resolve these problems.

    Putting business and social in close proximity is not only redundant, but rather lacking in insight into how businesses think of the term social at their core (normally the upper management and finance areas). The term social business is used within some cirecles of economics and finance as a euphemism for those industry segments often related with escorts and prostitution.

    The second large problem is collaboration, which is equally if not more problematic. Collaboration is often a used a broad lazy term for any things were people work, interact, or share information. Denning and Yaholkovsky in regularly point out the severe problems with the broad use of the term collaboration and often focus on the term “real collaboration” to bring the focus of collaboration back to the original concept of people working together to accomplish a common goal and for a unified result, as in artist collaborating on creating a statue (not many versions, but one). I know you, Andrew, grasp this really well.

    Over and over I see many organizations buying “collaboration” tools with out sorting out what sort of group or shared activity problem they are trying to solve or the type of services/tools that are needed to fill the gap. Often the collaboration tool is not matched to the problem space and need, which then needs framing the various types of interactions, collections, sharing, curating, co-creation, etc. that are there. The types of tools, interaction design, and solutions are different for each type of activity and one size does not fit all (I am continually amazed how foreign this is to many).

    What do we call it? That is a tough problem as many of the terms are not precise and/or come with much baggage.

  • andytedd

    vanderwal I think am on the same page as you but is it not more the case that for a mere couple of hundred years industrial society has been less than optimal in mapping into how humans have been hard wired by evolution to be social?

    As technology has evolved it has become more closely aligned with how humans are and so now is much better at facilating their inherent 'socialness'.

    IS managers and 'time is money' Execs can kick against evolution all they like, they ain't changing it.

    As more sociologically minded professors increase their influence at business schools, and by implication at the elite consultancies and thus boardrooms, then we will see sociology become much more influential on business thinking. I am thinking of people like Gareth Jones & Rob Goffee, Richard Florida, Keith Sawyer and so on.

  • http://www.stoweboyd.com stoweboyd

    Andy –

    I profoundly disagree (see http://bit.ly/7XUECk), which is why you quote me at some length, I guess, as your foil. It is disingenuous to state on one hand that the forces at work motivating the Web's explosion are in fact social at their core, but that, for propaganda reasons, we should avoid the term.

    It's more important to challenge the bone-headed assumptions against 'social', that it connotes gossiping, goofing off, and watching porn at work. You know as well as I do that every communication innovation was challenged in exactly the same ways as it emerged, and individuals sought to use them at work. Instant messaging, email, and browsers were all greated by corporations with the same objections (see Connections, by Sproull and Lee, for example).

    After WWII, as the country was retooling, corporate executives demanded ROI studies done before rolling out telephones on every desk. They worried about gossiping, and personal calls, and wondered why people could use the phone on the wall in the common room: hadn't that worked for the past 20 years?

    It is our obligation to break through this mumbo-jumbo, and to educate those who have forgotten the past and the lessons it offers us. And we are also obligated to state what is true in practical language, and not to shift our terminology around to match the marketing of software products by Salesforce or other giants.

  • http://twitter.com/MartijnLinssen Martijn Linssen

    Social is helpful. At the end of October (http://bit.ly/1z1mFX) I thought E2.0 had changed into social business design, but who knows, we can have this discussion yet another time

    Why is business not about social? Don't you need customers? Don't you need employees, to assist your customers?

    I've been working in IT for more than a decade, on the tech side, but it's always been about business, and people. Never flipped a bit if it didn't ended up helping someone in the end

    And, i wouldn't mind some fights out there in 'the top'. Even if it's just over the word 'social'. 'Social' is going to change the way we do business, politics, everything. It's going to change our life, and a lot as well.

    So yes, please let's just keep calling it social

  • http://markdrapeau.blogspot.com cheeky_geeky

    I wrote about this in Oct: http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/10/social-network… I tend to like the word social because I think that's being honest about what we're actually doing. And I think all managers have happy hours and birthday parties and carpools for their groups. But I see the other side, too – your “managerial speak” is probably more effective. I just think it masks the truth.

  • http://www.gilyehuda.com Gil Yehuda

    um, thanks for providing the 16th topic we can argue about in the E2.0 community http://www.gilyehuda.com/enterprise-20/spark-a-… :-). That is assuming there is really an argument here. Perhaps were talking about two things: 1. how we describe it when talking about it to each other, and 2. how to best present it to those who are not familiar with this at all.

    IMO (and as I presented at the E2.0 Summit in Frankfurt), the issue here is a limitation of the expressiveness of the English language, not of the E2.0 idea. The word “social” happens to conjure images of socializing or socialism. And thus the term serves to distance the topic from the world of business. So from a very practical perspective, I first listen to my clients to see if the term would make sense to them. If not, I avoid using it. We'll do a “refresh of the intranet”, “rethink the portal strategy to make it more collaborative”, “leverage new tools to make this place feel smaller and more connected”, etc. It's simply a practical way to avoid a semantic obstacle and get to real work.

    But underlying the Enterprise 2.0 idea is indeed a social behavior that is applied to the workplace — e.g. reading social signals of importance and relevance, leveraging social channels for information flow, and developing social structures of groups and communities.

    The workplace is typically inspired by the hierarchy of government and the meritocracy of the marketplace — (the institutions of power and wealth). Human society is directed by at least three institutions: Government, Marketplace, and Community. We find community in all sorts of places (bowling leagues, churches, support groups, town meetings, PTOs, etc.) and they are very much a part of our social existence. However, many workplaces ignored (or are hostile to) setting up any infrastructure to leverage these behaviors. (Think of what labor unions did to management — imagine if we called E2.0 the unionization of business!) Instead business leaders think that stick and carrot (governance and motivators) are the only two tools they have at their disposal to manage the workforce.

    E2.0 teaches me that companies have another tool at their disposal — that being humans are naturally social and will operate with respect to the norms of a social contract. Provided the right environment, they will be creative and effective in their social environments. And therefore E2.0 is all about leveraging social instincts.

    But I agree with Andy's pragmatic advice that overusing the term will result in misunderstanding and alienation. I think we can learn from religious evangelists that there are terms they use “on the inside” when they talk to each other, and terms they use “on the outside” when they talk to their targets. And again, this is a failure of language to express meaning, not a failure in the vision or a deceptive tactic.

  • http://twitter.com/gialyons gialyons

    I can't imagine anyone pitching their ESSP wares without using more than just the word “social” these days. During the sales stage, vendors always trot out the entire tag cloud associated with “social” when trying to describe business value (just ask me – I'm a vendor). So, picking a label isn't really critical if you're using all of them in the first place.

    The issue is when you get to the implementation stage. You need to understand your organization's culture well enough to successfully position these platforms in the context of everything else IT has thrown at them for the past decade. So, calling it “collaboration tools” will just confuse the hell out of your users.

    On the other hand, if you spend time culturally branding your ESSP solution, and promote it, and communicate clearly about how it enables specific business initiatives beyond “better collaboration” – basically do everything you've never done with all those other “collaboration” tools of the past – then achieving real business value becomes probable.

    Just sayin'.

  • larryirons

    Would you make the same argument about social capital, a key term for social business design even though it is infrequently used by advocates? Stowe has it right. On the other hand, CSCW is from the 1980s rather than late 90s so using the term collaboration is even more of a dated frame of reference than his point indicates.

    I fundamentally disagree that social is redundant with business because most, if not all, of the models used by organizational behavior and HR professionals are drawn from psychology and economics. The conversation and the clients are better served by explicating what is “social” about business, rather than just assuming everyone knows. I don't know how you do that either responsibly or effectively without using the adjective, social.

    If businesses already understood how they are social then distributed members of project teams spread across the globe would agree and know who is a member of the team. Yet, research by Hinds and others demonstrates that members of distributed teams often disagree on team boundaries. In fact, a whole range of studies of collaboration in distributed teams indicates that getting to know team members as people is crucial to effective, ongoing collaboration.

  • http://www.strategic-hcm.com Jon Ingham

    larryirons, Gil Yehuda and cheeky_geeky express my view well.

    Reading social signals of importance and relevance, leveraging social channels for information flow, and developing social structures of groups and communities are all important requirements for social businesses (if not enterprise 2.0s).

    If we don't use the word social we're going to struggle to impact these areas.

    So I support Gil's suggestion to listen first and then intervene appropriately. But I'd also add to this that if we decide not to use the S word (and talk about collaboration tools), we need to acknowledge this is going to limit what we can do.

