I really liked Jeremiah Owyang’s work on the future of the social web a lot, just as the discussion we had when he visited Paris. I wondered if such a model can apply to enterprises, the kind of thing that is intellectually challenging whitout being sure if would be of any use.
I quickly came to the conclusion that the model could not apply.
As a matter of fact, modeling the social web is modeling the web itself. In fact, the social web is the very nature of the web. At its very beginning, the web’s vocation was to become what’s becoming now. Anlyzing the social web is like making a two levels analysis : technology and behaviors. This reminds me of what Jeremiah told be : his report was about people’s behaviors. Busineses have to choice to jump on the wagon or to stay out of the way.
On the other hand, the social enterprise is not the very nature of the enterprise. No need for long explainations : what happened, is happening and will happen on the web is driven by the natural attirance internauts have for some behaviors. These behaviors, even if organizational performance makes them necessary, even when businesses want to promote them are not natural in the workplace.
In short, we can say that if nothing is done the web will become social. On the contrary, if we want businesses to become social, many efforts are needed. If we consider that employees and internauts are the same people, the difference comes once again from external variable which are neither technology nor people but what drives them.
Of course we can analyse the social part of the enterprise. It would be a little like analyzing its connections with the web as I did here. But it’s still incomplete because social web is a natural trend while social corporate web is a managed trend. One is unavoidable, the other has to be implemented.
Analysing the evolution of the social enterprise is, in fact, of little interest since it’s only a layer of the existing enterprise. That’s what I explained here and what Andrew McAfee said with other words a few time ago : what matters in not to describe the phenomenon but to explain what it will replace and how it will articulate with what will remain from the existing. What will make the transition successfull would be usefull too. So it’s a model with too many entries to be understandable, most of all because its audience is not supposed to be social media experts but people who wan to understand how things will word. I also advise you to read this post from Tom Davenport who does not focus on 1.0 nor 2.0 but 1.5. According to me “1.5” means “articulation”.
So an indusputable axis has to be be found in order to build the rest around it. I still thing that production can be a relevant one. Putting it in perspective with the service oriented organization and simplifying the result may bring something interesting.
So the next step will have two sides : reconciliation (find common denominators, cultural links) and articulation (how to switch between two working models depending on the situation).
To be continued…