How ready are we for social computing?

This week I was presenting and giving a demo of some Exact Research prototypes. During the presentation I got an interesting question: Where do you find that this is the direction the industry is going?

Image credit: Shelly 

Before I dive into the details I will first set the context of the question. Exact Software provides solutions to small and medium-sized businesses, and subsidiaries of multinationals. This is business software covering a wide range of solution areas. The solutions historically focussed on data entry and less on getting information out. This is why there are today many specific business intelligence solutions. Today this is all of course a lot better, but the heritage is still there.

I presented a solution that added social components and emotional value into the business solution. It was  using existing information in a social context to create additional value. This based on the concept that a business transaction is essentially based social interaction.

Back to the question. The answer was simple:
1. Competitive analysis shows that it a common trend, in order to improve collaboration and efficiency we need to add social components.
2. Studies on Generation Y behavior show different expectations related to communications. See also: Unified Communications, bridging generations
3. Participate, Feel, Share and Enjoy social computing. This sounds strange, but the true value of social computing must be experienced.

But much more important, what did I learn from this? It became immediately clear that only a very small group of people is comfortable with social computing. In many businesses, including many of our customers, there are probably many novice and sceptic people towards social computing. Education and guidance of these people is actually more important that implementations.

What do you think?

6 comments

Business behavior like any behavior is social behavior. Generation Y will understand the concept of doing business using social computing. For them social computing is part of social behavior.
The question perhaps is: is Generation X able or willing to understand this as well? They have a different social behavior. It is very difficult to change social behavior.
Perhaps if social computing offers a lot of benefits for doing business they might be convinced to embrace the concept.
Education and guidance will part of this process. Also use the strenght of a social community. Once you have convinced the leaders many will follow.

marga

Online communities are becoming an accepted part of the lives of Internet users, although participation in these communities is dependent on the types of people that form them. Some of the online community’s members do not participate, people referred to as lurkers, whereas others who have been in the community for a long time, referred to as elders, participate regularly and support others. Understanding what drives these individuals and how they chose whether or not to participate will lead to online communities that thrive. A paper by Jonathan Bishop: Increasing participation in online communities: A framework for human–computer interaction proposes a conceptual framework to describe what drives such individuals to carry out actions such as posting messages and adding content (level 1), the cognitions they use to determine whether or not to take such actions (level 2) and the means by which they go about carrying out the action in the environment (level 3). Finally, the framework is applied to the problem of encouraging members to participate by discussing the methods by which people can be persuaded to participate by changing the way they interpret their desires and their environment.

It's psychology!

I'm experiencing awareness by business decision demographic, examples

Stanford Graduate School of Business evening event, Upside of the Downside. Panel speaker asked the audience 300 people (30-50 ages), if they watched the inauguration day event on some form of social media versus TV/Radio. About half showed raised their hands. Asked 4 years ago, no one watched using social media.

Sales and GMs in my office and other offices; are asking about LinkedIn and blogging. I find they have accounts, but have concerns about using the sites to help in business. In 4 years, I think about 50 per cent will be active users.

Just my experience with people now.

The sceptics should get convinced by successes, so repeatedly share small successes. I also want to share a very nice post about how to convince Marketing&Sales: http://www.alistercameron.com/2007/03/06/how-darren-rowse-can-convince-internet-marketers-to-blog/

Thx for the reactions.. They are all very positive... it will happen and probably sooner than later. I'm happy to hear this....

I don't want to be a sceptic, but what about the corner shop, Joe the Plumber.. how will their businesses benefit from social computing... Aren't they just too busy the whole day to even bother about it?

-Aad

It will take a long time, but the train is running and will never stop. It is the same with adoption of innovative products.
For instance: Mobile phones take 15 years till everybody had a mobile phone.
Shopping via internet. Number of people who are buying via the internet is growing but still not done by everybody.
People should encounter situations in which they see the benefit of it. Most of the people in the world are very conservative. So it will take a long time. We can only do our best to make useful implementations in which these conservative people will see the benefit. We need to be creative. It is a challenge.

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