    Like cheeky_geeky, I've also posted on this previously: http://blog.social-advantage.com/2009/10/dont-g

  • http://www.gilyehuda.com Gil Yehuda

    I just read Stowe's blog (http://bit.ly/7XUECk) and understand the point, but I don't agree with the conclusion. It is important that the E2.0 community use open and honest language so that it is not a bait-and switch. But I really don't think that anyone here is suggesting that at all. And thus calling it sophistry is a bit much, IMO. I think it's more contextualisation (http://bit.ly/67POAX). We all agree that social forces are at play. The question is — should we be purists or contextualists in a foreign land? You will not be surprised that in the context of missionaries and evangelists — this is a known debate too. Some feel that the “gospel” should be preached in purity, others say to use the native icons and imagery. Old debate indeed. :-)

  • http://www.itsinsider.com itsinsider

    Just curious then, why E-Social-SPs? Did you originally embrace Social, and now are re-thinking that decision? If Social is out, what is its substitute? Enterprise Collaboration Software Platforms? I think as a small community, we should try to strive for consensus. The enemy is not us.

  • http://twitter.com/lehawes Larry Hawes

    Thanks for starting a vigorous discussion, Andy. While I understand and share the concern about finding the most effective label to use to describe Enterprise 2.0 philosophy and tools, I think this discussion is headed in the wrong direction. It is not an either/or choice between the terms “collaboration” and “social”. They mean very different things, and both are necessary in a high-performing organization

    Collaboration describes an effort by two or more individuals to work together to produce a specific, predetermined outcome — most often a document detailing policies or rules, capturing an experience and related lessons learned, or describing an opportunity and its associated return on investment. Employees are usually assigned to collaborate by a manager; they do not choose to work together.

    Social interaction is the opposite in that it does not prescribe a desired end state. The outcome is emergent or serendipitous. The focus is on enabling people to connect with each other as desired (not because they have been grouped together by a manager) so they may learn from each other and build a trusting relationship that will allow them to collaborate effectively in the future.

    “Social” is about the relationship building that is a necessary prelude to effective teamwork or “collaboration”. You can't have the latter without the former, so we must be able to speak about both in the same breath when addressing executives.

  • luisalberola

    Interesting question, thanks for sharing. Should we use social or should we use collaboration ? I have to agree with you, being also a practitioner , that social is not the best word to use. I like to use collaboration and also focusing on evolving ways of working when talking to clients.

    But in fact, I think we are talking about two different realities:
    - Collaboration refers, in the business world, to a business reality: how people work together to accomplish what they are paid for, basically delivering a great customer experience; and in this field, yes, ESSPs have a great potential;
    - Social, to my mind, should be used more narrowly in the HR field. Thinking social in that field is actually very rich, as it forces companies to think about their employees as “realpeople”, that have a deeper potential than is usually accounted for in HR processes. Professional social networks and social profiles, professionnaly adapted to a corporation would come into this field.

    I've written about something similar here (in French, sorry) : http://www.talent-club.net/2009/09/15/un-os-soc

    Luis

  • http://marktamis.com Mark Tamis

    I think you're right, the word “Social” does not convey the business value of collaboration that a C-suite can directly relate to, and more importantly, convey to the company's shareholders as sound and strategic investment in the company's future. Why do I bring this up? Because I think this is essential for implementation and adoption. If listed companies that have changed their businesses to become more collaborative and innovative provide a higher average Return on Assets or even indexed growth in share price than companies that have not, there will be more shareholder pressure to start adoption programs.

    What do you think, would targeting the “market” be more effective than either the C-suite or the bottom-up approach. Do you have any data & analysis that correlates adoption and shareprice growth?

    If shareholders demand Social Business Strategies so that their investment brings higher yields, the C-levels will comply.

  • vicbrown

    Strongly agree, Andrew!

    I've been suggesting for some time that my clients position and re-label “social networking” tools and initiatives as “collaboration” tools. Those of us working to apply these tools in a business context are fostering powerful “collaborative” environments and business networks — not social networks.

    So, I'm definitely anti-social! Er… I mean… Let’s start talking about collaborating, not socializing.

    Great piece. Thanks.

    Vic

  • http://www.twitter.com/GabrielLinder Gabriel

    the word social comes from latein (lat. socius = together, connected, allied). Lets brand it like this.

  • http://twitter.com/piewords Laurence Hart

    I think the word “social” is harmful, but not necessarily “socialize” or other derivatives. Collaboration isn't a bad word for it as long as you mash it up with Emergent and other terms that distinguish it from the collaboration of old.

    The problem is when people take it down to “social software”, “social networking” (which is a tad redundant), and “social media”. “Social” has a meaning that is not going to be changed. You might be able to change it one organization at a time, but it will have to be done for each one.

    I think “Emergent Collaborative Software Platforms” may work, or marrying Social and Collaborative. Every Web 2.0 tech is a form of collaboration, either direct or indirect.

    If we can't make use of an existing word, then we have to make one up. That is not a pleasant thought.

    -Pie

  • frankscavo

    A small point: “Salesforce was careful to position [its new offering] Chatter as a collaboration tool, not a “social this or social that”

    Then why the heck did they name it “Chatter?”

  • digiphile

    I look forward to hearing a response from the good professor that addresses the quality of the commentary represented in these comments. It may be that to reasonably explore all of them will require a new post. In the interest of centralizing, here's hoping that Prof. McAfee can carve off commentary as incisively as he might slice the holiday rump roast.

    With regard to the question he asked, however, I find myself at odds. When it comes to a community-defined term, usage drives meaning, as Mr. Safire taught me in his long-running “On Language” columns. That's perhaps even more true in business. If individuals use wikis, blogs, enterprise microsharing, IM or other tools for activities to that do not lead to improvements to morale, retention, knowledge sharing or the bottom line, then “social computing” will earn a bad rap. The development of weak tie relationships, useful collective intelligence, subject matter experts or other knowledge pools will be subsumed in a wave of dismissal, due to updates about lunch, pictures of cats or other mundane ephemera, to collect the common objections.

    When buzzwords put blinkers on business value, those objections gain provenance, even in progressive organizations. Part of the issue here may not be fatigue with social itself, or even enterprise 2.0 – it's 2.0 in general, along with repeated evangelization of the “next big thing” for decades. Change is incremental in big organizations, whether the enterprise makes widgets or want ads. Social anything has been beaten to death the past few years, whether the category is media, networking, business, computing, bookmarking, dating or news.

    Social is descriptive, recognized, a taxonomy, had historical roots and, by and large, may be somewhat toxic to overworked CIOs who want to know what something does, how it works and how much it costs.

    At least, that's been my impression. To come clean, I've used the term social media and enterprise 2.0 for years. The latter has been useful in differentiating collaborative software that is used behind the firewall from the “Web 2.0″ technologies that collectively allowed a a “read/write” to flower on the public Internet. Both capture a broader idea — that users can contribute to a network in a way that collectively corrects bad information and surfaces the best contributions.

    That's the “emergent” quality you've written about before, Professor. That same quality can be seen over time in ecosystems of the animal/vegetable/mineral variety — as opposed to those forged through silicon and neuronal activity. My gut feeling is that the benefits of any of these technologies for business have simultaneously made been easily classifiable by the term “social” and dismissed as un-serious in the same breath by conservative buyers.

    That's just a suspicion, however, and I'm not sure that prejudice bears out in younger workers who move seamlessly from work to play on Facebook, IM, texts and status updates on the social messaging platform of the moment. For them, the question may be if friends are there and if it works.

    I wonder if, in 2010, the same question will be applied to business. Are employees, clients and customers there? Does the technology function? If so, like email and the Internet in general, “social” or “collaborative technologies” become like the office phone in the 1950s – something people just pick up and use.

    For now, I'll keep listening to you all, given that your writing and consulting is what will drive usage, and adopt the lingua franca to which you ascribe meaning.

  • http://theobvious.typepad.com/blog/ euansemple

    You are right – pitching into the enterprise world using the word social is not going to work. But what is going on is inherently social and who's pitching? Aren't we just helping them understand what is going to happen to them eventually anyway – whatever we call it.

  • http://twitter.com/ariegoldshlager Arie Goldshlager

    I agree the Collaborative positioning is better than the Social Positioning, but not for one of the reasons that Andy has listed.

    The collaborative positioning is more attractive from my perspective as a recent graduate of a large enterprise. I think that enterprises are more likely to positively consider and embrace solutions for e.g., Collaborative Innovation, Collaborative Employee Relationship Management, and Collaborative Professional Development.

    I respectfully do not agree with Andy, however, that the concept should be adjusted because of the potential perspective of “busy, pragmatic line managers”

  • Phil

    Every type of software used to interact with other people is social in that it is used in the social, work, and cultural context of this group.

    As a consequence, these patterns will in some way become visible (emerge) with the use of the software. ESSPs being free form, these patterns become much more apparent than in any other type of software.

