Short Note about the End of Social & Bringing Back the Work Support into Future of Work!

Isabel de Clercq – practical futurist, keynote speaker, author of the book “Social Technologies in Business. Connect – Share – Lead.” – triggered a very nice discussion on her LinkedIn profile yesterday – with the following citation and question: (Source)

“Social collaboration might be needed in organisations with a lot of engineers dispersed geographically. But we don’t need it. We are a different company. In a different domain. In a country where hierarchy always has done the trick. And by the way: we are not threatened. We keep on growing each year. So why would we change the way we do things Isabel? And by the way: you say social collaboration plays a crucial role in the digital workplace. How to prove that with numbers?” – I got these two questions three times last week. I think they are very good ones. But what would be a strong answer?

Several good themes and answers arose from this question in the comments to this note.

  • Engagement dilemma: Sabine Kluge mentioned that the argument of dis-engagement should convince also traditional process manager that the processes are not running really smoothly. Too many disengaged co-worker are impeding the process efficiency with financial implications and costs at the end of the day.
  • Productivity argument: Dion Hinchcliffe brought up the argument for increasing the productivity with a supportive digital workplace environment – with an integration of social and process applications. In a recent blog post Dion outlines the idea towards his call for an “end-to-end employee experience” with a “coherent purpose and design” to the holistic (digital and physical) experience in the work-life. In Dion’s opinion the “end-to-end employee experience” will support “eccentric activity” and digital maturity behavior.
  • Supporting digital change: The support of the digital change and enhancements for the “digital maturity behavior” was also added by Gert Niijs from the KBC Group. He remarked that “digital mindset” is about “experimenting” and not about traditional ROI thinking.
  • Counter-argument on ROI for traditional collaboration channels: Peter Copman brought up the “counter-argument” on the ROI comparison of “social” with the email or even the phone as traditional channels and means for collaboration.
  • Problem-solving potential of social networks: Last but not least, Katharina Simon commented with the problem-solving potential of social networks – by e.g. the power of the crowd intelligence as well as serendipity of becoming or finding an answer towards a problem by the documentated information of others.

From different research sources Dion Hinchcliffe added also a graph on the different business benefits that sum up very much the different dimensions that Enterprise Social Networks add value to:

In my opinion (as also mentioned on the discussion thread) the problem is the difficult perception of the word “social” in this context. From the context of the cited conversion I would conclude that the term “social” is associated with a “networking and chatting without business value”. This is also the reason why we re-branded the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT as the Enterprise Digital SUMMIT (and now even as the Enterprise Digitial Workplace SUMMIT). It’s all about supporting the collaborative work in the first place, adding social connections as second layer of organisational structure (also as Koffler recommends with his dual organizational model). In this sense “social” is an integrated part of the collaborative workplace environment (short named as the Digital Workplace).

In this sense the Digital Workplace provides a digital integrated set of tools that support the “getting things done” where “social technology” is a part of the technology stack that Dion Hinchcliffe recently defined as the archtecture for an overall employee experience.

We are very much looking forward to our Enterprise Digital Workplace SUMMIT in three weeks time in London to discuss this in depth alongside a nice set of case studies and the introductional talks of Dion Hinchcliffe and Jane McConnell.