From the 5 eras of social web to transforming organizations

I had the chance to meet up with Jeremiah Owyang during his last coming in Paris. He presented us his report on the the future of social web. An interesting discussion followed, then we came to have a drink and carried on.

One thing I used to sense and which was confirmed is the specificity of european and especially french people according about privacy issues. Jeremiah launched the discussion on his blog, feel free to participate. Generally speaking, and I had the opportunity to discuss it many times whith German Friends, it’s obvious that social media adoption is a lot about cultural issues. Local culture on the web, both corporate and local culture within companies even if, considering enterprises, the fact people have to achieve things together, things they are assessed on, may help to unlock the cultural barrier. Language matters too. It’s an issue I’ll tackle in a later post, I just need to throw myself into Geert Hofstede‘s work again for what’s about internal issues. Common sense being enough to explain external ones.

During the presentation, Thierry De Baillon was quicker than me and asked : “the” question : how can these “5 eras” apply to organizations. Jeremiah answered that the model was only about the outside. We got deeper into this point later in the evening.

Jeremiah’s words makes a lot of sense : his work is about of internauts, consumers will behave and businesses have to understand that in order to adapt and not to lose their market. Let me add another point : in order to follow their customers and adopt appropriate strategies toward the outside, businesses will also have to change internally, for many reasons :

• efficiency : it’s impossible to have the needed culture, the vision and implement projects that will be successfull externally if they contradict what the company is, the way the work is done. There will be a moment when the elastic will break, when employees won’t be able to meet customers’ expectations anymore.

• credibility : it’s harder and harder to keep things secret, to make enterprises walled gardens. It’s impossible to be engaged in social dynamics with the market and, at the same time, to have internal practices that isolate people, refuse to accept everyone’s specificities. The only fact the market will learn, understand, how the company operates, to what extent organization and management are not aligned with the marketing promise, will ruin all the undertaken efforts. Would you hire a torturer as a babysitter ? QED. I’ll also add that the impact on employees would be very negative. They surely won’t accept to be less considered than clients, or to be accomplices of a masquerade. Bad for engagement and motivation.

• socilogy : future employees are also players of this under construction social web when the walk through the office’s door. No suprise that they will try to bring their usages inside the company.

In short, businesses will have to adapt to the reality of social web. Articulate with it. The challenge : avoiding to lose their clients and demotivate their employees. This makes me feeling like thinking more about this articulation, about what could be the “5 eras of the social enterprise”. What could they be, in your opinion ?

Thanks to Gil Yehuda for providing me with these few tips to help me getting started.

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