    Using the term social in this context is definetly useful. However using it to describe a type of software is not.

    Phil

  • andytedd

    A bit of a red herring Andrew. Executives have no trouble understanding concepts like social networks being the way business really gets done. If McKinsey are hired and use the S word or they read about it in McK Quarterly again no problem.

    The problem is when these kind of tools areperceived as being used for 'goofing around'. Depending on how narrow-minded the reactionaries are then commercially useful online social activity such as establishing rapport, comparing credentials, improvising, spitballing, anything that might occur as a result of serendipity etc might be considered 'goofing around'. And of course sometimes goofing around is just that – but it's going to happen with or without web 2 tools because people are people.

    Business is social. Markets are social. Good luck to anyone trying to run an unsocial business.

    As Euan says better to help them get over their misunderstanding of the word (eg your festival picture) rather than avoid using it.

  • http://twitter.com/gialyons gialyons

    Love your prose abilities, Alex! People will use the software that they know the people they need to know use. Call it what you will, but make it usable, please.

  • http://personalinfocloud.com/ vanderwal

    I deeply agree with the core problem of the use of the term social and its resonance inside businesses. The problem with social has a few facets to it, but using collaboration is just as if not more problematic.

    Social with enterprise is, a bit redundant as business by its nature is social with meetings, interactions, and communications at the core of what a company does to get its products/services out. Business is also social in how it interacts with its customers and potential customers. What has been problematic over the years (many tens of years) is technology has been less than optimal in mapping to how humans are social, which inhibits optimal social interactions inside and outside an organization. Communication and the efficiency of around this focal point is essential to understand and optimize around.

    This leads me to often use social software or social tools as a means to distinguish the tools that better map to how humans in their life and work need to interact with others. These optimized tools and services with lower levels of friction most often lead to greater efficiency. Distinguishing between tools and services that get in the way of eeking out tacit knowledge to ones that ease this activity is essential, particularly in how it is shared, found, and used in the practice of an organization.

    Having done this mapping, I usually find leaving social out of the rest of the conversation. Focusing on technology pain points and the inefficiencies inherent in many of the normal enterprise tools for communications and group interactions is where the focus belongs and how these newer classes of tools and services help resolve these problems.

    Putting business and social in close proximity is not only redundant, but rather lacking in insight into how businesses think of the term social at their core (normally the upper management and finance areas). The term social business is used within some cirecles of economics and finance as a euphemism for those industry segments often related with escorts and prostitution.

    The second large problem is collaboration, which is equally if not more problematic. Collaboration is often a used a broad lazy term for any things were people work, interact, or share information. Denning and Yaholkovsky in regularly point out the severe problems with the broad use of the term collaboration and often focus on the term “real collaboration” to bring the focus of collaboration back to the original concept of people working together to accomplish a common goal and for a unified result, as in artist collaborating on creating a statue (not many versions, but one). I know you, Andrew, grasp this really well.

    Over and over I see many organizations buying “collaboration” tools with out sorting out what sort of group or shared activity problem they are trying to solve or the type of services/tools that are needed to fill the gap. Often the collaboration tool is not matched to the problem space and need, which then needs framing the various types of interactions, collections, sharing, curating, co-creation, etc. that are there. The types of tools, interaction design, and solutions are different for each type of activity and one size does not fit all (I am continually amazed how foreign this is to many).

    What do we call it? That is a tough problem as many of the terms are not precise and/or come with much baggage.

  • andytedd

    vanderwal I think am on the same page as you but is it not more the case that for a mere couple of hundred years industrial society has been less than optimal in mapping into how humans have been hard wired by evolution to be social?

    As technology has evolved it has become more closely aligned with how humans are and so now is much better at facilating their inherent 'socialness'.

    IS managers and 'time is money' Execs can kick against evolution all they like, they ain't changing it.

    As more sociologically minded professors increase their influence at business schools, and by implication at the elite consultancies and thus boardrooms, then we will see sociology become much more influential on business thinking. I am thinking of people like Gareth Jones & Rob Goffee, Richard Florida, Keith Sawyer and so on.

  • http://www.stoweboyd.com stoweboyd

    Andy –

    I profoundly disagree (see http://bit.ly/7XUECk), which is why you quote me at some length, I guess, as your foil. It is disingenuous to state on one hand that the forces at work motivating the Web's explosion are in fact social at their core, but that, for propaganda reasons, we should avoid the term.

    It's more important to challenge the bone-headed assumptions against 'social', that it connotes gossiping, goofing off, and watching porn at work. You know as well as I do that every communication innovation was challenged in exactly the same ways as it emerged, as individuals sought to use them at work. Instant messaging, email, and browsers were all greeted by corporations with the same objections (see Connections, by Sproull and Lee, for example).

    After WWII, as the country was retooling, corporate executives demanded ROI studies done before rolling out telephones on every desk. They worried about gossiping, and personal calls, and wondered why people could use the phone on the wall in the common room: hadn't that worked for the past 20 years?

    It is our obligation to break through this mumbo-jumbo, and to educate those who have forgotten the past and the lessons it offers us. And we are also obligated to state what is true in practical language, and not to shift our terminology around to match the marketing of software products by Salesforce or other giants. The fact that they, or boomer executives, are comfortable with 'collaboration' or other recycled terms from 1997 is beside the point. Social tools are inherently different from the collaboration technology products of the past, specifically because they start with different goals and operate on different models of connection. Calling them 'collaboration tools' is like pouring wine in a beer bottle and calling it Budweiser.

    I wrote a longish piece on this controversy recently, which you didn't cite: http://bit.ly/4pSuS6. In that post, The Sum Of All Fears: The Social Business Naysayers, I suggested that this disagreement represents a paradigm shift, as Kuhn described it, and we have two groups emerging with incommensurate world views, views that simply cannot be reconciled. What's your take on that?

  • martijnlinssen

    Social is helpful. At the end of October (http://bit.ly/1z1mFX) I thought E2.0 had changed into social business design, but who knows, we can have this discussion yet another time

    Why is business not about social? Don't you need customers? Don't you need employees, to assist your customers?

    I've been working in IT for more than a decade, on the tech side, but it's always been about business, and people. Never flipped a bit if it didn't ended up helping someone in the end

    And, i wouldn't mind some fights out there in 'the top'. Even if it's just over the word 'social'. 'Social' is going to change the way we do business, politics, everything. It's going to change our life, and a lot as well.

    So yes, please let's just keep calling it social

  • http://markdrapeau.blogspot.com cheeky_geeky

    I wrote about this in Oct: http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/10/social-network… I tend to like the word social because I think that's being honest about what we're actually doing. And I think all managers have happy hours and birthday parties and carpools for their groups. But I see the other side, too – your “managerial speak” is probably more effective. I just think it masks the truth.

  • http://twitter.com/kmullins Kevin Mullins

    This is a great discussion with many excellent comments.

    Personally, I prefer “Enterprise Social Computing” to Enterprise 2.0 or just “Social” because many non-technology folks still do not know the concepts surrounding Enterprise 2.0 but do understand the concepts surrounding Social, and when framed with Enterprise Computing, the point while still vague is understood.

    But aside from the terminology, isn't it the concepts that we want to get across to the business, and the benefits of improved collaboration which lead to improved communications and improved business process. If you are working with a Business Manager on a process or application change and if you are trying to integrate E2.0 tools into the business process, you will have the opportunity to make the case for improved collaboration and communication with or without the Social word.

    So from my perspective, it is a matter of preference if you use it or not, just as long as you communicated effectively to the Business Manager and his superiors.

  • http://www.gilyehuda.com Gil Yehuda

    um, thanks for providing the 16th topic we can argue about in the E2.0 community http://www.gilyehuda.com/enterprise-20/spark-a-… :-). That is assuming there is really an argument here. Perhaps were talking about two things: 1. how we describe it when talking about it to each other, and 2. how to best present it to those who are not familiar with this at all.

    IMO (and as I presented at the E2.0 Summit in Frankfurt), the issue here is a limitation of the expressiveness of the English language, not of the E2.0 idea. The word “social” happens to conjure images of socializing or socialism. And thus the term serves to distance the topic from the world of business. So from a very practical perspective, I first listen to my clients to see if the term would make sense to them. If not, I avoid using it. We'll do a “refresh of the intranet”, “rethink the portal strategy to make it more collaborative”, “leverage new tools to make this place feel smaller and more connected”, etc. It's simply a practical way to avoid a semantic obstacle and get to real work.

    But underlying the Enterprise 2.0 idea is indeed a social behavior that is applied to the workplace — e.g. reading social signals of importance and relevance, leveraging social channels for information flow, and developing social structures of groups and communities.

