Social networks are the quintessence of enterprise web 2.0

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The issue has been emerging for years but it’s now a hard trend : companies don’t consider internal use of web 2.0 as a prospective subject and started to work on its implementation. The network logic and the question of knowing how to implement it is now on CEO”s agendas. All the same, people in charge often can’t make head nor tail of it.
In the first years, the equation was as simple as web 2.0 = Blogs + wikis. No sooner companies understand what they could do with these tools that they were told about social bookmarking. Then RSS. Then microblogging. And now social networks.

So many new things that common people in common businesses may get lost, don’t you think ?

In fact the point is not to make a choice between all these tools but to make a rational use of many of them, each having its purpose, in an unified context. Continously switching from one to another is out of question : employees must have everything at their disposal at the same time and in one interface, without having to care about how they communicare together. Another point is that IT depts can’t afford building bridges between a multitude of tools that evolve independantly, depending on the will of each vendor. I don’t even mention the real risk of overlap as solutions become more mature and expand their scope.

In this logic, the emergence of social networks as the main issue doesn’t have to be understood as “one more tool” but, on the contrary, as the integration of what’s above in a consistant approach.

Above mentioned tools makes it possible to share, make information availabe, send a message or a social signal, not to people designed by their name but to a defined population (which can be a “group”, a business unit, a department…). Each potential receiver makes the effort of searching for a specific information or sets alerts to know when a content matching some criterias is published…(author, topic, destination group….). Of course he must do that tool by tool.

We can reasonably think that such practices that are acceptable in experimentation timess, when both human and functionnal scope are limited, may bring a lot of confusion and favor information overload while they were supposed to improve the signal to noise ratio. But to do so, some integration is needed in order to rationalize the flows they send, and users have to learn how to master the so-called flows rather of staying in a receiver / passive victim logic.

Let’s go beyond the functionnal logic proper to each tool and focus on the overall goals they’re supposed to achive. It’s about connecting :

• Information to information

• People to people

• Informations through people

• People through information

It implies that :

• publication / sharing tools are connected among them.

• a social netwok platform exists in order to connect people.

• this plateform can use the information published everywhere and the use that’s made of it in order to make it possible to identify peoplenot because we know them but because we share topics of interests, concerns etc…

It’s obvious, provided we admit that companies have constraints and goals that make them different from the general public web and get them to have a specific approach of networks, more analytic than declarative, that social networks are not one more tool but the final layer that help businesses to take the most of a protean set of tools.

Social network for enterprises is not a Facebook-like that connect people. It’s a tool that gather in a one and only place all the logics of web 2.0 (blogs,wikis,bookmarking,tagging etc…) and take benefit of this information to re-create all the facets of the link between information and people as explained above.