Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Power to the People!

I eventually got a response from G. Oliver Young of Forrester in response to my question about the adoption of social networking solutions in the enterprise (see previous post – Oliver? Can you hear me now?).

According to Young, adoption of social media solutions and the change they are driving should not be viewed as a potential threat to business, but an opportunity for companies to harness these innovative technologies to grow.

Young suggests that, while the social media technology and tools flooding the market are innovative, the real change is a shift in the way businesses and their customers are interacting. This behavioral shift, according to Young, is making companies “…think more holistically about the role of customers in the value creation process, treating them more like partners and co-creators of value than simple consumers of value.”

This according to Young is where the true market opportunity is. So much so that he doesn’t believe we have seen such a rethinking of the relationship between businesses and consumers in the last half century – fundamentally changing the way businesses organize themselves.

While this may seem like business as usual to those of us who work in high-tech (I’ve seen first hand the way enterprise Wi-Fi, VoIP, RFID, Location Based Services (LBS), and video conferencing have had a positive impact on business productivity) there is a different angle to this market that makes it so game changing - just about anyone with a computer and Internet connection can participate.

Quoted on Socialutations - a blog dedicated to the emergence of new management methods - Lucas Wyrsch says:

“Today, billions of connected people around the world can cooperate to make just about anything that requires human creativity, a computer, and an Internet connection. Unlike before, where the costs of production were high, people can collaborate and share their creations at very little cost. This means that individuals needn’t rely on markets or capital-intensive firms to make or trade all of the goods and services they desire. A growing proportion to the things we value, newspapers included, can now be produced by us or in cooperation with the people we interact with socially, simply because we want to.”

Now that’s change.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oliver? Can you hear me now?

Following up on yesterday’s post, I sought to get an answer to my question about Josh Bernoff’s comment that the change being driven by social networking solutions “is the largest thing to happen to American business since the Internet came in." Based on the relatively low adoption rates being reported by Forrester, what was the basis of this statement?

In an attempt to find out (and to hopefully learn something new), I attended a webinar hosted by Awareness Networks and Forrester titled: The Value of Social Networking for the Enterprise. Eric Schurr, VP of Marketing at Awareness was MC of the festivities and Forrester was represented by G. Oliver Young, an analyst responsible for Web 2.0 and Social Computing technologies.

The presentation was interesting, although I had seen most of it in a similar web seminar presented by Forrester and a competitor to Awareness. After the presentation, I asked my question via the online Q&A capabilities of WebEx and…

…Oliver’s connection was lost and the webinar was ended.

I followed up with an email to Eric & Oliver. Eric responded with the comment below. A little “marketingy”, but hey, I’m a marketing guy so I’ll live with it.

“The comment about the impact of social media is a more of a prediction of the future than a statement about the current state. If one looks at the current impact that social media has had and extrapolates where it goes from here, it’s pretty clear it will become part of the basic fabric of how we interact and communicate. It’s already become the most popular way for people 25 years and younger to communicate, and it’s now finding its way into the business world. Think of the impact that email, mobile devices, and the Internet have had on our lives – at one point they were novelties and many people discounted their value, but visionaries saw a time when they would all be a commonplace thing. That’s what we see happening with social media – it’s here to stay, and one day it will not be something special, it will just be the way things are.”

Still no word from Oliver. Stunned silence? Loss of all social networking tools to communicate to the outside world? Oliver? Can you hear me now?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Enterprise Social Media Adoption – Fear Factor or Cool Tools?

I admit I haven’t had the chance to read Groundswell - Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, written by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li of Forrester Research, but it is on my list. I have, however, attended a few of Forrester’s social networking webinars, spent some time on the Groundswell website and read with interest an article in this past Sunday’s Boston Globe titled "Broadsided" that discusses the book.

From what I’ve read, the book details the rapid adoption of blogs, wikis, podcasts, and online video and how these web-based tools have changed the way that companies and their customers interact. The change is so dramatic according to Bernoff, a vice president and principal analyst for Forrester, that "this is the largest thing to happen to American business since the Internet came in." Wow – that’s BIG! Bigger than e-commerce? Bigger than data, voice and video services over IP?

I’m not sure if Bernoff’s statement is based on current market sizing statistics or if it is a prediction of the larger business opportunity, but it is a very intriguing point of view for those of us who follow the social media market. So what’s fueling this market opportunity?

According to Bouzha Cookman, partner at Catlin & Cookman Group, a Concord, MA consulting firm, "[social networking technology] is playing out with companies that are fiercely protective of their brands" and not so much with their own cliental of smaller businesses with under $100 million in annual sales. Cookman also mentions that technology vendors developing solutions designed to help businesses promote their messages on blogs and social networks are capitalizing on “the anxiety they [blogs and social networks] cause in executive suites”.

Interesting take. Is the market really being driven by fear? Are vendors in the space capitalizing on it to drive adoption? I don’t know, but I’d prefer to think that the market is being driven by social media technology vendors who think their solutions are cool and really smart product marketing professionals looking for ways to leverage emerging technologies to promote their brands.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Map of the World 2.0

My apologies in advance to your family & friends for the time you’ll spend trying to find your favorite company/project or researching the industry. This amazing grouping of 1001 clickable Web 2.0 logos created with AndreaMosaic, has kept me busy clicking around more social media sites for longer than I care to admit.

The full interactive version is available here. Brought to you by AppAppeal.