    The workplace is typically inspired by the hierarchy of government and the meritocracy of the marketplace — (the institutions of power and wealth). Human society is directed by at least three institutions: Government, Marketplace, and Community. We find community in all sorts of places (bowling leagues, churches, support groups, town meetings, PTOs, etc.) and they are very much a part of our social existence. However, many workplaces ignored (or are hostile to) setting up any infrastructure to leverage these behaviors. (Think of what labor unions did to management — imagine if we called E2.0 the unionization of business!) Instead business leaders think that stick and carrot (governance and motivators) are the only two tools they have at their disposal to manage the workforce.

    E2.0 teaches me that companies have another tool at their disposal — that being humans are naturally social and will operate with respect to the norms of a social contract. Provided the right environment, they will be creative and effective in their social environments. And therefore E2.0 is all about leveraging social instincts.

    But I agree with Andy's pragmatic advice that overusing the term will result in misunderstanding and alienation. I think we can learn from religious evangelists that there are terms they use “on the inside” when they talk to each other, and terms they use “on the outside” when they talk to their targets. And again, this is a failure of language to express meaning, not a failure in the vision or a deceptive tactic.

  • http://twitter.com/gialyons gialyons

    I can't imagine anyone pitching their ESSP wares without using more than just the word “social” these days. During the sales stage, vendors always trot out the entire tag cloud associated with “social” when trying to describe business value (just ask me – I'm a vendor). So, picking a label isn't really critical if you're using all of them in the first place.

    The issue is when you get to the implementation stage. You need to understand your organization's culture well enough to successfully position these platforms in the context of everything else IT has thrown at them for the past decade. So, calling it “collaboration tools” will just confuse the hell out of your users.

    On the other hand, if you spend time culturally branding your ESSP solution, and promote it, and communicate clearly about how it enables specific business initiatives beyond “better collaboration” – basically do everything you've never done with all those other “collaboration” tools of the past – then achieving real business value becomes probable.

    Just sayin'.

  • larryirons

    Would you make the same argument about social capital, a key term for social business design even though it is infrequently used by advocates? Stowe has it right. On the other hand, CSCW is from the 1980s rather than late 90s so using the term collaboration is even more of a dated frame of reference than his point indicates.

    I fundamentally disagree that social is redundant with business because most, if not all, of the models used by organizational behavior and HR professionals are drawn from psychology and economics. The conversation and the clients are better served by explicating what is “social” about business, rather than just assuming everyone knows. I don't know how you do that either responsibly or effectively without using the adjective, social.

    If businesses already understood how they are social then distributed members of project teams spread across the globe would agree and know who is a member of the team. Yet, research by Hinds and others demonstrates that members of distributed teams often disagree on team boundaries. In fact, a whole range of studies of collaboration in distributed teams indicates that getting to know team members as people is crucial to effective, ongoing collaboration.

  • http://www.strategic-hcm.com Jon Ingham

    larryirons, Gil Yehuda and cheeky_geeky express my view well.

    Reading social signals of importance and relevance, leveraging social channels for information flow, and developing social structures of groups and communities are all important requirements for social businesses (if not enterprise 2.0s).

    If we don't use the word social we're going to struggle to impact these areas.

    So I support Gil's suggestion to listen first and then intervene appropriately. But I'd also add to this that if we decide not to use the S word (and talk about collaboration tools), we need to acknowledge this is going to limit what we can do.

    Like cheeky_geeky, I've also posted on this previously: http://blog.social-advantage.com/2009/10/dont-g

  • http://www.gilyehuda.com Gil Yehuda

    I just read Stowe's blog (http://bit.ly/7XUECk) and understand the point, but I don't agree with the conclusion. It is important that the E2.0 community use open and honest language so that it is not a bait-and switch. But I really don't think that anyone here is suggesting that at all. And thus calling it sophistry is a bit much, IMO. I think it's more contextualisation (http://bit.ly/67POAX). We all agree that social forces are at play. The question is — should we be purists or contextualists in a foreign land? You will not be surprised that in the context of missionaries and evangelists — this is a known debate too. Some feel that the “gospel” should be preached in purity, others say to use the native icons and imagery. Old debate indeed. :-)

  • http://www.itsinsider.com itsinsider

    Just curious then, why E-Social-SPs? Did you originally embrace Social, and now are re-thinking that decision? If Social is out, what is its substitute? Enterprise Collaboration Software Platforms? I think as a small community, we should try to strive for consensus. The enemy is not us.

  • http://twitter.com/lehawes Larry Hawes

    Thanks for starting a vigorous discussion, Andy. While I understand and share the concern about finding the most effective label to use to describe Enterprise 2.0 philosophy and tools, I think this discussion is headed in the wrong direction. It is not an either/or choice between the terms “collaboration” and “social”. They mean very different things, and both are necessary in a high-performing organization

    Collaboration describes an effort by two or more individuals to work together to produce a specific, predetermined outcome — most often a document detailing policies or rules, capturing an experience and related lessons learned, or describing an opportunity and its associated return on investment. Employees are usually assigned to collaborate by a manager; they do not choose to work together.

    Social interaction is the opposite in that it does not prescribe a desired end state. The outcome is emergent or serendipitous. The focus is on enabling people to connect with each other as desired (not because they have been grouped together by a manager) so they may learn from each other and build a trusting relationship that will allow them to collaborate effectively in the future.

    “Social” is about the relationship building that is a necessary prelude to effective teamwork or “collaboration”. You can't have the latter without the former, so we must be able to speak about both in the same breath when addressing executives.

  • frankscavo

    A small point: “Salesforce was careful to position [its new offering] Chatter as a collaboration tool, not a “social this or social that”

    Then why the heck did they name it “Chatter?”

  • digiphile

    I look forward to hearing a response from the good professor that addresses the quality of the commentary represented in these comments. It may be that to reasonably explore all of them will require a new post. In the interest of centralizing, here's hoping that Prof. McAfee can carve off commentary as incisively as he might slice the holiday rump roast.

    With regard to the question he asked, however, I find myself at odds. When it comes to a community-defined term, usage drives meaning, as Mr. Safire taught me in his long-running “On Language” columns. That's perhaps even more true in business. If individuals use wikis, blogs, enterprise microsharing, IM or other tools for activities to that do not lead to improvements to morale, retention, knowledge sharing or the bottom line, then “social computing” will earn a bad rap. The development of weak tie relationships, useful collective intelligence, subject matter experts or other knowledge pools will be subsumed in a wave of dismissal, due to updates about lunch, pictures of cats or other mundane ephemera, to collect the common objections.

    When buzzwords put blinkers on business value, those objections gain provenance, even in progressive organizations. Part of the issue here may not be fatigue with social itself, or even enterprise 2.0 – it's 2.0 in general, along with repeated evangelization of the “next big thing” for decades. Change is incremental in big organizations, whether the enterprise makes widgets or want ads. Social anything has been beaten to death the past few years, whether the category is media, networking, business, computing, bookmarking, dating or news.

    Social is descriptive, recognized, a taxonomy, had historical roots and, by and large, may be somewhat toxic to overworked CIOs who want to know what something does, how it works and how much it costs.

    At least, that's been my impression. To come clean, I've used the term social media and enterprise 2.0 for years. The latter has been useful in differentiating collaborative software that is used behind the firewall from the “Web 2.0″ technologies that collectively allowed a a “read/write” to flower on the public Internet. Both capture a broader idea — that users can contribute to a network in a way that collectively corrects bad information and surfaces the best contributions.

    That's the “emergent” quality you've written about before, Professor. That same quality can be seen over time in ecosystems of the animal/vegetable/mineral variety — as opposed to those forged through silicon and neuronal activity. My gut feeling is that the benefits of any of these technologies for business have simultaneously made been easily classifiable by the term “social” and dismissed as un-serious in the same breath by conservative buyers.

    That's just a suspicion, however, and I'm not sure that prejudice bears out in younger workers who move seamlessly from work to play on Facebook, IM, texts and status updates on the social messaging platform of the moment. For them, the question may be if friends are there and if it works.

    I wonder if, in 2010, the same question will be applied to business. Are employees, clients and customers there? Does the technology function? If so, like email and the Internet in general, “social” or “collaborative technologies” become like the office phone in the 1950s – something people just pick up and use.

    For now, I'll keep listening to you all, given that your writing and consulting is what will drive usage, and adopt the lingua franca to which you ascribe meaning.

  • http://twitter.com/ariegoldshlager Arie Goldshlager

    I agree with Andy and Salesforce.com that the collaborative positioning is better than the social positioning.

    The collaborative positioning is more attractive from my perspective as a recent graduate of a large enterprise. Enterprises are more likely to positively consider and acquire “collaboration platforms” because this positioning is more directly related to the enterprise purposes and objectives.

