Social computing is key in economic watch

Everybody knows strategic watch is a major stake for the organization. And those who didn’t understant may not survive enough to learn from their mistake.

But watch is difficult : so many sources, how to sort, how to make information usable… enterprises who have a dedicated department know they’ll never have enough ressources to put on it. Acknowledging you’ll never be able to do enough, the idea slowly emerges that watch may be partly distributed within the enterprise.

Another fact is often neglected : watch isn’t only about finding informations outside the enterprise but also inside the organization.

Employees are unrecognized information collectors : they’re in contact with the outside, suppliers, clients, watch their surrounding…and the organization try go find elsewhere informations that are already inside but aren’t identified.

50% of the time dedicated to watch is spent to collect information even if what’s important is its analysis, whitout which information doesn’t have much value. Because the right information  isn’t the one that is stocked somewhere in the enterprise, it’s the one that’s useful and exploited. Information is an incoming feed that lowers uncertainty. Data is an incoming feed that doesn’t lower uncertainty.

By allowing each employee to be an information provider, the enterprise catches an amount of information that was already present inside it but was uncatchable so far. According to Nonaka and Tagushu, tacit knowledge represents 85% of the global knowledge of the enterprise.  Could any organization let all these informations unexploited ?

So, does social computing be an asset for economic watch ?

Of course, because il allow everyone to formalize his knowledge, transforming the implicit in explicit. But at this time we still talk about knowledge…not about information.

The fact experts can now be identified, that people can interact and collaborate to improve knowledge, that anyone can ask an expert or the whole community, helps transforming knowledge into information that’s to say something people need to do their own work, their own business.

Doing this, the function of collecting and analyzing is getting more and more distributed, watch specialists “piloting” a distributed watch system, in which every employee would only give a fraction of his time to achieve what is a strategic need. An, by the way the question of the quantity of ressources is solved.
A few words on the “they don’t have time” syndrome.

• If we’re talking about a strategic stake, the organization will have to find time for them.

• This knowledge already exists…and individuals already take “hidden time” to make their own memos they keep  for their own use.

• The amount of processings you get by mutualizing part of everyone’s time is much more important than the simple sum of all the minutes dedicated.

If collecting and analyzing strategic information for the organization’s needs isn’t a priority, I can admit this is wasted time….

If not, enterprise 2.0 organized around social networking tools seems to be an efficient form of organization to face the competition in the knowledge economy.

PS : I’m talking about distributed watch…the concept of distribution is key in resolving complex and global problematics…and social computing perfectly fits this kind of needs.

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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