Socializing the enterprise. Are you?

[Post written for the CIPR Conversation Friday Roundup]

I adopt the US spelling of socialize here because I'm doing the roundup this week from San Francisco where I'm attending the Dreamforce conference, a conference dedicated to this very theme.

Dreamforce is the annual Salesforce.com conference and with 45,000 registered delegates this year it is now, or so CEO Marc Benioff assures us, the largest corporate tech event of its kind. There is a palpable enthusiasm for the theme, regularly articulated as "awesome" by the American delegates.

[Disclosure: Salesforce.com is paying me to be here.]

Salesforce.com advocates a three-step approach to socializing the enterprise, in no particular order:

1. Develop a social customer profile

2. Develop an employee social network (collaborate, service and engage, connect and sell, automate and extend)

3. Develop a customer social network (social marketing, products and partners, listen and analyze).

The company's approach and capabilities in these regards are second to none in enterprise computing in my opinion, and it's great to see that the act of 'socializing' extends to employees too, not just consumers. However, always wanting more, it will be interesting to keep tabs on the speed with which Salesforce.com turns its attention to 'socializing' other stakeholder groups such as suppliers, the channel and other partners.

From a technical perspective, there is a lot of talk about architecting around social objects. Hugh Macleod defines social objects as the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to someone else (see social objects for beginners). And Salesforce.com's Chief Scientist, JP Rangaswami, has been building some interesting principles for social objects:

  • An object becomes social only when it is shared; it is the sharing that makes the object social, not the object per se.
  • A social object creates value not for itself but for the community in which it is shared.
  • The process by which value is created is by the community interacting with the object, leaving comments, classifications, tags, notes, notations, corrections, observations, links, questions and even answers.
  • If a social object falls in a forest and there’s no one to record and comment on its passage, it doesn’t make a sound.
  • Social objects get cocooned in metadata, the who-what-when-how-much that describes frequency of access, the population doing the accessing, number of edits, when and how carried out and by whom, relative popularity, links, tags and so on.
  • By inspecting the metadata we learn about ourselves and about the organisation(s).

How enterprise computing has had to move on since the 20th Century! And that's a nice segue to my small contribution to proceedings here – organisations cannot 'socialize the enterprise' simply by procuring best practice enterprise computing. They too need to move on in other ways.

Typical organisational structures, cultures, policies and processes were honed in the 20th Century and haven't yet been adapted to the new realities of social media, other major information technology advances and modern approaches to business performance management. Making that transition is incredibly hard work, but as Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, told delegates here this week, there will be those who make the transition over the next three to five years, and the rest simply won't survive.

Best regards, Philip and The Conversation team.

___

Please note, this Conversation Roundup is written in my own capacity. I am not a spokesperson for the CIPR.

 
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Get this podcast:

Download the MP4 (video) file (106Mb, 37:51)
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Dreamforce 2011 presentation – More...

What do you think?...