    I am however not proposing the collaborative positioning just to accommodate the potential misperceptions of “busy, pragmatic line managers” . The collaborative concept is in my view more closely aligned with the jobs that these managers need to get done.

  • http://twitter.com/gialyons gialyons

    Love your prose abilities, Alex! People will use the software that they know the people they need to know use. Call it what you will, but make it usable, please.

  • Kathy Sierra

    The word “social” has powerful emotional hooks for most people, some good, some bad. I am one of those with an instant, knee-jerk, bad reaction to “social” anything. So, while reading this post, my first reaction was my usual — yes, stay away from “social”.

    But then, reading Stowe and Euan, I'm rethinking that.

    It's got to be more sustainable to just… be honest about it rather than 'rebranding' it with some other more palatable–but less truthful–word. Besides, it's not the ACTUAL social aspects of these tools that's a problem — it's the *perception* (or rather misperception) of what “social” means.

    Perhaps it really is just a matter of rehab for the word “social”, restoring it to its earlier and more meaningful definition. Yes, that's a little more work… but if a company chokes on the word “social”, a euphemism is not the answer. Education is.

  • http://twitter.com/kmullins Kevin Mullins

    This is a great discussion with many excellent comments.

    Personally, I prefer “Enterprise Social Computing” to Enterprise 2.0 or just “Social” because many non-technology folks still do not know the concepts surrounding Enterprise 2.0 but do understand the concepts surrounding Social, and when framed with Enterprise Computing, the point while still vague is understood.

    But aside from the terminology, isn't it the concepts that we want to get across to the business, and the benefits of improved collaboration which lead to improved communications and improved business process. If you are working with a Business Manager on a process or application change and if you are trying to integrate E2.0 tools into the business process, you will have the opportunity to make the case for improved collaboration and communication with or without the Social word.

    So from my perspective, it is a matter of preference if you use it or not, just as long as you communicated effectively to the Business Manager and his superiors.

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  • http://www.headshift.com/ Lee Bryant

    Late to the party as ever (I'm on holiday) but I agree with Stowe and Euan.

    Also, isn't it the role of academics to provide validation to the tactics of people like salesforce.com rather than the other way around? I don't get why you are so into tactical considerations rather than, say, research or breaking new ground. I am no longer even sure whether you intended your Woodstock and socialism slides ironically (i.e. the Woodstock generation grew up to pursue skewed business goals, resulting in the corporate socialism of TARP etc.), or whether you actually believe businesses are right to think about hippies and socialists when they hear the word social.

    For me, the goal of social business is better business, not just change for its own sake, or change to make businesses nicer. If I were a tool seller, it might be logical to sell spades labelled as 'large trowels' if that made the buyer comfortable; but I am not, so I don't. Instead, I try to seek out smart people and smart companies who see competitive advantage in building Twenty-First Century organisations that take advantage of the affordances offered by contemporary technology, culture and practise, just like the the Twentieth-Century corporations did with the telegraph, railways and other innovations of their time. And, of course, the term competitive advantage would be pretty meaningless if they all got it ;-)

    Surely, from an academic point of view, the word social is a least a correct descriptor of the new way we are using technology, as a previous commenter suggested regarding the term social capital? Older terms such as collaboration or CSCW are not going to cut it, in particular because they describe only direct, intentional collaboration and not (for example) collective intelligence, ambient information sharing and other forms of indirect socialisation. That which is helpful in the short-term may be harmful in the long-term.

    I don't disagree with peoples' motivations here or their freedom to use whatever terms that work for them (FWIW I don't think we need consensus either), but I am surprised by the defeatism of not using a term most of us seem to agree is factually correct because it might frighten the horses.

  • http://twitter.com/ruveng Ruven Gotz

    I think that ‘social’ will become a less loaded word over the next couple of years and that its current ‘goof off’ connotation will evolve. However, until that happens, replacing it with ‘collaboration’ is incorrect and misleading. People who have some relationship with each other collaborate when they work together to produce a result. That result is usually a document of some type. Modern collaboration systems aim to make it easier for people to work together on those documents, and then make the results easy for others to find and use.

    The ‘social’ side comes into the equation when we talk about people who have a relationship with each other. These people are likely to be part of a large organization or geographically separated (and possibly in different time-zones), or they may work for loosely connected entities. Social (from a business/ROI perspective) means building tools that let people who SHOULD have a relationship find each other and then, once found, deepen that relationship as a means to improving the opportunities for and the quality of their resulting collaboration.

    ‘Social’ is a term that will evolve and, as others note below, context needs to be set. In the mean time, we use the term ECM (Enterprise Content Management) for the document side of the equation. I like ERM (Enterprise Relationship Management) for the social side.

  • BillSeitz

    It smells like the big meta-question is what you are selling to whom. If you are trying to sell software to enterprises and want to reduce objection-oriented discussions, then avoiding the word “social” probably makes sense.

    On the other hand, if you're trying to either change the ways that enterprises think about people and processes, or that people outside enterprises think about the future of economies and organizations, then a rich discussion about embracing implicit knowledge and human pattern-recognition and emergent group-forming, all via loosely-structured social software, seems more appropriate.

  • http://www.headshift.com/ Lee Bryant

    Late to the party as ever (I'm on holiday) but I agree with Stowe and Euan.

    Also, isn't it the role of academics to provide validation to the tactics of people like salesforce.com rather than the other way around? I don't get why you are so into tactical considerations rather than, say, research or breaking new ground. I am no longer even sure whether you intended your Woodstock and socialism slides ironically (i.e. the Woodstock generation grew up to pursue skewed business goals, resulting in the corporate socialism of TARP etc.), or whether you actually believe businesses are right to think about hippies and socialists when they hear the word social.

    For me, the goal of social business is better business, not just change for its own sake, or change to make businesses nicer. If I were a tool seller, it might be logical to sell spades labelled as 'large trowels' if that made the buyer comfortable; but I am not, so I don't. Instead, I try to seek out smart people and smart companies who see competitive advantage in building Twenty-First Century organisations that take advantage of the affordances offered by contemporary technology, culture and practise, just like the the Twentieth-Century corporations did with the telegraph, railways and other innovations of their time. And, of course, the term competitive advantage would be pretty meaningless if they all got it ;-)

    Surely, from an academic point of view, the word social is a least a correct descriptor of the new way we are using technology, as a previous commenter suggested regarding the term social capital? Older terms such as collaboration or CSCW are not going to cut it, in particular because they describe only direct, intentional collaboration and not (for example) collective intelligence, ambient information sharing and other forms of indirect socialisation. That which is helpful in the short-term may be harmful in the long-term.

    I don't disagree with peoples' motivations here or their freedom to use whatever terms that work for them (FWIW I don't think we need consensus either), but I am surprised by the defeatism of not using a term most of us seem to agree is factually correct because it might frighten the horses.

  • http://twitter.com/ruveng Ruven Gotz

    I think that ‘social’ will become a less loaded word over the next couple of years and that its current ‘goof off’ connotation will evolve. However, until that happens, replacing it with ‘collaboration’ is incorrect and misleading. People who have some relationship with each other collaborate when they work together to produce a result. That result is usually a document of some type. Modern collaboration systems aim to make it easier for people to work together on those documents, and then make the results easy for others to find and use.

    The ‘social’ side comes into the equation when we talk about people who have a relationship with each other. These people are likely to be part of a large organization or geographically separated (and possibly in different time-zones), or they may work for loosely connected entities. Social (from a business/ROI perspective) means building tools that let people who SHOULD have a relationship find each other and then, once found, deepen that relationship as a means to improving the opportunities for and the quality of their resulting collaboration.

    ‘Social’ is a term that will evolve and, as others note below, context needs to be set. In the mean time, we use the term ECM (Enterprise Content Management) for the document side of the equation. I like ERM (Enterprise Relationship Management) for the social side.

  • BillSeitz

    It smells like the big meta-question is what you are selling to whom. If you are trying to sell software to enterprises and want to reduce objection-oriented discussions, then avoiding the word “social” probably makes sense.

    On the other hand, if you're trying to either change the ways that enterprises think about people and processes, or that people outside enterprises think about the future of economies and organizations, then a rich discussion about embracing implicit knowledge and human pattern-recognition and emergent group-forming, all via loosely-structured social software, seems more appropriate.

  • meganmurray

    There are a number of passionate and thoughtful comments here. I appreciate the time everyone's spent offering up perspective. As someone within an organization who are deep in the work of adoption (and having a great deal of success thanks) the argument is a little silly to me. I know where I can and cannot use the term social. Some are ready for it, some are not. We've got that. Over time this argument will only become increasingly irrelevant.

