Niall Cook on Corporate Social Networking

Niall Cook has started his talk with a challenge to preconceptions about social networking in corporates. It’s not a case of buying something with Enterprise 2.0 on the box and thinking it will work. It won’t. 

Any innovation in history usually is based around a technology that has been around for a while, but it requires a perfect political. social, technological storm to make it work.
The credit crunch is what is making it work. The “R” of ROI doesn’t need to be much if the “I” is very small. You don’t need to spend millions to get something that works. Our existing internal systems don’t work. E-mail is overloaded. Intranets aren’t working either. They’re not collaboration tools, they’re publishing tools and nobody’s interested. The more social stuff is the only place that traffic will be holding up.
There’s a shift from CEO as God to CEO as guide. And employees don’t want command and control any more – they want managed engagement. The research says that if you’re employees aren’t engaged, they’re creative negative value for your company. 
The workplace and the business are changing. It’s more mobile, and more information-focused. The expectation of the workforce is greater than ever. They don’t go “I’m at work now, I’m quite happy working in this structured, clunky system and then go home and use Facebook.” They won’t put up with the old-fashioned stuff any more. There’s a shift in the psychological contract between employer and employee.
Digital natives are entering workforce – they don’t care what impact their technology choices have on the business. Technology is part of their culture and they won’t leave it at the door. 

Connecting – people want to connect with other people, as well as content and information. They do that using social software outside the organisation. Bring that inside the network.
Communicate – we all have a human need to communicate. Lots of lessons in how pople use the social web, and bring it inside the network.
Co-operation – The success stories of social networking are around this. No defined end goal – just an ability to share things organically. Very difficult for companies to get their heads around because they want the control.
Collaboration – Putting things in place to get the job done – wikis, etc.
Speed and Flexibility – the old model of IT deployment is dead. No longer good enough to take 6 months while the IT department works out if there’s a business need. If I need a wiki and the internal one isn’t good enough, they will go an use a web one. That’s a bigger threat than getting speedier.
Ease of Use – Why do we continue to put clunky, horrible, difficult to use software in front of our employees?
Demand – Do it based on demand. What do they want? What are they suing?
Individual value – Flickr isn’t successful because people want to contribute to a mass of photographs, but because they can share their photo. There must be good personal reasons for employees to use the tools.
Organisational culture – If you’re not a collaborative company, there’s no point in using those tools. 

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