With Human-Network Cisco steps into societal innovation


When we talk about enterprise 2.0 it’s often about organization or marketing. But it can also be about activities that are not directly business related but ma be important considering the societal role enterpises now have to play in a protean ecosystem.

That’s the purpose in which Cisco launched Human-Network in France. I know there’s an US equivalent but I don’t know if both are simultaneous or if the US one is much older;

It aims at gathering people aroung a commun project : sharing a good idea, a suggestion on how making our society more united, educated, tolerant, socially aware, respectful of environment, enterprising…

On www.human-network.fr, internauts may submit projects to share them with the largest audience, look for support, partners, and, of course, discuss with all the community members about employement, environment, economy, eduction, health care, community life…

It’s too early to give a definitive opinion but here’s what it inspires to me :

This platform is intesting, at least potentially, for many reasons.

• It’s definitely about what I use to call distributed inovation. Even if Cisco’s promise is to allow best practices sharing and connections between those who have ideas and those who can fund them, let’s bet they won’t be inactive if anything that make sense with their business is suggested.

• We are close to the “ideagoras” concept, with one novelty : the platform is run by a company which it’s not the business (contrary to Innocentive which it’s the business or Starbucks who use a platform to improve its own product), except if, as I wrote, they also use it as a sourcing tool, which would be fair enough.

• It’s about extended ecosystem: it’s not about business but about societal issues so Cisco doesn’t target its traditional stakeholders but every interested people. Web 2.0 as the best way to play it’s societal role as a facilitator on a common interest issue ? Potentially useful and without any comitment : benefits may be huge in terms of corporate image and harnessed ideas, as for users who can find ideas or find partners to carry them out. And if it works, a real benefit for the whole society. What about risk ? Nil, and all that with cost I guess minimal. In the worst case nothing will emerge but no one would blame Cisco for having tried.

• It’s also the proof we don’t know communities : they didn’t invite identified experts but let the platform opened to any interested people. That’s the big difference between reproducing an organizational chart and involving people who want to make things happen.

• Do you remember my former post about “the partnership or project economy” ? We’re right into this situation ; Cisco provides a platform which is used by external ressources for their own benefits that will in one or another way be shared with Cisco. The expertise needed to moderate such a community ? Externalized too as they asked the famous french blogger, specialist in social an political issues Nicolas Vanbremeersch aka Versac to do the job. Enterprise as a value chain coordinator without any hierarchical link : it sounds like wirearchy, doesn’t it ?

Now let’s wait for results to happen.

Reste à juger sur pièce avec le recul nécessaire, de tels projets n’étant qu’un investissement en pure perte si rien n’est fait pour transformer les idées captées en projets réels