    I also think it's silly to assume that we can simply write off users/leaders who aren't getting it as being “bone headed” or in any way irrelevant. Inside of a vast enterprise we've got a spectrum of users/leaders to deal with. Many of which have no idea what we are talking about. That doesn't make their buy-in any less needed. If they aren't responsible for the decisions, they are likely responsible for a large bit of information the organization will want to retain at some point. I'll need them as a user. Waiting until they retire to experience less resistance isn't the answer. We have to find actionable ways to bring them into the fold. Often that means that I have to speak their language, and not the other way around. It's negotiation. We all do it.

    We are all very passionate about our ideas on E20. The guy down the hall could care less. He's got work to do. Just give him a tool that works. Can we get back to work now? ;)

  • http://gieremki.pl gieremki

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  • http://twitter.com/MeganMurray Megan Murray

    There are a number of passionate and thoughtful comments here. I appreciate the time everyone's spent offering up perspective. As someone within an organization who are deep in the work of adoption (and having a great deal of success thanks) the argument is a little silly to me. I know where I can and cannot use the term social. Some are ready for it, some are not. We've got that. Over time this argument will only become increasingly irrelevant.

    I also think it's silly to assume that we can simply write off users/leaders who aren't getting it as being “bone headed” or in any way irrelevant. Inside of a vast enterprise we've got a spectrum of users/leaders to deal with. Many of which have no idea what we are talking about. That doesn't make their buy-in any less needed. If they aren't responsible for the decisions, they are likely responsible for a large bit of information the organization will want to retain at some point. I'll need them as a user. Waiting until they retire to experience less resistance isn't the answer. We have to find actionable ways to bring them into the fold. Often that means that I have to speak their language, and not the other way around. It's negotiation. We all do it.

    We are all very passionate about our ideas on E20. The guy down the hall could care less. He's got work to do. Just give him a tool that works. Can we get back to work now? ;)

  • dhaddenfreebalance

    “Social” seems to imply 'not work'. But, social networking and communications is an integral part of business today. Computing solutions have focused on the more structural and procedural aspects of work. Hence, the attraction of “business process management” and “business process re-engineering”. “Structural”, another S word. Also hierarchical.
    Structural processes can benefit from collaborative technologies that we call Enterprise 2.0 – such as documenting why a procurement or hiring decision was made.
    Social processes involve creativity, brainstorming, seeking out expertise, outreach to employees + customers etc. Most pre-E 2.0 tools to accomplish these functions were structural in context, about 'command and control'. These have proven somewhat inflexible in driving innovation and improved customer service.
    Perhaps the way to show value for E 2.0 is to describe the limitations of the other S word

  • dhaddenfreebalance

    expansion on my views of “Social” and “Structural” at http://www.freebalance.com/blog/?p=711

  • dhaddenfreebalance

    “Social” seems to imply 'not work'. But, social networking and communications is an integral part of business today. Computing solutions have focused on the more structural and procedural aspects of work. Hence, the attraction of “business process management” and “business process re-engineering”. “Structural”, another S word. Also hierarchical.
    Structural processes can benefit from collaborative technologies that we call Enterprise 2.0 – such as documenting why a procurement or hiring decision was made.
    Social processes involve creativity, brainstorming, seeking out expertise, outreach to employees + customers etc. Most pre-E 2.0 tools to accomplish these functions were structural in context, about 'command and control'. These have proven somewhat inflexible in driving innovation and improved customer service.
    Perhaps the way to show value for E 2.0 is to describe the limitations of the other S word

  • http://twitter.com/ariegoldshlager Arie Goldshlager

    Andy,

    [Following up on my last comment]

    I propose to address the “S” [Collaborative v Social] issue by leveraging the “Purpose Brand” concept offered by Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook, and Taddy Hall in their Harvard Business Review “Marketing Malpractice: The Cause and the Cure” article:

    http://harvardbusiness.org/products/R0512D/R051

    This concept can be applied to Enterprise 2.0 by answering the following questions:

    1) Who are the Enterprise 2.0 Customers?

    2) What jobs do they want to get done?

    [These jobs should be framed in terms of “quarter-inch holes” and not “quarter-inch drills”.]

    3) What Enterprise 2.0 products or services these customers can hire to perform those jobs?

    I think this conversation will likely produce the correct positioning for Enterprise 2.0. It will also facilitate development of more effective and marketable solutions.

    Thanks,

    Arie.

  • http://twitter.com/cflanagan Claire Flanagan

    I couldn't agree more with Gil on this point. And here's why:

    1. As professionals in this area, we need a common framework within which to operate. This gives us a common language and an understanding of what's required to investigate, evaluate and deploy the tools that Enterprise 2.0 promises. So yes we need to come up with some language and jargon to use with each other.

    2. However as internal evangelists, who need to bring the value proposition inside the company, it is our job to know our company. We need to do our homework, know our culture, know our strategy and talk the language of our execs and our stakeholders. If that means “Social Collaboration” sells, then that's what we, as internal evangelists should use as we shape and sell the business case inside our company. If “social” is a no-no word, then you use something else, “Enterprise 2.0″, “Business Collaboration”, etc.

    But I feel we talk and worry too much amongst ourselves about whether we use social or not. The reality is that there is great capability in these new tools that companies have wanted for years. We need our employees to collaborate, break down silos, find experts, and collapse time zone barriers.

    We need to worry more about painting this picture for our executives and making this picture so compelling in our business case. We need to tell the story of how these tools do these very important things. When we focus on this part of our business case – then it’s less about what you call it – and more about value for the business.

    This is ‘talking the executive’s language’ that I place so much emphasis on. And doing that is unique for each one of us as all of those variables (culture, politics, company strategy, etc) are all different for each of our companies. There’s no cookie cutter way to make the business case.

    So I suggest that it is the job of the internal evangelist to translate the jargon to something that uniquely fits one's own company strategy and culture.

  • dhaddenfreebalance

    expansion on my views of “Social” and “Structural” at http://www.freebalance.com/blog/?p=711

  • http://www.iibsonline.com/ John S.

    As a student from business school Bangalore, this seems to me as the definition of Social Media Marketing techniques (when the word “Social” is repeated many times in this blog post), is this the same or it differs from the one which you are speaking about in this particular blog post. Please give out more information regarding the same, and do let us know the difference between both the things.

  • http://twitter.com/ariegoldshlager Arie Goldshlager

    Andy,

    [Following up on my last comment]

    I propose to address the “S” [Collaborative v Social] Positioning issue by leveraging the “Purpose Brand” concept offered by Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook, and Taddy Hall in their Harvard Business Review “Marketing Malpractice: The Cause and the Cure” article:

    http://harvardbusiness.org/products/R0512D/R051

    This concept can be applied to Enterprise 2.0 by answering the following questions:

    1) Who are the Enterprise 2.0 Customers?

    2) What jobs do they want to get done?

    [These jobs should be framed in terms of “quarter-inch holes” and not “quarter-inch drills”.]

    3) What Enterprise 2.0 products or services these customers can hire to perform those jobs?

    I think this conversation will likely produce the correct positioning for Enterprise 2.0. It will also facilitate development of more effective and marketable solutions.

    Thanks,

    Arie.

  • Claire Flanagan

    I couldn't agree more with Gil on this point. And here's why:

    1. As professionals in this area, we need a common framework within which to operate. This gives us a common language and an understanding of what's required to investigate, evaluate and deploy the tools that Enterprise 2.0 promises. So yes we need to come up with some language and jargon to use with each other.

    2. However as internal evangelists, who need to bring the value proposition inside the company, it is our job to know our company. We need to do our homework, know our culture, know our strategy and talk the language of our execs and our stakeholders. If that means “Social Collaboration” sells, then that's what we, as internal evangelists should use as we shape and sell the business case inside our company. If “social” is a no-no word, then you use something else, “Enterprise 2.0″, “Business Collaboration”, etc.

    But I feel we talk and worry too much amongst ourselves about whether we use social or not. The reality is that there is great capability in these new tools that companies have wanted for years. We need our employees to collaborate, break down silos, find experts, and collapse time zone barriers.

    We need to worry more about painting this picture for our executives and making this picture so compelling in our business case. We need to tell the story of how these tools do these very important things. When we focus on this part of our business case – then it’s less about what you call it – and more about value for the business.

    This is ‘talking the executive’s language’ that I place so much emphasis on. And doing that is unique for each one of us as all of those variables (culture, politics, company strategy, etc) are all different for each of our companies. There’s no cookie cutter way to make the business case.

    So I suggest that it is the job of the internal evangelist to translate the jargon to something that uniquely fits one's own company strategy and culture.

