Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Let's Stop Talking about "Social Business"

By Dennis D. McDonald

Let’s stop talking about “social business” as if it were some sort of change in how organizations behave. By promoting the concept we might be creating as much confusion as we did when we popularized the vague and ill-defined phrase “Web 2.0.” 

Doing and managing business has always been “social.” Business has always involved people working individually or in groups. Creating a synthetic concept called “social business” to promote technology-enabled processes, collaboration, and information sharing among customers, employees, and business partners might be a valuable short term marketing initiative. But sometimes it smells like it’s just being used to promote software sales and consulting. (I should know!)

If we’re really interested in improving how businesses operate we can’t just focus on the technology. We have to integrate technology improvements with changes in governance, communication, business process, training, finance, and whatever it takes to improve how people do business. Making businesses “more social” misses the point, as does “socially enabling business processes.”

Yes, sometimes it does make a lot of sense to incorporate more technology support for collaboration and information sharing in some business processes. Helping people do that is one way I make a living.

But sometimes it won’t or will be very, very difficult to assess. Improving business by making business processes more visible, accessible, and/or participatory will depend on factors like how open and transparent a process really needs to be, on how much input we really expect and need from the involved “community,” and on how integrated, structured, and goal oriented we really need corporate technology applications to be.

Being “social” is just one of many factors to consider in changing the organization.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis D. McDonald


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