There's a lot being said about the new social technologies - Blogs, Wikis, RSS, etc. But I find people talking about the replacement of tools and portals instead of the augmentation of existing systems. This is a short-sighted view, in my opinion. But it seems to happen whenver the next "new" thing comes along.
To throw the baby out with the bathwater is hasty and not well thought out. It seems to me that implementing social technology as a separate tool, away from portals and existing tools, just creates yet another silo that will need integration in the future.
I agree that the interactions available with social technology need widespread adoption across enterprises to create actionable knowledgebases by capturing experiences and insights from your employees, but I'm not sure why I'm not seeing more about combining them with the user interfaces you already have. Combining social technology with portal tools creates effective, streamlined work environments that present actionable knowledge in context.
Andrew McAfee's article in the Sloan Management Review states, "These tools may well reduce management’s ability to exert unilateral control and to express some level of negativity. Whether a company’s leaders really want this to happen and will be able to resist the temptation to silence dissent is an open question. Leaders will have to play a delicate role if they want Enterprise 2.0 technologies to succeed."
I hear this a lot from clients. They are worried about letting their employees post to the sales portal or Intranet because they could be snarky or negative. If you really believe this, what do you think is in those emails that are flying around? If you're worried about your sales team and they're the ones putting the public face on your company, I'm wondering why they work for you?
Posting to social technology includes your name. When people's names are attached they pay more attention to what they say. But the other benefit I think companies may be short-sighted about is using the information to grow, fix things and build good mojo for their culture. Including staff in the rollout and enlisting some evangelists can help. Showing participants you're listening by taking action on inputs and participating with them can be done to great effect. But Andrew is right about watching the way you do it.
Wouldn't you rather hear about a problem from an employee instead of a customer? There will always be differing opinions about how things should be done. I do agree with Andrew, that the challenge will be in how management handles dissent, but it can be done and even convert dissenters into evangelists by addressing the issues instead of silencing them or, even worse, ignoring the issues they highlight.
Bill Ives has some thoughts about this article as well. His comment about workspaces gives me hope that others are thinking along the lines of extension and integration rather than separation of technologies.
Are you using social technology in your company? I'd love to know how it's going...