  • http://www.JonERP.com/ Jon Reed

    “Salesforce was careful to position [its new offering] Chatter as a collaboration tool, not a “social this or social that” because there’s such a glut of social networking tools, [Benioff] said.” Fair enough, and seems smart to me.

    But Andrew, why then did they call it Chatter?

    All the positioning in the world can't change the tone the name sets.

  • http://www.iibsonline.com/ John S.

    As a student from business school Bangalore, this seems to me as the definition of Social Media Marketing techniques (when the word “Social” is repeated many times in this blog post), is this the same or it differs from the one which you are speaking about in this particular blog post. Please give out more information regarding the same, and do let us know the difference between both the things.

  • http://www.duperrin.com/english Bertrand Duperrin

    Sorry for coming after the battle but I'm on Holiday where the lack of reliable access to the net makes me become less…social.

    I rencently listed social as one of the 2.0 words that have to be used cautiously with “real” managers. http://bit.ly/5UBrR5

    I have to admit that, whatever my opinion on the word could be, using it is not always comfortable.

    In the one hand, I find the word relevant because I understand what it means and all the context around. It won't be the first word having different (and sometimes opposite) meanings.

    In the other hand I have to admit that not everybody understands it as we do. I thought it was essentially an European (and mostly French) issue but it appears that even elsewhere “social” has a not-work-related, not serious and sometimes counter-work connotation. Gil mentioned his speech at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Germany and it's the same in many countries. I won't list what “social” makes french managers and entrepreneurs think about (despite it would be quite funny) but one example will be enough ; the expression we usually use for being on strike is “social movement”.

    This makes me think of two things :

    - since we're having global discussions for global issues at global companies, we may be aware of having cross-cultural (buzz)words. As Gil mentioned, even if we understand the english meaning, it's sometimes impossible to translate it into foreign languages that have their own subtleties.

    - what are we trying to achieve ? If it's to have experts discussions between us, social is relevant and we can close the discussion. If we have to convince, explain and help businesses to change the way they do things and adopt new tools, it may be different. I'm not saying that social is irrelevant in this case, I'm only saying that we have to speak a language the people we're trying to help understand and accept. If I'm asked something about “social” I answer social, if it's about “collaboration”, I answer collaboration, if it's about “2.0”….

    For the people who need it, what matters is not the name but what it does (provided the name does not scare them first). The proof can be found in google requests : how many people reach our blogs by searching social anything or anything 2.0 ? How many use “traditional” words ?

    I think the right word is not the one we'll find all together through our discussions. It will be the one that will make each manager think “there's something here that will help me to improve things”. So it will be different for every person.

    That said, I don't think there is relevant or irrevant word. We only have to be aware that we have to use the right one not depending on what we want to say or what we know but depending on the issue our interlocutor has to solve, how and what is culturally relevant to him.

    Everything happens through conversations and discussions. It implies a common language can be found and I think the lingua franca (at this time) is the traditional business language.

  • kcronk

    Interesting. Firstly, we have to ensure we are not sounding like collaboration and networking are been introduced into business and organizations by either Web 2 or E2.0 – what ever the label. Networking and collaboration have always been a part, an important part, of business and organizations. Over history, they have gained more attention at some times, than other times. But this is not new. What we are seeing though, is new and perhaps paradigm shifting tools to facilitate networking and collaboration. I am not convinced anyone has a complete grasp on all these as yet.

    In regard to terminology, networking and collaboration are terms that have been around, largely accepted and understood in the business community. Why not stick with them. Social activities are also understood, but that is not the connotation that really is trying to be capitalized. It seems the business tools are emerging out of the social networking tools, but the concept in business is a different shade than in the personal world. The Web 2 etc terms are good in more academic discussions, but in a business context what we have are tools to improve the networking and collaboration of our business, perhaps in ways not known or engaged before. From there we need narrative more than 'a term' to explain it in a business or organizational context.

  • http://www.duperrin.com/english Bertrand Duperrin

    Sorry for coming after the battle but I'm on Holiday where the lack of reliable access to the net makes me become less…social.

    I rencently listed social as one of the 2.0 words that have to be used cautiously with “real” managers. http://bit.ly/5UBrR5

    I have to admit that, whatever my opinion on the word could be, using it is not always comfortable.

    In the one hand, I find the word relevant because I understand what it means and all the context around. It won't be the first word having different (and sometimes opposite) meanings.

    In the other hand I have to admit that not everybody understands it as we do. I thought it was essentially an European (and mostly French) issue but it appears that even elsewhere “social” has a not-work-related, not serious and sometimes counter-work connotation. Gil mentioned his speech at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Germany and it's the same in many countries. I won't list what “social” makes french managers and entrepreneurs think about (despite it would be quite funny) but one example will be enough ; the expression we usually use for being on strike is “social movement”.

    This makes me think of two things :

    - since we're having global discussions for global issues at global companies, we may be aware of having cross-cultural (buzz)words. As Gil mentioned, even if we understand the english meaning, it's sometimes impossible to translate it into foreign languages that have their own subtleties.

    - what are we trying to achieve ? If it's to have experts discussions between us, social is relevant and we can close the discussion. If we have to convince, explain and help businesses to change the way they do things and adopt new tools, it may be different. I'm not saying that social is irrelevant in this case, I'm only saying that we have to speak a language the people we're trying to help understand and accept. If I'm asked something about “social” I answer social, if it's about “collaboration”, I answer collaboration, if it's about “2.0”….

    For the people who need it, what matters is not the name but what it does (provided the name does not scare them first). The proof can be found in google requests : how many people reach our blogs by searching social anything or anything 2.0 ? How many use “traditional” words ?

    I think the right word is not the one we'll find all together through our discussions. It will be the one that will make each manager think “there's something here that will help me to improve things”. So it will be different for every person.

    That said, I don't think there is relevant or irrevant word. We only have to be aware that we have to use the right one not depending on what we want to say or what we know but depending on the issue our interlocutor has to solve, how and what is culturally relevant to him.

    Everything happens through conversations and discussions. It implies a common language can be found and I think the lingua franca (at this time) is the traditional business language.

  • 55nfrustrated

    How well said, and pictured: sure: I'm a (middle) manager now, never had time to enjoy things like Woodstock, had to earn my degree and pay back my student loan, and now you expect me to PAY for social activities at work?

  • http://inmagicinc.blogspot.com/ Phil Green

    The ‘S’ word by any other name is still just as Sweet.

    This discussion has been simmering across the social-sphere (or whatever you want to call it) and has now percolated here. I believe *what* to call this ‘social-ness’ that is perplexing us is not as important as *how* companies are going to execute around it. We can talk all we want, debate, critique, revise, rename – it’s a healthy exercise – but in the end it’s not about what we call it, but how we use it that counts.

    More real world examples of how Enterprise 2.0/social/collaborative software is being used and to what benefit would help the “name” issue enormously. Remember, all sorts of good things have some really bad names. But as the “brand” develops around a name or concept, the debate switches from whether the name is good or bad and moves to whether the concept is working or not. So let’s promote real benefits by real companies solving real problems, and my bet is that the naming thing will take care of itself.

    You’ll notice, there are many companies with their heads down, going through the trial and error process of finding out how E2.0 is going to work for them. They’re less likely to be engaged in the debate of what it is – because they are in the process of defining it for themselves, and reaping its benefits.

    http://inmagicinc.blogspot.com/

  • kcronk

    Interesting. Firstly, we have to ensure we are not sounding like collaboration and networking are been introduced into business and organizations by either Web 2 or E2.0 – what ever the label. Networking and collaboration have always been a part, an important part, of business and organizations. Over history, they have gained more attention at some times, than other times. But this is not new. What we are seeing though, is new and perhaps paradigm shifting tools to facilitate networking and collaboration. I am not convinced anyone has a complete grasp on all these as yet.

    In regard to terminology, networking and collaboration are terms that have been around, largely accepted and understood in the business community. Why not stick with them. Social activities are also understood, but that is not the connotation that really is trying to be capitalized. It seems the business tools are emerging out of the social networking tools, but the concept in business is a different shade than in the personal world. The Web 2 etc terms are good in more academic discussions, but in a business context what we have are tools to improve the networking and collaboration of our business, perhaps in ways not known or engaged before. From there we need narrative more than 'a term' to explain it in a business or organizational context.

  • 55nfrustrated

    How well said, and pictured: sure: I'm a (middle) manager now, never had time to enjoy things like Woodstock, had to earn my degree and pay back my student loan, and now you expect me to PAY for social activities at work?

