While many people are questioning the actual impact of Social Business and Enterprise 2.0 projects, while it seems we’ve reached a crossroads, the Social Business Forum I attended in Milan last month was the occasion to see a change in discourses. What is not surprising because that’s things I’ve been used to hearing in the backstage for a couple of years, discourses converging towards the need for a takeover and approaches more focused on business and less on a “care Bears” philosophy.
What has changed, as some speakers confirmed, is that the audience seems to be at last ready to hear some truth that used to be bothering until a very recent time. A situation that may be due to the increasing number of surveys and reports that show how things are actually and, without questioning the idea, show that it was not applied in a relevant fashion.
What follows is a quick overlook of what seemed key to me…
Enterprise, employee and management of today and of the past
I’ll start with Jacob Morgan‘s presentation on the future of work (the occasion to remind you of Jacob’s excellent book on the collaborative organization). Nothing new at first sight but that’s a good introduction to what will follow. As I endlessly repeat, making Goldratt’s words mine :
We should not expect an application to work in environments for which its assumptions are not valid
we need to acknowledge that the current environment we can find in enterprises makes invalid any initiative aiming at adapting work and structures to the context and market that are ours today.
Social Networks are the new production line
Social Business and the art of closing loops
Business talks, IT watches
This leads us to the panel gathering some of the major industry vendors. IBM, SAP, Tibbr, Cisco, Telligent and Microsoft. Not an easy kind of panel. As a matter of fact, many similar panel I saw in the past suffered from the techno-centrism of speakers and their propensity to sell their technology, making the business audience lose track and patience. For the first time, business prevailed with discussions on how to make social business contribute to business, manage enterprise transformation and not on the advantage of such or such software. Very lucid and responsible talks with only one exception, with a speaker saying that the need for change was not that important since people were used to Facebook and twitter in their personal lives (yes…still in 2013…).
Social Business is business, not a nebulous layer superimposed over it
The imperative reconciliation of social and business
Last but not least, the Esteban Kolsky and Ray Wang duet. An original staging with one playing the role of a CMO and the other a CTO, aiming at make the audience aware of the dialogue of the deaf that often happens between both but, most of all, of the legitimate constraints each one had. The conclusion was the need to move forward together because if marketing wins then the business will collapse because of lack of reliable systems and if IT wins business will collapse because of unadaptation. A new approach and and productive dialogue that may be embodied by a new role, the Chief Digital Officer both wished for. Once again, the need for a reconciliation between social and business to the profit of the enterprise and the vanity of what often looks like the war of worlds.
As for my own presentation on business transformation and the need to adapt organizations instead of relying on adoption programs only, I already shared it a couple of weeks ago.
One more thing : chance or not, the day after the Social Business Forum, I came across this post wondering if Social Business was only talks and no trousers. It was high time for new approaches…