  • http://twitter.com/JWilfong Jeff Wilfong

    'Social,' 'Collaborative,' 'Innovation,' 'Engagement,' 'Adoption,' and many other buzz-words seem to be in the press these days. However, not much interest seems to actually be focused on process. How are businesses actually changing the way they organize themselves to fully access the power of 2.0 methodologies? The top-down business hierarchy still seems to be the norm, even in 2010!

    Adoption seems focused on numbers, not quality or people building new 'social' networks. Value seems to always be found in the numbers (ie ROI). In the coming decade, I foresee much more value in things less number-focused. We are all one human-body. An organization is an network, an organism which outstretches into customers, society and the world.

    With this being said, the aversion to the word 'social,' I believe comes from the typical mindset of most business sorts, the 'number cruncher' type. Businesses are to be concerned with growth (a number), profit or return on investment (a number), or some other number not mentioned [says the number cruncher.] The concern of the number-cruncher is typically not: how do we grow our knowledge in our organization? how do we promote learning or true innovation?

    Example: Distributive teams seems like a 'machine-like' term to me. Can we fit social somewhere in that term? Everyone knows that the team and the people in it are what allow projects to be successful or not.

    For me, I am not ashamed to use the word social, because it is what it is.

  • http://twitter.com/JWilfong Jeff Wilfong

    'Social,' 'Collaborative,' 'Innovation,' 'Engagement,' 'Adoption,' and many other buzz-words seem to be in the press these days. However, not much interest seems to actually be focused on process. How are businesses actually changing the way they organize themselves to fully access the power of 2.0 methodologies? The top-down business hierarchy still seems to be the norm, even in 2010!

    Adoption seems focused on numbers, not quality or people building new 'social' networks. Value seems to always be found in the numbers (ie ROI). In the coming decade, I foresee much more value in things less number-focused. We are all one human-body. An organization is an network, an organism which outstretches into customers, society and the world.

    With this being said, the aversion to the word 'social,' I believe comes from the typical mindset of most business sorts, the 'number cruncher' type. Businesses are to be concerned with growth (a number), profit or return on investment (a number), or some other number not mentioned [says the number cruncher.] The concern of the number-cruncher is typically not: how do we grow our knowledge in our organization? how do we promote learning or true innovation?

    Example: Distributive teams seems like a 'machine-like' term to me. Can we fit social somewhere in that term? Everyone knows that the team and the people in it are what allow projects to be successful or not.

    For me, I am not ashamed to use the word social, because it is what it is.

  • lovetips

    “The article points out that Chatter at present looks very much like Facebook-ish social software, but Benioff and his colleagues were taking pains to describe it and its value using narrow, corporate, managerial words. Does anyone want to make the case that these guys don’t know how to convince organizations to adopt new tools”
    I love the way that in many ways facebook is a step ahead, and in fact is starting to operate as an increasingly pure-business model. More traditional organisations need to wake up and smell the proverbial lest they be left picking up the electronic crumbs.

  • lovetips

    “The article points out that Chatter at present looks very much like Facebook-ish social software, but Benioff and his colleagues were taking pains to describe it and its value using narrow, corporate, managerial words. Does anyone want to make the case that these guys don’t know how to convince organizations to adopt new tools”
    I love the way that in many ways facebook is a step ahead, and in fact is starting to operate as an increasingly pure-business model. More traditional organisations need to wake up and smell the proverbial lest they be left picking up the electronic crumbs.

  • leeclemmer

    Jeff, great insights, and I agree mostly with you, but you have to realize that the “number crunchers” are the C-Level leaders of the company and the number they're so interested in is $$$. Companies are groups of people with a pretty distinct purpose: make money. Whatever else you want to say, if money isn't being made, the group dissolves. So when you start talking about “social” things, the (I think appropriate) response by an executive is: what monetary effect does it have? If we start making _less_ money because of social tools, then I wouldn't use them. I do think there's great monetary gain to be made for a business – it's just hard to quantify – and that therefore it might be prudent to use terms other than “social” if for nothing else but to sell this to executives.

  • leeclemmer

    On a sidenote: the word that really irks me is “evangelist” – it means “preacher of the Christian gospel.” Obviously we use it in a different context when describing the work that we do within companies, but the religious connotation is still there. Whatever your feelings on that subject may be, I think the fundamental different between a religious believer and a scientist is one of faith-based vs. evidence-based belief. So calling ourselves “evangelists”, in my mind, is a bit like advertising that we believe in the wares we advocate on faith alone, instead of advocating them based on rational, analytical facts and evidence. And this has in some case really been the case in this field, hasn't it? One of the primary challenges is convincing the “ROI-types” that social technology is inherently good; we ask them to take a leap of faith, as it were.

    All that aside, I do think we are coming to a point where the value of social technology is more easily demonstrable and the business value more clear. However, the term evangelist irks me nonetheless. I will not adopt a technology on faith alone, and we shouldn't give anyone the impression that we are asking them to do just that either.

  • leeclemmer

    Jeff, great insights, and I agree mostly with you, but you have to realize that the “number crunchers” are the C-Level leaders of the company and the number they're so interested in is $$$. Companies are groups of people with a pretty distinct purpose: make money. Whatever else you want to say, if money isn't being made, the group dissolves. So when you start talking about “social” things, the (I think appropriate) response by an executive is: what monetary effect does it have? If we start making _less_ money because of social tools, then I wouldn't use them. I do think there's great monetary gain to be made for a business – it's just hard to quantify – and that therefore it might be prudent to use terms other than “social” if for nothing else but to sell this to executives.

  • leeclemmer

    On a sidenote: the word that really irks me is “evangelist” – it means “preacher of the Christian gospel.” Obviously we use it in a different context when describing the work that we do within companies, but the religious connotation is still there. Whatever your feelings on that subject may be, I think the fundamental different between a religious believer and a scientist is one of faith-based vs. evidence-based belief. So calling ourselves “evangelists”, in my mind, is a bit like advertising that we believe in the wares we advocate on faith alone, instead of advocating them based on rational, analytical facts and evidence. And this has in some case really been the case in this field, hasn't it? One of the primary challenges is convincing the “ROI-types” that social technology is inherently good; we ask them to take a leap of faith, as it were.

    All that aside, I do think we are coming to a point where the value of social technology is more easily demonstrable and the business value more clear. However, the term evangelist irks me nonetheless. I will not adopt a technology on faith alone, and we shouldn't give anyone the impression that we are asking them to do just that either.

  • http://twitter.com/wtongen Ward (Wardo) Tongen

    This paradigm shift has been going on for quite a while. The authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto started talking about it over 10 years ago… “the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can't be faked.”

    Bertrand Duperrin said earlier in the comments that “Everything happens through conversations and discussions. It implies a common language can be found and I think the lingua franca (at this time) is the traditional business language.”

    I agree, we do have to speak to our business audiences in their own vernacular. To many business people it will be 'collaboration or Enterprise 2.0', but to many in THEIR OWN target market audience it will be 'social'. The words we use enable or disable us according to the situation. We need both positions to get our concepts across.

    Enterprise 2.0 or whatever you want to call it is INEVITABLE. We must help business managers and leaders grasp this by speaking in a recognizable human voice.

    In summary it's already been said:
    “Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It's going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.” -The Cluetrain Manifesto

  • http://twitter.com/friarminor friarminor

    Want to be taken seriously? Shun 'social' and use 'collaboration' instead. http://bit.ly/9SCnnb << We're not your typical humans, we mean business!

  • http://twitter.com/wtongen Ward (Wardo) Tongen

    This paradigm shift has been going on for quite a while. The authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto started talking about it over 10 years ago… “the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can't be faked.”

    Bertrand Duperrin said earlier in the comments that “Everything happens through conversations and discussions. It implies a common language can be found and I think the lingua franca (at this time) is the traditional business language.”

    I agree, we do have to speak to our business audiences in their own vernacular. To many business people it will be 'collaboration or Enterprise 2.0', but to many in THEIR OWN target market audience it will be 'social'. The words we use enable or disable us according to the situation. We need both positions to get our concepts across.

    Enterprise 2.0 or whatever you want to call it is INEVITABLE. We must help business managers and leaders grasp this by speaking in a recognizable human voice.

    In summary it's already been said:
    “Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It's going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.” -The Cluetrain Manifesto

  • http://twitter.com/friarminor friarminor

    Want to be taken seriously? Shun 'social' and use 'collaboration' instead. http://bit.ly/9SCnnb << We're not your typical humans, we mean business!

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    ith this being said, the aversion to the word ‘social,’ I believe comes from the typical mindset of most business sorts, the ‘number cruncher’ type. Businesses are to be concerned with growth (a number), profit or return on investment (a number), or some other number not mentioned

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  • Ameliaded

    You are right – pitching into the enterprise world using the word social
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